God chose the weak things… despised things… things considered foolish by the world to reveal the hope of the world (1 Cor. 1:27-28). In a climax of what appeared to be utmost defeat, the Cross revealed the power and unfathomable wisdom of God (v. 18, 25). This month I had the sweet privilege of vising the city and some of the surrounding villages of Ubon Ratchathani, located in the Isan region of northeastern Thailand. This is an area that is highly unreached with the Gospel, and has become a focus of future ministry for my school and the mission we are sent through.
There are many stories that I would like to share from this trip, as I gleaned many new experiences and insights; however, for now I will just share a glimpse. During my time, I visited several small house churches in some of the villages outside the city. Most of the people living in these villages are either elderly or are children because many of the young and middle-aged adults move to major cities to find work.
One of the missionaries I worked with shared the story of how they first developed a relationship within their target village, and thus developed an entry point for further connections. This is an important strategy because relationships are so highly regarded in this cultural context. Their connection was as stroke patient. This woman had previously lived in Bangkok, but was abandoned by her husband after her stroke, and out of necessity moved back to her village. The next two believers in that village were a fortune teller and a fishmonger. With them, a church was born.
The missionary shared some of the ways that they have seen the power of God at work in these women’s lives, such as how the Holy Spirit led the fortune teller to give up her only form of income and trust him for provision. Rather than tell her directly that she must not participate in fortune telling anymore, the missionary encouraged the woman to ask God what she should do. The woman returned the following week and said that God told her she needed to stop fortune telling and trust him. So she did! Out of all those in that village, these were the first to come. These woman could easily be seen as weak vessels, yet God used them to establish a community of believers in a village that had previously been resistant to the Gospel.
This month we started studying the book of Ephesians, and I have been greatly encouraged by Paul’s exhortations to the believers at that time. One of the concepts that has particularly struck me is the picture of Christ being seated in victory over every form of authority, including every dominion, title, and age (Eph. 1:21). Paul later writes that we are seated with and in Christ (Eph. 2:6). I am struck by the truth that just as we have salvation through faith in Christ, we also have victory in him. Our position in Christ is dependent on Christ. I believe I’ve had the opportunity to see small glimpses of this being practically worked out in life here, particularly in the context of spiritual warfare. I’m renewed in gratefulness for Christ’s work on our behalf.
This month we also welcomed eight new interns to Thailand, which also marked our one year anniversary of living here. It has been a unique privilege to welcome these new interns into our life here, and to have a role in helping them adapt to their new home. The prospect of “passing the torch” to them is still bittersweet, but I’m expectant for what the Father has in store for them – and us.
Finally, I have continued to work alongside the ministry of Compass 31, to study the language and culture of Thailand, and to engage in my church fellowship here. I have greatly appreciated your support and covering as I have sought to be faithful and consistent in the roles and opportunities the Father has provided. I have had many encouraging, as well as many difficult, experiences that are invaluable to me. One victory that I was encouraged by this month is that I wrote a simple introduction about myself in Thai and shared it with three of my Thai friends for a homework assignment. It was a neat way to grow in my language abilities and build context for relationship.
I have written long, but I pray that you are blessed by the knowledge of what you are part of. Thank you for sowing into my life and enabling me to experience and participate in some of what the Holy Spirit is doing here; I pray that we are both changed by it.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
Thank you for praying…
Your investment in prayer on my behalf, and on behalf of my team and the people I get to work alongside, is a precious gift to me. As you remember and have capacity, I would greatly appreciate continued prayer for the rest of my time here and the various relationships I am involved with, as well as wisdom and direction for future plans that the Father would have me step into. Thank you, too, for praying for my own wellbeing and growth in relationship with the Father. I am grateful that we serve a good and trustworthy Leader; the Shepherd of our souls.