My wife and I had the great blessing of spending Sunday at a local Laotian and Thai church here in Charlotte. We made this connection from a Thai Christian lady that I met through a friend. It was a God thing! See my post below on “Divine Appointments.”
During the service, we listened to a Laotian evangelist speak about the plight of the Khmu people of Laos. We looked at real pictures and heard real stories of government persecution of Christians in Laos. One man in particular stood out to me. He was an officer in the Lao army and came to Christ through the witness of some fellow Laotians. He eventually paid for that decision with his life. It was heartbreaking to see him in a hand made coffin knowing that his life was cut short because of his faith in Jesus.
We also saw pictures of believers sitting in the midst of churches that had been burned to the ground holding the cross which was the only thing that survived the fire. There were pictures of Laotian believers desperately needing surgeries of different kinds and the remarkable before and after photos of these same believers once they received those surgeries. They were able to get them because of the generous gifts of people back in the States.
The theme of the whole service was how we must “through many tribulations to enter the kingdom of God.” This is not something you hear very often in Western churches on Sunday morning. The weight of the potential cost of following Jesus in many places of the world hit me even harder as I considered our decision to leave America and follow Jesus to SE Asia.
Many of the church members were refugees who fled persecution in Laos. Most of them had not seen their family in decades. The local Laotian Pastor, who works a full time job as a fabricator, is dedicated to his people and spends his nights and weekends ministering to them. He has a son who has served in the Marines for 5 years with two tours in Iraq. His daughter is in college at NC state. All in all, I was very impressed with this tiny band of Asian believers living in our own back yard of Charlotte.
Their little church building is a renovated home. You could hear the kids in the room right next to the main sanctuary shouting out the books of the New Testament by memory. After the service, we stayed and ate with these precious brothers and sisters. We had our fill of sticky rice, Asian sausage, and Thai Som Tom.
I was glad to make this precious connection so near to home. Many think of missions work as strictly being overseas work, but when we think like that exclusively, we miss many opportunities to reach out cross culturally in our own backyards.
We have been invited to come back anytime and we plan on making regular visits as we are able. The church is currently raising money to expand their tiny sanctuary and need approx $20k more to do it. If you would like to help, let me know and I will work out a way to get the finances to them. More than anything, remember to pray for these brothers and sisters and their families who are left behind in SE Asia.