I’m sure I’m not the only one who would look back and think, “What a month!” I’m excited to share several highlights with you about some of the opportunities I have had and things I have learned. At the same time, I don’t want to overload you with information, so if you have questions or are interested in hearing more about anything specific, please feel free to reach out to me! I can’t guarantee that I will respond immediately, but I so enjoy hearing from you. It really is such a gift to be in partnership with you. Thank you for spurring me on in who I am designed to be as you walk out God’s design for you. Even with its messy challenges, it is such a privilege to be part of the body of Christ.
This month has specifically been marked by starting formal ministry with Compass31, a Christ-centered ministry that works to disciple young women who have been exploited by human trafficking by walking with them through the process of restoration and empowering them to live in freedom, as well as to prevent the cycle of exploitation through education and outreach. It is such a privilege to have the opportunity to serve in this context; I’m excited to learn from the people I get to work with and to contribute in a small way to the furtherance of God’s work through this ministry. My primary role involves building relationships and assisting in the administration of an entrepreneurial project that gives girls who are currently in the Red Light District and those who are now learning to walk in freedom an opportunity to develop skills and earn money in a healthy way.
SOME NEW EXPERIENCES I HAD THIS MONTH:
- Taught Sunday School for a small group of Thai and English speaking kids for the first time!
- At a frog leg for the first time!
- Went to a Thai wedding!
- Participated in Children’s Day – a national holiday dedicated to celebrating children – and visited a friend’s village!
- Passed all the necessary tests, received the proper paperwork, etcetera, so that I am now able to officially drive a motorbike on the roads! (It has been really helpful to be able to drive myself and my teammate to ministry, outreach, and church, specifically, as well as to have the freedom to connect with friends more easily.)
One of our primarily focuses this semester is to research the religious dynamics of Thailand. This process involves a lot of personal study, but I am also working to be intentional to engage with the Thai people in my community to hear and learn from them. Though it can be a slow process to “dig deep” and gain understanding of the underlying elements of worldview, it has been fascinating to consider aspects that would be easy to take for granted. Studying religion in this context becomes much more personal, and thus, in many ways, more complex. My desire is to gain further insight into the value system and belief structure of the people of Thailand so as to more effectively understand and engage with them. My ultimate hope is that this will lead to opportunities to love them better, develop deeper relationships, and to effectively communicate the Gospel.
One aspect that I was struck by this month is the importance of modelling within a family context. One of my friends shared that this is one of the primary ways that children learn to practically participate in their religious beliefs. So, for instance, a child will go with their mom to make offerings to monks in the morning. In a tangible way, the dominate beliefs of the people of Thailand are intertwined into daily life. Religious symbols and expressions are so prevalent that I can at almost any given time see something of religious significance. There are also several elaborate events and ceremonies throughout the year.
Especially having been here longer, I am learning how much Buddhism is intertwined with Animism, forming a kind of “Folk Buddhism,” including spirit worship and appeasement, as well as being a “good person,” going to the temple to pray, make offerings, and meditate, etcetera. It has also been interesting so start to develop ideas of “cultural bridges” to the Gospel, as well as potential hindrances to it. As I have studied this month, I have realized in a new way how foundational family is in this culture in a way that is distinct from Western culture. There are some beautiful expressions of the Kingdom here that have been corrupted or distorted, but I believe that God would transform them through the Gospel so that whole families are reached, discipled, and equipped to influence their communities.
This month I have been reminded of God’s character and mercy in a new way. We have a generous and good Father who desires to use everything in our lives for our betterment. He’s near, faithful to walk with us, and he works mightily on our behalf as he accomplishes his purposes for good, glory, and restoration. Praise the Lord! I pray that you be encouraged and strengthened in spirit as you continue to faithfully invest in the Kingdom Story; may his Word sustain and refresh you, and may your faith flourish in this season. I am so grateful for you and the glimpses I get to see of God’s work in and through you; I’m grateful that he sees it all, and that all will be revealed in the coming age.
Love and Blessings,
“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.’” Psalm 92:12-15
- Please pray for intimacy with Christ and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit as I seek to live out of the reality that God is the source of my sustenance and satisfaction, that fruit is produced by the work of the Holy Spirit as I abide in him, and that I am invited to be motivated by the Father’s love, approval, and pleasure.
- Please pray for truth, restoration, freedom, and protection for the girls that have found a home at Compass31 and for those who are still being exploited. Please pray for spiritual breakthrough and opportunities to build relationships, and to share the love of Christ and truth of the Gospel, specifically as we prayer walk in the Red Light District each week.
- Please continue to pray for health, wisdom, and protection for me and my team.
- Please continue to pray for me as I study Thai, and that I would continue to cultivate a teachable heart and attitude as a learner in every capacity I am involved in.
Thank you so much for partnering with me and those I am surrounded by in prayer. I am so grateful for and encouraged by your investment.