Our quick Christmas shopping trip to Bangkok unfortunately collided with deadly street protests of rebels plowing through blockades on bulldozers and tear gas being blown with giant fans. Thankfully, we were always safe, but we were very surprised at the crowd that greeted us the first time we walked off the sky train. We exited directly into a protest of thousands. People were covered in Thai gear from headbands, shirts, and wristbands to whistles, earrings, and flags. As it turned out, the government building under attack was directly across the street from the mall we wanted to shop. Needless to say, we found a different mall.
Throughout this season of celebration, we spent time decorating houses and cookies with our Life Impact family, teaching a new dance routine for outreaches, opening presents with one of our safe homes, filling our tree with homemade ornaments, and spending a beautiful evening celebrating Christmas with a Life Impact supported orphanage of Burmese children. It was a great opportunity for us and for our 3 year old to spend time with children who would only be receiving one gift to open this Christmas. There was a beautifully emotional moment as “Angels We Have Heard on High” was sung in Burmese and English. Several of the young children closed their eyes and you could feel their emotion; it was completely tangible and overwhelming. What a perfect moment of two languages praising our God in unison!
The most memorable and life changing experience; however, was my first overnight outreach to a very poor and remote village on a mountaintop. With no set expectations, I loaded my backpack and sleeping bag into the truck with several of our rescued youth for a 5 hour drive up the mountain. Loaded down with clothing, toiletries, toys, and food for the villagers we trekked along the dirt path and drove through a creek, that just a few months prior would have been impossible to cross in the rainy season. During the 6 month rainy season, the villagers do not leave or enter the village due to the creek being flooded. One look out the truck and we were abruptly greeted with a drop off of hundreds to thousands of feet, and driving over the narrow paths riddled with cracks, was tricky to navigate as it was only as wide as a 4-wheel drive truck.
Once we arrived in the village, we began the two day outreach of games, worship, dramas, and preaching of the Gospel. While a majority of the villagers had never heard the Gospel, they had also never seen a white person. I received so many curious glares, and I had to rely completely on the translator especially to answer the “who are you“ looks. To break the ice, it was recommended I bring fireworks to the village so I brought noise makers, and the children loved hearing them pop. They followed me around just waiting for me to light one so they could have a good laugh.
On the last day, there was a big production of worship songs, dramas, and a sharing of the Word. I was honored to help lead a grandfather into a relationship with the Lord, and several others made the decision as well. When the message was complete, we celebrated with a firework show, and never having seen anything like this, the people were in awe of the sight. Similar to the dramatic performances and songs, they watched with absolutely no distraction.
I was so excited to have the opportunity to travel to this village. It was heartwarming to give the children toys, clothing, and stuffed animals. While it was a step back in time with no running water, electricity, machinery, or any other modern elements, these people now have something even bigger: a relationship with Jesus and the Word of God. Please pray for those new believers and those yet to believe, and pray for a Holy Spirit movement in that place. We will be going back, and when we do, we want the numbers to have multiplied. We can plant the seed, water it and help it take root, but God will make the garden grow and flourish, multiplying in number the harvest for the Kingdom.
1 Corinthians 3: 6-9
With some time to myself, I decided to explore my new hometown on the Thai-Burma border. Confidence was brewing after last night’s easy navigation from my home to another missionary’s home, approximately 5 miles away. I assumed I would have no trouble journeying through the small city.
Like the time I ate a hot dog… from a gas station… in Thailand. I was WRONG.
In America when you lose your way, you generally know where you are and where you want to be, and of course, the signs are in English. Imagine being half way around the world, driving on the opposite side of the road, and all the signs are in another language. I thought I was being smart by only taking one street so I could simply turn around, when necessary. Little did I know that at a point, the street converted into a one-way so when I tried to turn around, I was thrust into an unexpected path. Fortunately, I was able to find a place I recognized, but I had no idea how I arrived at the destination or how I would get home. I was lost!
For the past few nights I have been having a recurring dream about one-way road signs. Similar to my drive in the city, I kept trying to turn around and go back the way I wanted, but there was no way to achieve this goal.
Life is like a one-way street. God desires to guide us, and He wants us to follow Him and take the path He has set before us. If we try to go another route, as Christians, we become just as lost as those we are trying to lead. Turn around on a one-way street and you face chaos, the unexpected, and the prospect of injury. Don’t take a route that will disorient you or those who come into your path.
Recently, I had a friend post on Facebook that he wished life came with an instruction manual. God has equipped each of us with the perfect instruction manual: The Bible. Follow this and the path He has gifted us through Jesus Christ, and you won’t miss the road signs. Without complete submersion in the Word, there is no other method to successfully navigating this life. Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)