Joel is going to be in Thailand in exactly 24 hours from now. I cannot be more excited! This is the moment we have both been waiting for and praying about for the past several weeks. Clarity and direction. Even though it has not turned out in the way we wanted, we are able to accept that this is God’s plan.
During the time I struggled with God, a friend of ours posted a thought-provoking comment on one of my Facebook’s status about going on a detour. He mentioned the story from Acts 16 about how the Spirit prevented Paul and his companions from going into Asia to preach the word. Instead, Paul had a vision of a Macedonian man asking him to come and preach the Gospel to them. So they went. Now we are reading letters to Christians in Philippi and Corinth and accounts of people’s conversion in Berea, Athens and many more.
My friend told me that sometimes God intentionally brings us on a detour journey and leads us through the scenic route for the purpose that He will only reveal when the time is right. So now we find ourselves almost thrown into this big Land of Smile, where people everywhere need to hear the Gospel. And it is not going to be easy.
Thailand is a Buddhist country. Even though there is freedom to worship in any religions, the spiritual environment is oppressive. Buddhism may teach people to do good but it does not provide the answer that most people are seeking – the meaning of life. It teaches followers to renounce everything that they have and basically pursue the state of nothingness. It says that there is no god; and our “self” is just an illusion. With nothing to hope for or grasp, many combine Buddhism with superstition. The perfect outcome for hopelessness and oppression.
In Paul’s account, he inserted himself in the culture wherever he went to and reached people where they were at. Some of them became followers of Christ but all of this came at a cost. Imprisonment. Jealousy. Accusation. Indifference. Rejection.You name it. Paul had it all. One thing he never did, though, was giving up. He used every opportunity to speak about Jesus even when it cost him dearly.
I suppose the reason why we are directed here is because there is so much need in Thailand. I am not saying this proudly or thinking that we have got all the answers. In fact, we barely have it all together. From our past experiences in New Zealand, we learned that ministry is hard and complex work. But the one thing we know and are sure about is that God is with us; and that he is going to use us in some ways.
Thus is our conviction – to share the Gospel where we are. New Zealand. Australia. Thailand. We are God’s missionaries. We are his hands and feet. We are his light. We may not know our exact destination now but we can travel with God, enjoy the scenery and take every opportunity presented to us to make his story known.
And fingers-crossed, we’ll finally get to go back to Australia because I want to see some kangaroos. 🙂