Happy New Year

Songkran is the celebration of the Buddhist new year. Originally, my friends tell me that it started as a time when people were blessed by monks. The monks would splash a little water on each person to signify that the year ahead would be blessed.

Eventually, the celebration morphed into a city-wide water fight. Many cities in Thailand essentially shut down from April 13-15, as the Thai people celebrate the new year. These celebrations – or city-wide water fights –  attract tourists from all over the world to join in the festivities. It’s a time of fun. Celebration. The old year is gone, the new has arrived, and should be welcomed.

Bangkok actually held the world’s largest water pistol fight this year – I feel like that could have been epic fun.

But my city was wonderful. Friends and I tie-dyed t-shirts and went out around where most people play in the water. We had a grand time with our water buckets and squirt guns.

We got to an area where local businesses had set up booths, with DJs, dancing, and major water squirt-age. We could barely make it through the crowd, as locals and foreigners alike guzzled beer, sloshed water all over friends and strangers and listened to blaring techno beats.

It was so much fun – me and my friends started a flash mob. The drunken crowd watched as we all danced together, and actually started dancing with us. Definitely was a surprise for us, cause we never expected to be trend-setters. I mean, we’re a bunch of missionaries hanging out with our Thai friends. The best part though is that we’ll remember how much fun we had, when many of the other partiers will be nursing hangovers.

I found it frustrating to be a foreigner though, during this time. Drunkenness brings out a whole new low in the way that some foreigners act.

A few of us went to find a bathroom and separated from the group. We were cornered by a very drunken foreigner yelling – the whole time spraying water into our eyes – “You messed with the wrong ^%%$*#^$!&%&*^@&#%@(&%$(@%!” She continued to do that to every person who passed her, screaming obscenities at them.

That kind of thing is frustrating to encounter, but is thankfully not so prevalent.

Ultimately, Songkran was great this year. Totally loved it. I actually ended up on Thai TV, dancing in the crowd with a few of my good buddies. It was really the kind of clip that is just embarrassing, but still….

I WAS ON TV.

It was just great to hang out with friends and enjoy a little down time.

…and now, back to the daily grind.

Advertisements

Esther

One of the goals of working with folks is sharing vision – and not just about sharing your vision, but working together with someone to reach their own people, and be a leader in that. Transferring their broken heart for their people to you – where you beg God on your knees for their families in tears, begging God to somehow use you to speak life into their lives. That they would come to know you.

I’ve been praying that God would put me and my friend on the absolute same page – that I could encourage her to be a leader in the work in her village. We’ve been going to the 1000 friends village for a few weeks now, and I’ve just felt like she was holding back a bit. We’ve taught English, which is great. It is a door opener – but we want to be careful and incredibly up front with people that we are here to teach the Bible. We’ve been praying for her people – her aunt lives there, and we’ve been going to her house to teach. The children flock there.

Last week was amazing – we had ten children come, and three adults. But they wanted to hear English. Christianity went in one ear and out the other. How could we find a way to convey the greatest message of all? I had some ideas, but we needed to meet.

My friend and I have not had a chance all weekend – she’s been working on a paper that she needed to finish for her school. I didn’t want to mess with that. So I prayed, and waited.

Tonight (Monday), my roommate M and I started a Bible study with the girls who come to the community center. We’re going through “Lady in Waiting” because all of us are in the same place. We are single women, struggling to find that peace and contentment that comes only through Christ. My roommate, M, has desired to do this for a while. We set up to start tonight, and it was amazing. But that’s a story for another time.

Part of what we plan to do is divide up into groups for accountability. With our Thai friends, it’s scary to be open with the entire group looking at us. And sharing is harder in a large group session. We don’t want to have a silent person through the entire study. We’re here to show each other that we’re not an island, alone in our quest to follow after and serve God.

I had my eyes on my friend. I really wanted her to be my accountability partner through this, because we have a relationship that has gotten deeper as the weeks go by.

Anyhow, after we finished the introduction lesson and had some prayer time, I pulled my friend aside. “Can we talk about 1000 friends village for a minute?”

We decided to go this week. Her aunt has gone away to the beach this week, so the place where we always meet is closed. But we decided to go in faith, trusting that God will send us a place to meet.

