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!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bangkok in Full Color: Learning to Love

Once again I walked the streets of the center of Bangkok last night. I was on my way to a meeting with my Dad and the pastor of Jaisamarn Church, the largest church in Bangkok and a solid leader in advancing the Kingdom in Thailand.

While talking with my colleague and friend Art, my heart was taking in the sights and sounds around me: uneven pavement, foodstalls and swarms of people, foreign men walking with young Thai girls, the smell of exhaust from taxis, cars and motorcycles, and finally a woman sitting on the street begging. My eyes locked on her cheap plastic prosthetic leg. How did she lose it? Is she a refugee from Burma? Would she understand me if I spoke to her in Thai? How can I help her? I was following a group and therefore kept walking. But the picture locked in my mind.

This morning I woke up at 3 AM (my body is a still confused about what region I am in). I began asking about the ministry of Jesus. Jesus walked the streets and in many places the scripture tells us that He healed "all the sick" Matthew 8:16. I look at my own life in comparison to Jesus. I am tempted to be discouraged by the fact that I am not YET doing all that Jesus did ( I do believe it is possible). However, through reading Face to Face with God, I was reminded that Jesus spent the early years of his life growing "in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men." Luke 2:52. Even though Jesus was the Son of God, he modeled the fact that we must grow into a place where the Spirit rests upon us and the Lord speaks over us, "This is my Son whom I love; with Him I am well pleased." Matt 3:17. So I think that learning to listen to the voice of the Spirit and obey is part of growing in favor with the Lord.

So naturally my next question is, "What can i do NOW when I meet a woman begging on the street?" I am sure Jesus saw many people sick and hurting before His time came. This morning, I found my answer in John 15. Jesus' progression of thought is what caught my heart. "Abide in my love. If you obey my commandments you abide in my love. This is my commandment: love one another." Therefore, Abiding in the love of Jesus = loving others.

So my goal today, is to approach every interaction with the people that I meet by asking, "Lord, how can I demonstrate your love in this moment." I choose to love boldly, through praying or talking about Jesus or smiling or saying words of blessing. As I do so I expect the Holy Spirit to move with me.

I will let you know how it goes. =-)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A 6-Week Journey

I sent out this email en route to Thailand. For the benefit of those that did not receive it, I repeat it here:

I am sitting in the terminal of the Taipei city airport awaiting my connection flight to Bangkok, Thailand. Even after a 14 hour flight it is amazing how alive I feel as I touched down in a familiar city (I lived here for 3 summers during college). But my heart looks forward to the sights and smells of Thailand.

For the past week I have sought the Lord about the purpose or theme for this trip. Often the Lord gives me a promise or picture of what to expect as I go out. This time was no exception, however, I was really excited when the Lord showed me that the promise involved YOU. Let me explain.

The focus for my heart for the past few months is pictured in Isaiah 50 which describes a disciple of the Lord who listens, obeys, and is able to sustain others with words of life. The Lord spoke to me out of this passage for this trip. As I cultivate my awareness of the presence of God, listen to His voice, and obey the Kingdom of Heaven WILL be advanced. My life will be changed and people around me will be affected.

As I thought about how to communicate this to you, the Lord showed me that the promise was not just for ME. As you take part in this journey through prayer I believe this will happen as a community. This is possible for your life as well.

Before I left, I shared this promise with several people. Everyone I talked to shared that they also long for an increase of the presence of God in their lives.

So I want to challenge you, will you go on a six-week journey with me? I will be communicating through email and my blog what happens as I listen to the Lord MOMENT BY MOMENT. Will you do the same?
A friend asked me, “How exactly do I step into this?” I thought long and hard about this. For me, I am feeding myself on the promises of God’s word. And in each situation I find myself in I ask, “Holy Spirit what are you doing right now and how can I be a part of it?” I am also reading books and listening to podcasts out of Bill Johnson’s church in Redding California (check out where they are experiencing incredible moves of God (I am especially benefiting from Bill Johnson's latest book Face to Face with God). I am doing whatever I can to build my faith and understanding of the Kingdom.

Join me. And as you journey please share so that I can learn from what you are experiencing.