Mae Wat visits Wongduan every week. She asks her how she is doing, she reads from the Bible, and she prays for her. Mae Wat is a church member who is involved in the visitation work of the church. You could translate her position as ‘care sister’. All members who show in their lives that they are faithfully following the Lord, and who can give some of their time for ministry, have been asked to become ‘care sister’ or ‘care brother’. Wongduan is a member of the church, but the care for a grandchild and the pressure from her Buddhist surroundings make that she is less faithful in attending church than we would like to see. Mae Wat’s weekly visits are an important help to keep her faith alive.
Since a few months each member of our church is visited weekly. If that is not possible, they get a telephone call. Many of our members are the only believers in a family, sometimes even in a village. One woman lives over twenty kilometers from the church. She lives in the largest village of the district. Together with her two small children is she the only Christian there. She does not always manage to travel the twenty kilomters to church on her motorbike, accompanied by two children. Therefore the visits and phone calls are an important lifeline to her. She has become part of God’s family, and she badly needs her brothers and sisters. But the visits are not just good for the ones who receive them. The ones doing the visitation are growing spiritually through this new responsibility.
This model of mutual care is one reason why my wife and I are not indispensable as missionaries. Now that we see that the church can stand on its own, we are leaving for another place. Missionaries are like scaffolding. When the building stands, the scaffolding needs to come down.