“We need to be careful,” I shared. “We want to be open that we are sharing the Bible. If we don’t make sure that we tell people that we are intentionally sharing the word of God with them, they could feel betrayed. We are there to share with them. If we tell them that we are there only to teach English, they will come carrying pencils and notebooks, and open heads for the words we have to say. But their hearts could be closed. We want to tell them about God, and have their hearts open to the words that they say.”

She nodded. We don’t want to pull a bait and switch with people. We’re here to share the gospel. If they learn English, which I am happy to share, I am thrilled. But that’s not the whole reason I am here. I share the hope I have.

At this time, I took some time to encourage my friend in being a leader among her people. “God is going to use you to reach your village. You know them. You know what they are like, and how to talk to them. You know their history. They know you. They have seen you before you were a Christian. You have a story of your testimony to share with them. YOU are the person to reach your people.”

Her eyes brimming with tears, she bowed her head. Mine were about to overflow too. I gripped her hand, and bowed my head too, tears dripping from my face to the floor. We were at the far side of the room, and other people weren’t watching. Still, we didn’t want to show off our tears to the rest of the room.

“God has prepared you to reach your people. You are the Esther for your people. Do you know the story of Esther?”

She shook her head. I went over the story, explaining that Esther was one person, pulled from her people. She was the one who found favor with the King. He chose her. She was told of the plot to kill her people. She was the one person in a position to stop the slaughter of her people.

“You know what people told her who encouraged her to save her people? They said ‘who knows, but that God has brought you to this place for such a time as this?’ GOD put Esther in the place to save her people. He put her in the right place, with the right people, to intercede for her people.

“She had others with her. Going before the king was hard. She could have been killed if the king had not been pleased to see her. She could have been made fun of. She could have been persecuted for going before the king. But she did. She had courage.”

We were both weeping at this point.

“Friend, YOU are the Esther for 1000 friends village. God has saved you. God has put you in a place to learn and grow. God has put you where you are to reach your people; to bring them to an understanding of him. And you know what?”

We both looked up at each other. Our faces were tear streaked. We were a sight to behold.

She gripped my hand. “God told me the same thing today. I need to share with my family. I am the person to do it.”

My heart nearly stopped. My words were totally of God. I hadn’t really known what I was going to say when we’d sat down and talked. All I had known before was that I wanted to tell the creation story tonight. Then, I opened my mouth, and God has let words tumble out.

“I want to be here with you through this process. When Esther went to intercede for her people, she didn’t do it alone. People prayed with her. They fasted. They encouraged her in what God had given her to do. And I want to be that person for you.”

I squeezed her hand. It felt like we were a team. That we were fully together in an amazing task. I could hardly swallow past the lump in my throat.

“I want to help you.” I said. “I can’t do the task like you can, but I want to help. I will pray for you. I will come along with you, and sit beside you, and hold your hand as you share with them. I will be right there, bringing them before God. I want to pray for your family so much with you, so that they will be so prayed for that they receive God.”

She wrote down their names for me. I have them, and permission to share. I beg anyone who reads this to join in prayer for them, and share in the comments that you are praying.

We’re praying for NUN, her mother. We’re beseeching God for AMON, her father. Spending time on our knees for GITA, her sister. Time in the prayer closets for JAN, her aunt, who typically hosts our class times. Pray for the salvation of her cousin, FERN. And last of all, for her uncle, DANG.

It’s easy to make a general prayer for the lost people of the world. It comes in the form of a “dear God, please bless the heathen and help them to all know you.” But for people like my friend, it’s her entire family. Her entire village. She knows that the people that she loves don’t have a savior. She’s going to be sharing with them again soon. PRAY for words to say. PRAY that their hearts will be open to the word of God. PRAY that more hearts will be broken to reach the lost all over the world.

I want to ask one last thing. Write down these names. Post them on your refrigerators. Take time to pray for the salvation of these people. Beg God that they would come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. Join us in concentrated prayer. If you fast, skip a meal to pray for these people.

I’m going to call my friend Esther here on the blog. That’s not her real name, but that’s who she is to her people. Pray for Esther and her heart for her people.