Saturday, June 7, 2008

I am listening to the song "How He Loves Us" by Kim Walker. I feel the weight of His love as I think about the last week. What a privilege it is to partner with the Lord. Since our full schedule hasn't made it possible to write, let me give you a snap shot of stories:

Crossing Cultures
I am searching for ways to talk about Jesus with Thai's in such a way that culturally clicks. A few days ago I had a breakthrough. I jumped in a taxi cab off of a busy street. I saw that our driver was about my age so struck up a conversation with him. After asking some questions I found out that he was having a hard time making enough money driving taxi (the economy is down in Thailand). I replied, "Really? I have some advice for you..." I went on to tell of how my family struggled financially when I was young. At one time, I watched my parents get on their knees for 5 months in a row and ask the Lord for rent money a few days before it was due. Every time, the Lord answered many times to the penny that was needed. I told our young driver, "Go home and pray in the name of Jesus. Ask God to help you. And see what happens." At the end I gave him a little booklet and told him that it would show him how to pray. His heart was wide open, genuinely receptive. The conversation was so natural that I knew the Lord had prepared the moment and all I did was step into it.

An Outpouring: A Church at Work
Last Sunday my dad had the opportunity to preach at a Thai church. Afterwards he prayed over the leaders of the church. They were powerfully touched by the Holy Spirit, weeping, singing, falling to the floor. we then asked these leaders to pray for the rest of the church. At one point, as I was lingering in prayer over a young lady, I look up and saw that everyone in this church of 150 people was engaged in fervent prayer for one another. It was a powerful time of encountering the Lord.

Rich Christians, Hungry People
Every time I see someone begging on the street, my heart tightens. The woman I met two days ago was sitting with her two young daughters. I knelt down beside her and put my hand on her shoulder. I had almost walked by her but the Holy Spirit reminded me of my commitment to share to anyone who asks. He even told me the amount I should give. I spoke to her in Thai but quickly realized that she was not from Thailand, one of the many refugees from one of the surrounding nations. Her face still burns in my mind. I am seeking the Lord about how to give of myself (and ultimately Jesus) to these precious people.

Our part in the Big Picture
Thailand is changing. There is unprecedented unity among the national church leadership. Youth are dedicating their lives to holiness and living for Jesus. Just last month there was a camp for youth which expected 300 participants. Over 800 young people came, and this in the South of Thailand where only 1 in 2,000 know Christ. Our part in this shift is to do seminars in strategic cities around Thailand (In partnership with Thai leaders, in truth we are really behind the scenes). These seminars teach on the basics of Evangelism and Discipleship. We continue to meet with Pastors to plan these seminars.

I am still on this journey to listen and obey the voice of the Lord on a daily basis. I am enjoying walks where I talk freely with the Lord. Right now, I am learning how much my prayers can change things.

So when you read this, let me know how I can pray for you!

And now, it is time to say Lat dee sawat! (Good night!)

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Swimming laps...Jesus!

You wouldn't think the two connect, but yesterday they did! I was swimming in our beautiful swimming pool here in the complex to get some exercise (thank you to our Thai friend who is letting us use this condo for free!). There is something about water that calms my spirit and gets me really focused. It was towards the end of my work out when I noticed several others in the pool also doing laps. I felt that nudge that is becoming oh so familiar and decided that I needed to strike up a conversation.

So I said the first thing that came to mind (in Thai), "Do you know what time the pool closes?" They responded, "Oh! You speak Thai (in Thai of course)." And we were off from there. P' Gai, P' Dtaan and P' Monkon (P' denotes elder which you add before any one's name who is older than you as a way of showing honor) began asking me questions, "Where did you learn to speak Thai?" "How long have you lived here." And finally "Why are you in Thailand?" I have thought long and hard how to answer this question. I want to be truthful and yet at the same time I don't want turn people off by telling them I am a missionary (Thais immediately think that I am here to change their culture and religion.) So I use different answers for different occasions. This time I explained that my family has a foundation and is interested in helping Thai woman who want to continue with education but lack funds to do so. (this is true. My family started WorldTEAM foundation, our first project called Rescue the girl child, for this very purpose). Many of these women end up in prostitution.

Their next question made my heart jump, "Why do you feel this way? Why do you want to help Thailand?" As with the taxi cab driver a few days ago, I explained that God in heaven put this love in my heart because He cares for the Thai people. They were awestruck.

Our conversation continued on and eventually they invited me to join them for another fitness class this week. I rejoice in the fact that the Lord opened the door to take them one step further on their spiritual journey. I look forward to more interaction with these precious people.

Below is a picture of my pool. Such a blessing!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Rhema: The living Word of God

Before I left, a fellow missionary friend of mine, Kierra HIggens, commended to me John 15. She quoted it in one of our walking times together and the Holy Spirit quickened it to my heart. I haven't been able to get away from it since.

Yesterday morning I was reading the word (John 15) and I had a life-changing insight. Jesus says in verse 7, "If you remain in me and my WORDS remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you. This is to my Father's glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."

