I feel it’s time to write an entry about our last week in Thailand. We are now in Abbotsford on debrief, and this afternoon our team shared with the group about the lives of friends we saw God transform around us. And I feel like its time for me to put into words the events that surrounded our goodbyes in Thailand.
Our last Sunday at Bethel church, our team took over the service and shared some things that God taught us. We shared about people who have impacted our lives, challenged them to love each other and the unlovable around them. We showed pictures and sang songs. We had learned a Thai song about Jesus being the Living Water that nourishes our weary and broken hearts and surprised them with it. Little did we know what an impact that simple song would make on them. Kyle called on the men of the church to step up, be bold and take risks for Jesus.
Monday through Wednesday, the missionaries took our team to a beautiful waterfall and we spent time encouraging one another and speaking Scripture into our lives. I’m still unpacking the significance of the words spoken to me. God is really showing me that my heart is open to hear his voice when I am in complete worship of him. What a blessing and motivation that has been for me to give him praise!
Friday, we hosted our final goodbye party at the Hope Center and invited all the girls who have been coming to youth group. Of all the surprises we have seen in Thailand, God was not done surprising us. I was not expecting the emotion and affection from the new girls at youth group. A few of them made us cards, others hugged us and begged us not to go. After the tears, the girls gathered around the guitar and sung us a Thai pop song that asked us to stay. Through our frenzied planning and organizing of Friday night Hope Center youth group, God’s love was poured out on those girls. Praise Jesus!
The second surprise that night was really for Judy and Irene. Their friend Jasmine and her mother and sister came to the goodbye party. Jasmine’s family has forbidden her from interacting with Christians, but due to the family’s German heritage, Judy and Irene have been able to develop a relationship with the family. They, especially the sister, have been very closed to the gospel, but Friday night, she began to ask Judy questions about prayer, and Judy and Irene were able to pray over them before they left. Jasmine’s mom rekindled her relationship with Ajaan Naat and we are encouraged to see the door that was previously tightly closed, crack open a bit.
Even Dave and Louise’s neighbors, who have been very closed, cold and hard for years, showed up. Conversation and new relationship between Louise and her neighbors began that night. Praise God that he can melt even the hardest of hearts!
Our last night, we went out to eat with the missionaries, pastor, Not and Goi and three of the youth. Afterwards, our team prayed over and encouraged Not and Goi with Scripture. Not said that we have planed so many seeds this year – one of them being him – and one day they will grow into huge trees that will bear much fruit. Amen! Some seeds have not sprouted yet. I think of my friend Cindi whom I got the chance to share the gospel with and challenge to read the Bible. Although she says she believes in God, she also believes in Buddha and sees no reason to change. Others are seedlings and are very fragile, like Oak and his siblings, who for possibly the first time in their lives, have experienced the love of God through us and the church. Some seeds are flourishing and beginning to grow fruit, like Not, who can’t keep quiet about the goodness of God, and who will soon be moving his coffee shop to Hope Center, where he can draw in and minister to youth. What a blessing it has been to be a part of the planting, watering and harvesting of the Kingdom of God in Chachoengsao, Thailand! I pray that God will one day soon lead Kyle and I back to Chachoengsao. We are leaving a new family. This place has become like home to me and I’m sad to leave.
So as I sit here in another world only a week later, praising God for the wonders he has shown me and morning the loss of dear friends, I am comforted by Philippians 1:6, “I am confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” I pray with confidence that God will send workers into the field I left behind. That he will plant more seeds in the lives of those who don’t believe, water the seed that just barely cracked open, protect the seed that is barely spouting and so vulnerable to evil that could rip it up, and encourage the trees that are beginning to bloom and plant seeds of their own.
Prajaow oi pon (God bless you), my Thai family. These are my prayers over you.
“May the peace of Christ go with them, wherever he may send them. May he guide them through the wilderness, protect them through the storm. May he bring them home rejoicing at the wonders he has shown them. May he bring them home rejoicing, once again into our doors.”
“You’re the God of this city,
You’re the king of these people,
You’re the Lord of this nation.
You’re the Light in this darkness,
You’re the Hope to the hopeless,
You’re the Peace to the restless.
There is no one like our God!
Greater things are yet to come.
Greater things are still to be done here!”