Sliding out of the “people mover“ van, rain beats down on my head as I am greeted by young children clad in knockoff American paraphernalia and smiles. They are curious, and so are we. The landscape is painted with shanty houses drowning under a siege of rainwater. It’s the rainy season in northern Thailand. Metal scrap and tarp rooftops sink into the tenuous twig walls of the houses, and the frames stand with a Seuss-ical lean. The humor; however, is missing from the scene. We’re in a Muslim slum.
Ready for our tour, we’re clad in rain boots recently purchased solely for this purpose, and we make our way into the village. Our trek begins slowly as the depth of the water surprises us. Our hands are quickly filled with the excited fingers of the children. Twenty or more surround us to eagerly help us through the mud. We need the help. It’s quickly realized that the mud is nearly impossible to navigate with rubber boots. My foot sinks quickly into the mud, and the suction produces an inescapable grip. My foot presses exhaustedly against the inside of the boot, but the mud is unyielding. So with every ounce of faith, I slip my foot out of the boot and begin stepping barefoot into the unknown.
Prayer floods my mind as goo slips between my toes. My first thought, “God, send a whale. I’m drowning!“ I also offer up thanksgiving for the Hepatitis vaccines.
The parents of the children were laughing as they relaxed on their stoops, and we tried to make our way through their unnatural neighborhood. The children were so eager… almost proud of their home and circumstance, but how could they be? A small toddler was bathing in the flood and playing with a beer bottle as cattle and chickens were defecating in his bathwater. The smell of decay and garbage was intoxicating, but the smiles gleaming from the children and adults was even more so.
In the distance, the mountain range spreading across Thailand and Burma stood majestically, and the beauty of these people reminded me of our Creator. Four years later, God has brought me back to this moment as I look out the window of my new home in Thailand. In the distance, I see the same mountain ridges standing with all honesty and beauty as before, and as the peaks reach up and brush the shadowy, swollen rain clouds I’m overcome with a feeling of gloom. For in those hillsides of our neighboring Burma, death, destruction, and persecution are rampant. When I look upon these mountains from my window, I’m reminded of the beauty that revealed itself the day at the slum but also reminded of my purpose here. God has given us the enormous responsibility of being a light in the darkness. And, I know the church shines only as bright as it’s individual members shine so I can dwell on the things that are troublesome or distracting in this fallen world, or I can focus on the promises of God, and overcome the darkness.
“We walk by faith, not by sight.”
2 Corinthians 5:7
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
My son reaches up and cradles my cheeks in his hands as he stares longingly into my eyes. It feels like he is reaching into my soul, sees who I am, and still loves me unconditionally. He hunkers down and cuddles into my chest before quickly popping back up to stare into my eyes. Climbing me like a jungle gym it seems he can’t get close enough. As he searches my face, the emotion is overwhelming.
It’s the morning after a colossal tantrum that resulted in me banishing his race cars for the entire next day. Initially, I think this physical charm is preceding a request to play Angry Birds or race cars, but he never speaks a word. I wonder if I have ever looked at him with such intensity and if I am capable of such undistracted peace. I’m reminded of God’s request for us to come to him with childlike innocence. God has gifted children with the purest minds. They can wipe the slate clean and see goodness in others. I pray my son never faints in his ability to love and deliver such amazing attention to another and, more importantly, to God.
It’s my goal to recover that pure goodness that, God provided, has been gifted to me through my child. If I am overcome each time my son approaches me with loving gestures, I can understand how my Father in Heaven must feel when I do the same for Him.
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.
For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18
We would like to thank River City Church for helping create this video.
Through a series of dreams, it has been revealed that we are called to the mission field. In one particular dream, the beautiful symbolism of walking down a narrow dirt path with several young, Asian children leaning from open windows of street houses holding fishing poles above our heads, is a simple reminder that by loving the children of the safe home we will be helping raise children who will become powerful fishers of men. Besides being fed the Gospel each day they will be fed the fish that will be grown on the land. It is also a revealing of our calling towards full-time Christian mission work. A fishing pole is useful in catching a fish that is ready to be hooked; it was us who were being fished along the narrowly traveled path toward life as missionaries. We’ve taken the bait!
When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”… And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking… For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken… And Jesus said to Simon,“Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.”
Luke 5:4-11 (NKJV)