I understand "remaining" to mean being present with the Lord at all times. Something I am focusing on doing today. The next part of the verse says, "My WORDS remain in you." I have always thought this meant reading and memorizing scripture. But yesterday I was prompted to look up the greek word used in this verse for "Word". My Dad taught me long ago that there are two greek words used to translate "Word". One is Logos, meaning the written word of God. The other is Rhema, meaning the living spoken word of God specific to us or a group.

The greek in this verse actually says "Rhema". So the scripture is saying, "If my living spoken word remains in you..." Wow! What a promise. The Lord has already been showing me the power of listening to His voice. This verse takes it even further. The promise here is that if we are present with the Lord in all moments, and keep the words that the Lord has spoken to us personally in our hearts (that means we have to seek after hearing HIS voice), then we can ask for the desires of our hearts and they will be given (I am sure that our hearts will line up with HIS and we will ask things that are also in the heart of the FATHER when we are listening to HIS voice).

I find verse 8 interesting as well. By keeping the living words of Jesus that He is speaking to us in our hearts we bring Glory to the Father. The purpose of these words is that we BEAR FRUIT. So these are not just words of encouragement but they are words that we speak out in order to DRAW PEOPLE INTO THE KINGDOM. In that, I prove myself to be a disciple of Christ.

These are piercing words. I PROVE myself a disciple by bearing fruit. This shouldn't make us feel guilty if we are not bearing fruit, but it SHOULD motivate us to seek out the Lord so that we DO bear fruit. After all, this is a promise, "If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear MUCH fruit" John 15:5

So if you find yourself in a place where you are not bearing fruit, this is my encouragement to you: focus on hearing the Rhema word of God on a daily basis. What is He saying to you today? And then obey. It is only a matter of time before you WILL bear fruit.

Missionary Life: Washing Cloths

Although I know that this has little eternal value, I have found amusement in thinking about the small adjustment one has to make when living overseas...some for the better and some for say...growth!

One such area is doing laundry! Let me introduce you to my not-so-automatic washing machine. It consists of two different baskets in one machine sitting side by side. One is for the churning motion, and one is for spinning. So this is what a cycle of laundry looks like:

Step 1: Turn the dial to Fill Position, turn on the outside spicket, and put in the soap
Step 2: Drop in the cloths
Step 3: Wait until the water is at an acceptable amount. Turn the Dial to "agitating cycle*
Step 4: Come back in 5-10 minutes and hope that you didn't put in to much soap! (I did this once. LOTS of BUBBLES!!)
Step 5: Turn the Dial to drain and wait for the water to go down.
Step 6: Take each piece out one by one and rinse under the water spiket
Step 7: Place the load in the spin basket and turn on
Step 8: If the washing machine starts making a load pounding noise and the whole machine wiggles it means the load is not properly balanced. Adjust the load as necessary to make the cloths equal on all sides of the spinning basket. Do this as many times as it takes until the noise stops.
Step 9: Come back in 5-10 minutes and Take each piece out and hang on the line to dry.
Step 10: RESULTS: Stiff but clean cloths! Yeah!

Time for one load: About 30 minutes
Loads per Day: 1-2

Keep in mind I am not complaining. If Adele Booysen, my missionary friend in Kenya, were to read this she would probably laugh because I am sure she does not live with such a convenience as a washing machine. I actually greatly enjoy this "domestic" time. It gives me time to think and process through the day. I just thought I would share part of my everyday life with you.

smiles to you. Fan Dee (Or sweet dreams)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Eye Contact

I went to dinner with my Dad and a dear friend of our family's tonight. I was struck by an interesting cultural difference as we sat at the table by the window looking out over the busy traffic below. It was a quiet, spacious restaurant where the waiter's station was across the room. On several occasions I needed something. I simply turned my head and waited a moment until I made eye contact with the server. Usually it only took seconds. He was holding a dish to be delivered to another table but he gave a small nod and a half smile as if to say, "I see you and will be there in a moment." Once he was free, he came to our table to see what we needed.

At another point in the evening I went through the same motions. This time I needed water. Again I looked the waiter's direction and as if he had a radar for eye contact he turned. I discretely pointed to my glass (really, I barely moved my hand). He appeared in a few moments with a fresh bottle of water.

Thai culture is known for it's gracious ways. You don't shout or talk to loudly. Small motions and quiet words communicate so much. I find that my volume is so much quieter when I speak Thai.

I found the interaction with the waiter tonight beautiful. It was a subtle expression of the Thai heart. Quietly aware.

And now it is time to sleep. Lat Dee Sawat. (Goodnight to you. )

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Pulling Heaven to Earth

For the past few days, my Dad and I have had WIDE OPEN doors to minister to people's hearts. With so much happening, let's see if I can just summarize:

FRIDAY: In the evening we visited a local church that I attended when living here last year. After the service the pastor asked us to pray for several people. We lingered together in prayer over 2 girls. It was neat to watch the Lord give us impressions in our hearts which we prayed over them. Later we found out that what the Lord was showing us matched with what was going in their lives. I love how the Lord does that!

