We cycled along the shore of a large lake. One afternoon we had to do without lunch because nobody invited us. We rested on a grassy slope with a wonderful view of the lake. After that we had to go on. The terrain was rather hilly. Especially for the Asians who were with us, who did not have that much cycling experience, it was hard. But so much more the joy when we reached a village where we were offered a place to stay.
We walked through the village and invited people to come to the village hall. The village hall is a simple, half-open structure in which all village meetings take place. Remarkably for Thailand, where women play a prominent part and where mothers get much more respect than fathers, it is the men who speak in the village meetings, while the women stand and watch from a distance. In one village about forty people came after our invitation, in another one about sixty. For our meeting also many stand at a distance (and therefore are not in the picture above). We started with a big attraction: foreigners singing Isaan songs. Though almost all Isaan are Buddhist, they always are happy to join in singing Christian songs. Isaan music is not fit for short worship songs, so with the songs they already get a lot of the message of the Gospel. After that we tell why we came. We told the story of creation and the fall, using posters. We explained how we fall short of God’s standards and about the importance of prayer through a magic trick (which works great to keep attention). We told about the life of Jesus from a booklet that we handed out and asked people to read with us. We told about the forgiveness of sins. The Isaan man who was with us told us how Christ had changed his life.
We poured out a lot of information in a short time. It would not be difficult to now let people raise their hands if they want to follow Jesus. However, we know this method mainly helps the evangelist to feel good about himself, but that it hardly ever means anything to the people who do it. So we don’t. In a place where there is no foundation whatsoever for the Gospel, people need time to really grasp the Gospel and respond to it. In one of the villages a man comes to talk to one of our team members, Sijmen. His obvious goal is to teach us about Buddhism. Sijmen is asking him many questions. In the end, the man becomes quiet. And then he starts to ask questions himself. When he finally leaves, he says: “Thank you that you came to tell about Jesus. I really should know a lot more about Him.” If that desire has been kindled, our trip has been worthwhile.