I woke up at 4:00 am and was on the road by 4:15. As I pulled out of my neighborhood on the motorbike, everything was eerily quiet. The mountain air was pretty cold, especially for Thailand.
I thought to myself, “Even the devil isn’t awake right now”!
I laughed at that thought and then gunned it down the dark street heading toward my friend’s house. The team was there and we started to pray by 4:30. By 5:00 we were in the city center and split our 8 member team into teams of two. We would stay close to each other-within eye site at the city gate and talk to whoever would listen.
We would hand out Gospel literature to anyone who would take it.
I entered through the gate and the first person I saw was a young girl sitting alone, sobbing. I walked straight over to her, sat down, and said to her in Thai, “What’s wrong”? She looked at me and said back in Thai, “Never mind.” I began to open up a conversation as my team mate sat next to me.
The next thirty plus minutes were a God encounter.
I found out that this girl had moved from Udon Thani, a province next to the one where I used to live, Khon Kaen. She was clearly not enjoying the life that she had chosen in the big city of Chiang Mai.
I told her that God loved her, had a plan for her life, and that what she was doing now was not a part of it. I spoke to her about what it meant to be a good person and we both agreed that no one really was totally good. She went on to tell me how she wants to do what is right but something is always pulling her back into what she knows is wrong. I told her that she needed a helper. Then I preached the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit as our Helper.
I talked about many things with her concerning God’s plan.
When I came to a certain place in the conversation, I stopped and told her plainly, “The love of money is the root of everything bad in your life.” She looked stunned. “But we need money”, she replied. “Yes, we do.” I ageed, “but the LOVE of money is the problem.” She seemed to accept it and began to ask how she could change, supposing she believed the things I was saying.
I told her that she needed to “have a change of heart” and that only God could do it in her. She must invite Him into her life, choose to believe His plan, and turn away from the things that are pulling her away from him and toward darkness.
Then I got a word of knowledge for her.
It was something like “You always ask ‘how can I really know if God is real? I can’t see him. I think I hear sometimes, but I am uncertain.’ “Well,” I said, “God sent us here today to you first. He knew you were here and He knew you were upset tonight. He sent us as His representatives to you. We are his voice to you with a human face.
We don’t want anything from you.
We are simply here to tell you that God is real, he loves you, and He wants to give you hope.” As we talked, tears would occasionally stream down the corners of her eyes. She told us that one of her school teachers shared the story of Jesus with her when she was a young girl. “One sows, one waters…”
During this time, it was as if I stepped out of myself for a moment. God really was using us, at that time and that moment to impact this girl’s life. I know that may shock some people. “You are a missionary aren’t you”?, they may say. But you know, sometimes when miracles happen we are as surprised as anyone else. It is all God anyway…Of Him, Through Him, and To Him.
I told her that I wanted to introduce her to a Thai Christian woman who could be a friend to her, be there for her, and answer questions that come up in her life. I asked her her phone number and she willingly gave it knowing what it was for. I told her that I would pray that God’s presence would come upon her life and that she would continue to know Him more and more.
We bowed our heads and I prayed for God to pour His Holy love over her life.
I asked for all forces of darkness to be bound. And as I prayed more and more, I felt like I was in another place for a moment. In the stillness of the early morning, God was at work. It was a privilege to be a part of it. We parted ways we continued on our journey.
The next two girls we met were Oil and Ooun. Ooun’s name means “fat” and she called herself that because that is what everyone else called her. She pretended to like it, but I told her that I would not call her “fat”, but I would call her “Lek” or “small.” “Lek” told me that her husband used to beat her repeatedly and he left her and her two kids back in the city of Khorat (Isaan).
Since then, she had been working for seven years as a prostitute. She had two boys but had not seen them for all those years. I asked when she may see them again and she coldly replied, “When they are grown, they will come looking for me.”
I told her that what she was doing was sad.
She asked, “Why is it sad?” I replied back, “It just is.” “What if you get a disease? Aren’t you afraid” “No”, she replied again coldly. Then the Holy Spirit prompted me to ask her if she had any friends that had HIV-Aids. She said yes. I then asked her “How did they get it”? Looking down, she replied “Doing this.”
Next to her was her friend, Oil, who Ooan says she watches out for.
I asked her age and Ooan piped up for her, “Seventeen”. She could have been younger. Oil then told me that her mother was sick and she was helping to take care of her. She was depressed because she had no customers that night. Thank God. I looked squarely at her and said, “You need to go back to school.” She hung her head as if to say, I know. So crazy, but there are more and more like her getting into this.
We talked about many interesting things that morning, and we were able to share a little with the both of them. My friends came over to join us for a bit and we then parted ways. They wanted to see us again. We said that we hoped that we would meet again.
That whole scenario was harsh reality…bittersweet:
Sweet in the way, we had moments of just talking about funny things and laughing together. Bitter in that what these girls were facing was bringing them closer to death and destruction each day.
We continued walking the streets greeting the street sweepers, plastic collectors, tuk tuk drivers, and anyone we passed heading into work. I would give them a Thai Gospel message with a proper Thai greeting, and in typical Thai fashion, they would gladly receive it from my hand and smile broadly saying thank you. I even came upon a young monk collecting his morning food. As I met up with him, I greeted him with a high Thai wai (show of respect) and he opened his food basket to me for me to be able to give him a booklet.
In fact, the monks were everywhere at that time of the morning. And, as usual, devotees were there to greet them with fresh food and shows of respect with the hope of gaining merit or at least a little luck for the day.
I thought to myself, “If these guys are here, we should be here too.”
The team joined back up for a time of sharing what we had experienced then headed back to the house for a time of prayer and worship. It was a Holy Spirit filled time and I was so happy to be a part of it and sense the heart of God for the people of Thailand.
This is why I came to Thailand...to meet people where they are…to go to them with Faith, Hope, and Love through Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
I went on in to work at the mission base office and began finishing up on gathering and organizing a large vision, writing new copy, and then putting it all into a new web site project. I have been working on this project for the last few weeks. It is a huge amount of writing for a huge vision.
Well, for me it was anyway. I don’t consider myself an expert in any part of this endeavor, but it is something God had me working on. I have been excited to learn about this work and its potential here in Thailand and then distill it down into writing for the web so that others may “read the vision and run” with it. Soon you will get to read it!
During this season I have been teaching English to university students five nights a week. I recently finished up my four week commitment but had the privledge of being with my students tonight for the beginning of the Alpha course which is designed to introduce seekers to the faith.
I was so proud to see all of my young guys there at the first meeting. They were hungry to learn about God and His plan for their life. One of them even brought his girlfriend. We had a great time together. They asked me if I would be there at the next meeting.
If I would be there, they would be there. So, I will be there!
I am learning that sometimes a large part of effective ministry is just making the time and space to show up and shine.
It is not that complicated. Yes, we need some of the language to start, we need venues to operate in, we need the support and encouragement of a team, and we need a base of stability to operate from.
In a place like Thailand, it can take some time and effort to build all of this up. And most of it is an ongoing fight to maintain.
But I am finding that most of all, we need to just make ourselves available.