SATURDAY: Waking up at 5 AM, my Dad and I traveled with 5 other Thai to Korat, a city about 4 hours away. We joined a day of prayer and worship where people from all over the province of Esan came together. The meeting was electric! For over 6 hours the people worshipped and sought after the Lord with tenacity for a breakthrough in Thailand. By the end, my voice was course! But it was incredible to see the energy and focus of the people on seeing the Lord bring a harvest in their land.

View Larger Map

SUNDAY: Tucked away in a neighborhood in Bangkok, we joined a house church for their Sunday celebration. This was especially touching to me because it was at the home of my Thai teacher and prayer partner. Last year when living in Thailand I prayed consistenty with Jume (my teacher) that the Lord would use thier family to bring many to Christ. Now they have a dynamic house church where all of the members have known the Lord for 4-5 months or less! They are all new Christians! When we arrived, Jume's husband asked my Dad to Thai!! Even though my Dad hasn't done this for more than 20 years he managed to pull off a 45 minute message! Afterwards we had an incredible time of prayer ministry. The Holy Spirit touched each one in a unique way.

One little boy in particular named Best, was touched so powerfully that he just lay down on the floor. As he lay there, I prayed over him that the Lord would show him what heaven was like. He got up from the floor about 10 minutes later. I asked him what the Lord said to him, He described a picture that he saw of gold and red. In the center was a circle where people stood and worshipped. And water was flowing from the circle. Then he heard a voice saying, "You are here." When I asked him, where is "here". He said, "Heaven." He explained that he couldn't describe all that he saw. I was so excited. The Lord is inviting children to peer into heaven and pull it to earth.

When we finally got in our taxi to go home, I was exhausted! My dad started up a conversation with the taxi cab driver as usual. He shared about our work here in Thailand, especially about our heart to help young girls stay in school and out of prostitution. Our driver was so moved that we would love the Thai people enough to want to help in this way. I felt the Holy Spirit move in my heart to say something. I explained, "The Love we have for the Thai people comes from God. In fact, God wanted us to meet today so that you could understand His love as well." He turned around and said, "This must be God. I have goosebumps and feel something in my heart." The Holy Spirit moved in his heart. We offered him the Jesus video that he could watch with his family. He was so excited and touched that he did something I have never seen before. He said, "I am so moved that I don't want you to pay the full taxi fare." (This coming from a man that said earlier how hard it was to find passangers now to make a living.") We also were moved to bless him with EXTRA money, which he reluctantly accepted. In the end we got his phone number and plan to follow-up.

The Lord is moving in Thailand. And it is my pure delight to partner with Him in this.

Some pictures of our last few days:

Petch (Jume's son), Jume's Young sister, and Jume leading worship together

Some of the house church members. Can you find my Dad?

A young boy, name Bible (neat name huh?), reading the Word as my Dad preached.

And now it is time to go and play some ping-pong with my Dad! =-)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

"Do you know anyone who will go to heaven for sure?"

This was the last question my dad asked our young taxi cab driver before the Holy Spirit welled up in me in such a way that my heart burned. The moment we had entered into the taxi cab on our way to a meeting I felt drawn to talk with Eek. He is 23 years old (although looks no older than 16) and had been driving a taxi for 3 years. Although his goal is to go to college he feels burdened to work and save money to help put his younger sister through high school (you have to pay to go to school here). He is talkative and fun-loving. Our conversation started with normal things like what makes Thailand a great country (his answer: the King of Thailand, and the incredible Food).

We continued asking questions about Thai culture, until finally my Dad asked, "In Thai culture, where do people think the world came from?" Eek paused and answered, "I don't know. I have never thought about it." The discussion continued with both my Dad and I sharing parts of God's story. Until finally, my Dad asked the questions, "Do you know anyone who will go to heaven for sure?" Eek said, "No. Everyone probably has to come back and try again in another life." My heart was bursting. "Eek, can I speak plainly?" "Please do," he said. "I know that I am going to heaven for sure. But I am not perfect. Jesus made a way for me..." We went on to explain the rest of the gospel. As we talked, Eek would repeat back, "Oh so you mean that Jesus died in the place of me..."

We arrived at our destination. But before we got out of the car I handed Eek a Jesus video in Thai. "Watch this. It will tell you more about Jesus' life." "Thank you, this is something I have never understood before. I will watch it."

I don't know if I will ever meet Eek again. But I pray that the seed planted will grow and blossom.

This is love. I still struggle to explain the gospel in Thai, and even if I look silly doing so I will share about my King!

Our meeting that we were traveling to was also very encouraging. We talked with Jennifer Mullens from Power to Change, an organization that is working closely with the church leaders of Thailand to develop an interactive training website for pastors and christians. Very exciting work! We are seeking ways to partner with them in developing training on evangelism and discipleship.

The cry of my heart this morning comes from Psalm 27:11 "Teach me your way, O Lord, lead me in a straight path..." The Lord promises to show us what he is doing (See John 15:15). Today as I order food from the Auntie who sells at the corner stall I want to learn more about the compassion of the Lord and hear what He is already doing in this Auntie's life.

In the meantime, it is time to get ready for the day!