Outreach Week 3
On Wednesday, we bid farewell to our friends from Dongsawan and Nonsomboon Churches in Isan. It was bittersweet to leave our “family of the heart” because they have been so good and loving to us, exhibiting the spirit of hospitality that Scripture talks about. I am reminded of the church in Macedonia, a model of generosity in 2 Corinthians 8: 1-5, 7 (NIV).
“For I testify that they gave as much as they were able,and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us…. But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”
We are learning that only from a deep place of true worship, faith, and a relationship with the Father can genuine and sacrificial generosity flow. We are humbled with our Thai friends’ generosity and pray that our hearts continue to apply this in our lives, as we dig deep into our own relationship with Christ. The church members serve us by driving us everywhere, cooking meals three times a day for two weeks, showing us local natural landmarks, and accompanying us on house visits. They showed us what a church led by Christ looks like.
We now see that the Lord brought us to Isan first so would learn by seeing how generosity was modeled, so that we could extend this on our next outreach location. For the next four weeks (or so) the rest of our outreach is in Phang-Nga province, Southern Thailand; the municipality is about 30 minutes north of Phuket. We are five to seven kilometers from the beach, 1.6 kilometers from a landmark waterfall, a 10-15 minute walk from local eateries and a coffee shop, and 20-30 minute walk to a commercial area with groceries, convenience and hardware stores.
Our local contact, Atchan (“Pastor”) Jhum is a very warm and hospitable woman, who has been a huge contributor to the planting of three churches; she has been a pastor for ten years and has a five-year old daughter named Esther (like me!). On our second day in Phang-Nga she took us to visit the schools (10-minute walk from our living quarters) where we will teach English. One is a kindergarten day-care center, and the other a public school with students aged 7 to 12 as our focus.
Interestingly enough, behind her church is the YWAM Phang-Nga base! We met some of the staff at a nearby café and hopefully get to visit the base soon. The rest of the week has been making our lesson plan for the week. Teaching will comprise most of our outreach, with preaching and sharing testimonies during the Sunday Thai and Burmese services.
God has gifted us with this week to rest and strengthen our spirits. Pastor Jhum took us to the beach – an unexpected treat – so we dipped our feet into the sand and ocean and Florian and Christian dove off a pier into the deep water. Unfortunately the fairer-skinned members of the team got sunburned! On our day-off some of the team opted to revisit the waterfall, others opted for the beach, and the stayed back to read and write in their journals.
I am reminded that God cares for his workers, and gives us rest when we need it. Our Shepherd makes us rest in green pastures, leads us beside still waters, restores our our souls, all the while leading us in a relationship of righteousness (Psalm 23).