As we prepared for our trip we sat down and discussed some of our goals.
The first goal and the most important was to share the love of Jesus Christ to those we came across whether they were Christian or not. We believe it is the most important gift in this world we have to offer. The second was to meet and encourage churches south of us that the churches in our area loved them and were thinking of them. Finally, we wanted to learn more about the situation in their area so that we would be able to pray, serve and work alongside our brothers and sisters in this area better in order to build God’s kingdom.
The week before the trip a few things went awry. Our guide disappeared and many members of the group who said they would come, had a sudden change of heart. However, God was certainly leading us and we were able to find new guides at the last minute and bring together our team the night before our trip began.
On the very first day of our walk we met some Tey Lah Kone Karen. They lived in a group of about 10 houses. Not quite a village yet, but it has the makings to be. We sat and talked with them and shared about Christ. Saw Kanay and Saw Hsi Koh talked about Jesus in their lives and all of the Tey Lah Kone listened intently. I then shared how Christians are not a people whom are special or high. We are like people who live around different water holes.
The first water hole is able to drunk out of, but it is dirty and no one gets anything from it except being sick. The second water hole looks beautiful but when you look around it you see death all around it. This water hole is poisoned, even though it looks good, it will only kill you if you drink from it. The third and final water hole is a little higher up the mountain but when you get to it you find the walk is worth it. The water is clean and good to drink. I then shared how Christians are the people who know all three of these water holes. But we choose to go to the one which really helps us. We want our friends and family to drink this water too, and so we share with them where they can go to receive this blessing.
After our talk the villagers there thanked us for encouraging them and coming. They shared how they wanted to hear more and that we were welcome to visit again. All of our team was very encouraged by this visit and the reception of the people there.
We continued on and for the next 4 days visited villages which also had churches. Usually we would walk about 6 -7 hours a day to get to each of these villages. When we arrived we would meet with the local pastor/evangelist then go visit other homes and invite them to a service which we would lead each evening. At every stop the people were so amazed to see Saw Kanay and Saw Hsi Koh giving their testimonies of Jesus in their life. Only three years ago there were no Karen Tey Lah Kone Christians. Now here before them stood two Karen Tey Lah Kone evangelists.
While visiting these villages we also learned about other villages in the area which are not Christian. One village called Tha La Wah is especially interesting. The story there is that a western missionary a long time ago lived in this village and taught the villagers to believe in God. However, he died before he could also share about Jesus Christ. So today the villagers of Tha La Wah believe in God and accept Christians as brothers and sisters in God, but they don’t believe in Jesus. While we were unable to visit this village during this trip, everyone in our group feels it should be visited if we go and visit this area again.
On the fifth day we finally arrived at the Thai town, Sangkhlaburi. Chris then left the group to continue in his work with Partners. The rest of our group met with local church leaders and friends. On Sunday we attended church at two different places. When members of these churches heard the music and the testimonies many began to cry. Some came up to us afterwards and shared how they were Christians their whole life and they never did any evangelism. Yet, these two men who had just came to know Jesus were going out and giving their time and energy to share about the love of God. So many people were humbled by how God was working through all of our team. We too were humbled and praised God to be of service to all of these churches and communities.
In Sangkhlaburi we also met one Karen Tey Lah Kone girl whose name is Naw Mu Thu Hay. She is studying at a bible school in Sangkhlaburi and hopes after her studies to return to Let Tah Koh village and help build the church there. We also met a Karen evangelist named Saw River. He lived as an evangelist in Ley Tah Koh village from 1991-1994. While no one received baptism while he was there, he is greatly responsible for the many seeds planted there. The people of this village still talk about him with great respect. He was overjoyed to see Tey Lah Kone whom he helped to teach so many years ago, now going out and doing evangelism. Praise God!!! Saw River was so excited to hear the music and testimonies that he requested the next time we do a trip like this to talk with him so he could arrange even more villages for us to visit. We are definitely looking forward to more opportunities.
After a few days in Sangkhlaburi we were anxious to go back. All of us have families and work to do. So we arranged for a truck to take us into another village called H’skay and from there we would start our walk back home.
To be continued….