Outreach Week 4
“From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly…” (Psalm 22:25)
I am always moved at how praise and worship flows effortlessly from the lips and hearts of our Thai and Burmese brethren in the Lord. Whether it’s at the Dongsawan Church in Isan, or the Burmese Bible study groups in Phang Nga, there is almost no distinction between the singing and talking – it’s all expressions and outpouring of hearts to God.
This challenges me to examine my own heart and how I view my worship. Is my worship something that I turn on and off, or something that is constant and flowing - where there is no need to create a “good feeling” with music or ambiance? One challenge we have is participating in the singing when we don’t know the Thai or Burmese lyrics. So we clap our hands if happy major chords are being played. We bow our heads when the music evokes deep praise. Maybe some lines are about suffering and endurance, so we touch our hearts. I have ended up closing my eyes, humming along, or inventing my own lyrics to go with the melody so I can worship God in spirit and in truth.
The team has enjoyed our house visits to pray for and encourage members of “God’s House Methodist Church” (our partner here) who may be sick, busy, or haven’t had the opportunity to fellowship with church family in some time. We visited an elderly Burmese couple – Grandfather Ulei and Grandmother Chimei. They haven’t attended the services for some time because Grandfather Ulei’s swollen legs (due to diabetes) bother him. We encouraged them with the truth of God’s presence – constant and abiding in his people, whether at home or at church. We also prayed for healing and protection from the enemy’s discouragement in their walk with God.
We are also becoming friends with P’Sim, this brave and courageous lady who first heard God’s voice telling her to “RELAX!” Like Samuel she didn’t know it was God then. When she finally believed in Phra Iesu, she gave up alcoholism and other vices almost overnight. God’s voice became so clear and constant…I think she and Loren Cunningham would have many stories to trade. “I will take care of you! I will provide for you. Share the good news with your neighbors. I am sending you.” She responded with obedience and has seen the change in her own life. She used to be timid and fearful but now she is fearless in telling her neighbors about Phra Iesu. On our house visit days, she loves to take us into homes where the gospel needs to be shared and where healing prayers are needed. She is one of my heroines now!
I am so thankful at all the learning experiences we are having. We also get to teach though! On our first week of teaching English, we went in pairs; each pair teaches 4 classes every week. We are excited to teach for almost three more weeks, and also spend an hour weekly at a kindergarten/daycare center.
For evangelism we love taking daily to strike up informal conversations. We have visited home-based shops and stores, fruit stands, community centers, cafes and eateries. The people and the reception reminds me of our barangays in the Philippines – warm, open, and unhurried. We have also loved hiking to Watkhao Waterfall, which is 20 minutes away. After lunch by the falls we sang songs of praise and worship, proclaiming God’s name in a symbolic act of the physical waters spreading the true Rivers of Living Water across the land.
For some of our meals we love the noodles at our favorite noodle shop, owned by Teow and Min, members of the Thai congregation. You can have your option of noodles with pork, beef, or vegetarian. The eatery is situated strategically along the highway and across Tesco Lotus (one of the big grocery chains in Thailand) and on the wall is a proud announcement that they follow Jesus: a simple wooden cross. We prayed that God would bless their business, honor their integrity, and allow them opportunities to share the gospel as the store-owners.
On Sundays we visit the YWAM Phang Nga Base which is behind the church. We met the Salem, Oregon team and just like most YWAM DTS meetings, you always have one or more common friends. I even met a Korean DTSer also named Esther! We just celebrated the Chinese Lunar New Year and some of the team bought firecrackers to get into the spirit of celebration. To all my Chinese friends, God bless your coming year!