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Though it’s been several weeks since our trip to Thailand, it’s taken some time for me to process all that happened there for me personally. Here are some thoughts with possibly more to come:
When I was told that I was supposed to preach in the village church two days out, it became clear I could not rely on my preparation. It was a wake-up call of how much I depend on my preparation more than the Holy Spirit whenever I preach. (In talking to some missionaries, I realize that two days notice is more than what most missionaries get when asked to preach)
It was foolish of me to think we can go undercover, bust down doors and rescue children firsthand. We can’t and shouldn’t attempt to do anything firsthand because we could totally jeopardize the whole child rescue operation. What we can do however, is support those who are going out, investigating, and risking their lives to rescue these children.
It was also naive of us to think we could drop in and adopt of village when it literally took an army of ministry school students to trek up the mountain to conduct a two day outreach with us. Natives are best equipped to reach their people but we can definitely equip, encourage and spur them on.
The reality remains that the gospel alone can save souls. Even if we were to rescue children from trafficking, what good is that if they are still in bondage to sin? (This is why I appreciate ZOE’s commitment to the gospel first and foremost)
The sense I got this year and last year with ZOE in Thailand was not looking at the missionaries and thinking, “Wow, that can never be me”, but rather, “Why not me?” And that doesn’t mean that the missionaries there are not remarkable people, because they are. What it means is that they are so personal and relatable, they really make you consider whether you could see yourself there serving alongside them.
Finally, it became clear early on that my role was not to run ahead of the team and wait for them to catch up. It was to come behind them and help each of them catch what God was doing and realize why God had them on this team. To see God move in each of their hearts and witness His work continue to unfold back home is an unspeakable blessing and privilege. (Listen to the Kawashima’s share in “This is going to be an action-packed message!!!” to see what I mean)
Here is the message I shared this past Sunday from James 1:19-25, which includes illustrations from our Thailand Exploration Team with ZOE International and powerful testimonies by Fred and Irene Kawashima.
On September 26, I was able to address our church family on what I sense should be our perspective on the human trafficking situation in Thailand based on our vision trip there. I thank Pastor Cory for the opportunity to share what the Lord has been putting on my heart for the past year. You can download the message here or listen below.
Here is the video I linked to at the end of the message:
*Be sure to hear Pastor Kenny Wada share on his impressions of Thailand on October 17.
A week has gone by since we were in Thailand and the times I wasn’t fighting jet lag, I’ve been able to reflect on what God showed us in Thailand. I found myself reading through my blog posts and recalling specific situations in which God revealed Himself to us, what I call “God moments”. This is important because it’s the reason why the four of us went to Thailand as opposed to just finding out what’s happening there through websites, videos or pictures. We wanted God to pave the way for our future ministry in Thailand.
Day 8 meant bye bye to Chiang Mai. But we spent our last day relaxing at the Horizon Resort, biking through the botanical gardens and swimming in the pool. It was much needed R&R and we appreciate ZOE for getting us the local rate.
Next it was off with the Tang Gang to ZOE where we had lunch with the families. I ate with the worship leader and Bible school staff member who leads outreaches to the hill tribes. He is a soft-spoken man but a powerful leader with a wife and two children with one on the way. It was neat talking story with him and discovering his gift as a worship leader and talking shop about song choice and writing songs.
After we had a ping pong tournament with the kids. I met one boy who had the biggest smile. He literally smiled with his entire face, it was so precious. Seeing him laugh and smile made my day. Playing with all the children and seeing the joy and the love between the children was again very touching. And to think these children were rescued from difficult situations to have this new life in Christ. Amazing.