Hi There Team!
I pray that this month has been a blessing for you and your family. I keep reminding myself that it’s summer there! Living in the tropics is starting to feel pretty normal, though the heat is still a little much for me. Lately there have been some decent extremes in which it has gotten quite hot, but then there have been a few times where I have actually gotten cold!
There are several things on my heart to share with you from this month, and I am again renewed in gratefulness for you. I often feel that it is beyond my ability to adequately depict what you are part of, but I pray that by the Spirit of God, he continues to reveal to you the ways in which you are participating in his kingdom, as well as greater measures of his heart. Your willingness to benefit me in partnership with him is a precious gift to me.
As I’ve sought to intentionally partner with the Holy Spirit in my relationships, I have been encouraged to see him move and minister. This month I have had opportunities to continue to connect with one of my friends from church who has become a Thai sister to me; serve and develop relationships with other students at my church through English conversation practice; connect with a woman currently working in one of the red light districts here; and welcome a young woman and her son into our Compass 31 family.
I would like to take a moment to share with you a little bit about my experience in the Red Light. Nearly every week, my team and I go to a specific strip to prayer walk, be light and make connections, and exemplify healthy family-like relationships. Though I feel like I have been making significant improvements in my language ability, I have still struggled with being intimidated in the process of making connections with the women working in the bars. This has been something I have been praying about, and I have been asking that the Holy Spirit help me to be sensitive and responsive to his voice and leadership. In addition, this month we had several training sessions that were focused on equipping us to work effectively with young women who have been exploited and abused, and I was strengthened in vision and the desire to use the tools I’ve been given.
Last Tuesday night my teammate and I turned down the dark, narrow street that marks one of the most oppressive parts of this red light district. It’s cluttered with bars, loud music, and strings of lights. As we walked, a woman called out to us to come in and play some pool. We crossed the street to hear her better, and decided to take her invitation to go inside, hoping to make a connection. It was evident that this woman was under the influence of something, but she was friendly, expressive, and enthusiastic about the opportunity to connect with us. She was easily impressed by my limited Thai, and shyly stepped out in practicing her English. We drank soda, played pool, and laughed a lot, all the while getting small glimpses into the story of this beautiful woman. It was most definitely a bittersweet experience, but I am grateful for how the Father provided the opportunity to meet and engage with her. I would love to invite you to partner with me in prayer for her. I hope to continue to connect with her in the coming weeks, and want to actively trust the Father to accomplish his purposes.
I was struck by the connection between our celebration of freedom on July fourth, my connection with the woman in the Red Light, and the privilege we had of welcoming another woman into the process of restoration and freedom. It is such a gift to see the Father’s hand at work as we invest in prayer and seek to be faithful with what he has set before us. He is the God who heals. He is the God who makes outsiders, insiders. He is the God who sacrificially loves with profound willingness, unto immeasurable joy. I am still very much in the process of grasping and living by the truths of the Father’s love, provision, and capacity, but I am honored to be on the journey.
To continue, one of our key focuses with regard to culture has been on power and authority in Thailand. It has been really interesting to consider the distinctions between Thai and American culture, and the implications that they carry. Our team had an insightful and provoking conversation about how this relates to Thailand’s future, especially in light of recent events. We are in a uniquely significant time within Thailand’s history, and in the midst of the unknowns, I think that it is in the Father’s heart to move in profound and redemptive ways. Interesting to note is that Thai people tend to operate according to a high power distance and a communal mindset. They tend to highly value loyalty and to be content to fulfill the expectations of their role. They also value harmony and cohesiveness, and are likely to engage in confrontation indirectly as a way of facilitating this.
Thank you again for joining me in this journey. You are an integral part of my team and support system, and I pray the Father richly blesses you.
Held in the Father’s Hand,
“Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.” Psalm 103:1-2 NLT
Would you join me in prayer?
Please pray for Emotional Resilience: The work I get to be involved in is profoundly beautiful, but is often emotionally demanding.
Please pray for Relationship in the Red Light: Our team is currently connected with three women in our focus district. Please pray for grace, peace, and breakthrough.
Please pray for Our Incoming Interns: The juniors are working hard to be fully-funded, and we are excited to welcome them to their new home in about 6 weeks!
Please pray for Strategic Engagement: As we seek to continue to invest and finish our time here well, please pray that we be faithful to the roles the Holy Spirit is inviting us to fill, including in our studies, relationships within the community, and team.