After a couple of months of you anxiously awaiting our next family blog post, I’ve decided that you deserve a trilogy of blog posts, which will be written by three different authors. This post focuses on an October Mission Trip when Mark Reese (member of Pender United Methodist Church) , Rakchat and myself broke away from our main group for a few days to visit Hskay Village. So without further ado here is Episode One of the October Mission Team Trip.
In October, our family was greatly blessed to host Mark Reese a member of Pender United Methodist Church and Felicity and Charlie Coe of Greenwich Presbyterian Church. It just so happens that Charlie is also the Farthest Corners Board Chairman making his first visit here, which made it all the more special for us.
After a couple of days getting over jet lag and traveling, we arrived in Bung Klung village on 20 October and rose the next morning to begin our walk. We were able to get a head start in a ride in our truck until we reached a part of the road that was impassible. So our band of three began our walk to our first stop in Ley Tah Kuh village where we picked up another evangelist friend, Chaw Bwaw. We had a quick lunch, made some new friends then headed out for our next stop, where we slept for the night. That night we were joined by Hsi Htoo an evangelist Farthest Corners supports and who lives in Hskay village. He guessed that we would be staying here for that evening and had caught up with us.
The next morning we headed out to Hskay village and after walking all day, our band of now five arrived on the outskirts of the village. The first thing Hsi Htoo did was to take us to a field hut where we met a Thai man. Actually, you would think meeting a Thai person in Thailand would not be so odd. But in a hill tribe village so far out in the jungle, it was kind of interesting to meet with someone I could speak directly with in Thai. He came out of his hut and the first thing he said was that he wanted to learn more about Jesus. He had attended some of my teachings and meetings in the past and was still interested in the gospel. Awesome!!! We had a conversation about how Jesus comes into our lives, changes us and brings us into new life now and forever. He listened intently and then asked some more about other religious things. He invited us for dinner but with the sun setting and us badly needing a shower and having more meetings that night, we declined. But it was a wonderful time to meet with him, and I look forward to meeting him again on my next trip to Hskay village. Please do lift this man up in prayer as he has a genuine interest in learning more about Jesus.
We then headed into Hskay village and stayed with a Christian family there. Wasting no time, that night I met with two new believers who had come to share with me their desire to receive baptism. The younger woman Naw Eh Kee had come from Noh Poh Refugee camp two years ago after marrying her Buddhist husband from Hskay village. She attended a Christian school in the camp and had also attended worship there, but she never enjoyed going because she felt she was forced to go. After moving to Hskay a couple of years ago she had a baby. During these last two years Hsi Htoo an evangelist that Farthest Corners supports began to share the gospel with her. This was a gospel of freedom and joy, not one which was forced upon her and one she came to receive as true. She came to accept Christ, even though she knew that it may cause problems for her and her family.
Then Pu Pu Daeng “Grandfather Red” shared his story with us. He had been seeking God for over 60+ years and had even been a Buddhist monk at one time. Later on his son had become a monk, something which any parent in Asia is very proud of. But as for him, he found no satisfaction in Buddhism. After giving up on Buddhism he spent many years focusing on the worshipping of spirits, but he saw that the spirits only took and never returned anything back. He shared with me in disdain, the spirits are useless! One day he became very sick while at his bamboo hut, all alone. His only possession of worth were his cows that he watched over, but after the pain became to great he passed out. When he awoke he found that his cows were gone.
He then decided to pray and he shared how he prayed to the true God, the one God that he had heard about from other Christians. When he opened his eyes, his cows which had gone missing, were all standing in front of his house as if they had never left. When he felt better he went to see Hsi Htoo to learn more of the God who brought his cows back to him. Hsi Htoo graciously shared the gospel not only in word but seeing how this grandfather was sick, he has now taken him into this grandfather into his home to care for him. Grandfather Daeng also shared with me that anytime he became sick, he was comforted by the prayers he offered to God and by the prayers of many others. After listening to both of their stories and seeing their desire to follow God with all their heart, I asked them to come the next day for a training to ensure they were ready for baptism.
The next day we started our training and many members of the church came as well. I used the story in John 11 of Lazarus being raised from the dead to teach them about what being a disciple of Jesus truly means and how we as a body should be faithful. You see being a Christian in this village results willingly to a life of hardship and to be ostracized by many of their fellow villagers. But in Christ, there is a hope that one may find no where else if we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior. I wanted these two to hear gospel and at the same time know, that their choice was not one that resulted in the easy path in life. Instead, this choice would call for them to go the harder route. After they ensured me they were ready to be disciples of Jesus Christ we took a time of prayer and then waited for the rest of the church members to join us.
As we waited for evening, I talked with the daughter of the house (Naw Ah Paw) we were staying in. She had attended the baptism training too and shared with us about her fear of being baptized. She knew that like her father she would be shunned by her friends in the village, if she received baptism. This was a difficult conversation to have. The forces of her friends and village were pitted right against her belief in Jesus, and she had just a few option that we could see:
1. She could just not receive baptism, knowing it was by faith alone in Jesus that she was saved. But then with this there is a question about her obedience to follow Jesus as a disciple.
2. She could wait to leave the village, and then receive baptism at another church. But then she is giving a poor witness in the community she lives within.
3. She could receive baptism in the village and be a witness for Jesus. However, this would most likely cause her the most hardship and the loss of a few friends.
It was a difficult discussion that she had to make. There was no force by us but only pointing to her to follow the Lord’s call of what He desired in her life. Rakchat and I assured her that our love and respect for her would be the same, no matter what choice she made. In the end, she chose to receive baptism knowing it would be for the glory of God and a witness of her faith by her and to her community.
That evening we as a body of believers went behind the house and entered into that small stream. The three individuals being baptized ranged from a teenage girl to an elderly man and we were surrounded by a body of believers, all new in their faith. Our Lord too was there and I truly believe He rejoiced as three believers were welcomed into those baptismal waters. Mark Reese who came along on the trip and after walking two days and knowing we had two days of traveling to get back, said it best when he said it was all worth it, just to witness those baptisms.
That night we had communion and celebrated with the believers at Hskay. We were also extremely blessed to have a leader from the Karen Baptist Church in the area join us that day. We have become friends over the years so it was with great joy to see how God brought us both to Hskay on the same day to participate in the worship and baptisms. It was also nice to have confirmation from him that he saw these believers as ready for baptism.
The next day we hopped on a tractor ride for a few hours to take a few mile off our walk and then started our walk back to Bung Klung. Traffic was light with only one elephant heading in the opposite direction. After about five days of traveling and doing our work, Rakchat, Mark and I were able to meet up with the rest of our team and start making our way back home. We all had such amazing experiences and I hope the next two blogs will do justice to what our Lord is doing here through so many!
There are no words to describe how much joy it brings to me to be the hands and feet of so many of you, here in the mission field. Your sacrifices, prayers and willingness to give have brought our family a tremendous amount of blessings that we will never truly be able to repay. I also want to give a special thanks to Pender United Methodist Church who made this trip happen. They are truly an amazing partner in mission and ministry and we are humbled by their love and support for our work here. So now I end as I always do, thanking all of you. We do so in hope that this blog will bring a warmth and assurance to your heart that our Lord is working amongst all of us in places near and far.
Emmanuel, He is with us. Praise be to the Lord!