Thailand Newsletter #6
Rusty: Our time here is rapidly coming to a close. The team is deeply rooted in their faith ministering to each other and to the Karen (Ka-ren with accent on second syllable) people. They have been extremely patient with me when I didn’t have a clue what would happen next and when plans changed at the last minute. They are centered in prayer. Jesus said in Matthew 21:13, “My house shall be called a house of prayer.” Prayer has circled this team and the work done. The team fully trusts God and gives me their trust, which humbles me. Each member is qualified on his or her own to lead teams to the foreign mission field. The only thing I brought to the table was that I knew the missionary hostess, “Susie”. It is easy to live out with the team Jesus Christ’s command in John 13:34, “A new command I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
If you’ve been following the Face to Faith Ministry newsletters then you should know a little about what we’ve been doing so I’ll not try to plough the same ground. Instead I’ll share an observation. The Thai New Year’s Day is January one just as ours is. They also celebrate New Year’s Day at the end of February and the middle of April. It’s the celebration in the middle of April in which we found ourselves immersed (almost as in full immersion baptism) with the Songkran water festival.
The Gregorian calendar and Christian calendar base year one on the birth of Jesus. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) Every time we think of a date, write a check and date our signatures we are testifying to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are claiming the birth of our Savior, of Whom it was written: “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3-4) and “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” (1 Timothy 1:15) Christ was born to die but He didn’t stay dead as we celebrated yesterday on Resurrection Day! We are redeemed! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
Here’s the observation. The Thai New Year is 2557. What do they base their number on? Year one is marked by the death of Buddha. They mark it by his death not his birth and not his resurrection from death. Buddha died and is no longer. He didn’t come back. He wasn’t resurrected. He supposedly passed on to Nirvana, the eternal state of nothingness. There’s real despair that comes from total and complete death. There’s no hope. A Buddhist lives a life of despair. The best a Buddhist can work towards is Nirvana and ceasing to exist. That’s how they end suffering, by ceasing to exist. Where’s hope? Hope is found in Jesus. “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5)
It has been a privilege to join God in His work with this team. We have worked hard to share the hope of eternal life found in Jesus. God has been generous to allow us to witness some of the fruit of His work. I always feel like Bob Uecker, baseball player and comedian who sat in the wrong seat at the baseball stadium and when told to move said, “I must be in the front row.” It’s as if God has given us front row seats and a glimpse into His kingdom work. Join God and serve Him. You’ll enjoy the view from the front row.
Thank you for sending us. Cindy, Tracey, Rhonda, Priscilla, Leigh Anne, Chandler, Don, Rusty.