This past September I was truly blessed to go back to Thailand for 3 weeks. I worked with a ministry called Christian Far East Ministry (CFEM) and a few missionary friends. A major focus of CFEM is on reaching out to the hill tribe peoples of Burma (also known as Myanmar), all whom have been heavily persecuted by the Burmese government for many years. Much of this trip was spent along the western Thai-Burmese border where its thick jungle and mountainous landscape dominate the life style of the local residents. September is also the rainy season!
As we traveled from remote bamboo village to even more remote refugee camps, we found many opportunities to help meet spiritual and physical needs as we preached, performed dramas, sang songs, made crafts with the kids, and distributed food and clothes to the many poor and orphans. Even as we encountered many stories of sadness and pain, there was hope, there was healing, and there was life! There was such clear showing of God’s heart for the widows, orphans, the neglected, and ‘the least of these’. He really is an amazing Father and cares so much for us! The result was a sincere gratitude, appreciation, and joyful fellowship because of what He has done.
As we made it back into the city, the Lord continued to open up doors to share the gospel. One example was with a room of Thai college students in Chiang Mai. I had been invited to meet a team member’s sister who lived in the dorm and then head to dinner right after. As it turns out, there was a change of plans and I soon found myself with about 6 students sharing my testimony, teaching on the basics of Christianity and holding an hour long Q&A (with much help from my translator!). To put to it mildly, it was a really sweet moment to see God plant seeds and touch people’s hearts.
And the doors kept opening as there was another opportunity to share the gospel with 2 women at a local shop. And again, there came another opportunity to share about Christ and the need for forgiveness of sins with a group of Thais at dinner.
As I was reflecting on the trip towards the end of my last week, in the midst of all that was happening, I received a very clear ‘Now is the time, the harvest is ripe’ impact on my heart. It was clear, and it was time! The Lord of the harvest calls forth laborers and I am excited to say that He has called me to Thailand for His purposes. Oh, but wait, there’s more!
What I haven’t mentioned yet was that at the beginning of this trip, my friend Astrid decided to play match-maker and introduced me to her friend Tiffany, who was also on the team and works for a mission’s organization in Thailand.
It didn’t take long before we both recognized the chemistry between us. By the end of the 3 weeks, Tiff and I had agreed to begin a relationship. This led to us calling each other on Skype almost daily for 4 months, which led to me returning to Thailand this past February for 2 weeks where we were able to further our relationship and continue my involvement with CFEM. Let’s just say that the February trip went exceedingly well. God has brought an amazing woman into my life. Tiffany and I are now engaged with the wedding set for this November in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Hi Jeff. What do you exactly say to explain Christianity to these refugees who are probably very foreign to the concept of monotheism and salvation that cannot be achieved by thru works?
Sorry for the slow reply. Lot’s still going with the packing and moving phase now upon me.
For most of the refugees and hilltribe groups, they are very open to spirits and the spiritual realm. So even if they are not monotheistic, it isn’t too difficult for them to adapt their understanding to have one God and many other spirits being angels and demons. Above all, sharing God’s love with them and showing them we care breaks down a lot of barriers in itself. Just like in the States, authentic relationship makes a huge difference.
I’m not familiar with any religion that is without works other than Christianity. Even Americans don’t grasp this idea of grace through faith, including many ‘Christians’. So it does take some time to help them realize what God’s love actually is and that it isn’t dependent on behavior.