It’s hard to believe that we’ve only spent two full days in Bangkok so far and still have another week ahead of us. Our days have been so full and we have experienced so much, so it feels like we have been here for a week already. I realized last night that we only met Bee and Minnie Saturday morning, but they have quickly become a close member of this family. The past couple days have been packed with no time to post an update, so I am up early this Monday morning (it’s 6:30 am here, but breakfast isn’t until 8) to catch everyone up on some of the highlights from Saturday and Sunday. I’ll post Sunday’s update separately so it won’t be too much to read at once!
We started Saturday morning with breakfast at the guest house followed by worship and prayer. This is how we will start each morning in Thailand to prepare our hearts for ministry and listen for what God may want us to hear for that day. We prayed that in Thailand, the Land of Smiles, our smiles could communicate the love of Christ beyond any language barriers. We also prayed that the people would see more than just our smiles but the joy of the Lord within us, that they would be drawn to that and desire that for themselves.
Bee and Minnie, friends of John and Kathy, joined our group at the end of our prayer time and then helped us travel to Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. The temple grounds are full of intricately decorated towers and shrines, often built by people to earn good favor or karma. As we toured the area, Lindsey pointed out how beautiful everything was, but how sad it is that all this beauty is in honor of a false god. The purpose of our time at Wat Pho was to gain an understanding of how Buddhists see the world. When we understand their world view, we will have a better understanding of how they see Christ. John explained to us that Buddhists view sin like salt in water: you cannot take it out but only add more water to make it less salty. You cannot undo the bad things you have done but only do more good things to balance out your karma. Jesus turned that whole concept around. He took our bad karma upon himself so that we would not need to earn any favor or do a certain amount of good deeds to balance everything out. Instead he gives us a new life – a fresh start, a clean glass of water – as a gift.
After our visit to Wat Pho and our first Thai meal, we spent some time to rest at the guest house and then headed out to an evening service at Minnie’s church, Living Streams. Along the way, we stopped for dinner at a food court, where you could get pad thai, noodle soup, sticky rice with mango – just about any delicious Thai food you can imagine. While there, Mitch and Josiah sat and talked with Joe, an American ex-pat who was raised in Hawaii but has lived in Thailand for 20 years. He was raised as a Christian but is now a non-practicing Buddhist. You’ll have to ask Mitch and Josiah for more details about their conversation since I only joined them for the last 10 minutes. Joe was very kind and open to talking about Jesus, asking questions to clarify his understanding of who Jesus is. Before we left, I asked if he had anything we could be praying for. He answered no, saying he was in good health. Pray for Joe and the work that God may be doing in his heart as a result of his time with Mitch and Josiah.
After dinner was the service at Minnie’s church, where they were having a special guest speaker, Leif Hetland. It was a powerful time of people encountering the Holy Spirit with many people experiencing physical healing.
When we arrived back at the guest house, we were all pretty exhausted. It felt like much more than one day had passed since the morning, so we were ready for sleep but excited for the next day to come.