‘Three children?!!? Why did you have so many?’ a Thai school teacher once said that to me with a disgusted look in her eyes. Sometimes my husband and I feel that the Thais, for whatever reasons, are afraid of having more than one child. I haven’t yet met a new generation family, who has more than two children. The Thais, however, love babies. When our littlest one- Joanna- was born, we would take her to malls and other public places and if you’re in a hurry, it can get really bad because everyone wants to pinch her cheek or talk to her or ask you how old she was or her gender and etc.
This July 29th, Joanna turned 2, and since we had moved to a new neighbourhood not very long ago, we thought that it would be a good opportunity to invite neighbours for a drink and get to know them better. So we had this little party, where we invited a few neighbours and friends. During the party, my husband shared from Psalm 127 verse 3, where it says that children are OUR heritage and reward from the Lord.
He shared about how grateful we were that God gave us three daughters.
The next evening, during our prayer meeting, one of our Thai friends mentioned about the previous day’s sharing and said that Thais did not want to celebrate birthdays in the past because it was a day when mothers felt very great pain bringing a child into the world, and to celebrate that did not seem right to them. But in the light of the Bible passage that was read, our Thai friend said he now felt that it was really very appropriate to celebrate birthdays. Hearing him say this made me feel very happy inside. I’ve heard people say that children don’t get a lot of attention and toleration in social gatherings, especially in villages. In our own fellowships too, children were served food only after all the adults were served. After a while, I made sure that they were served first, so that even when the food was not enough, the children at least would have been served.
I think “Jesus loves the little children” is a wonderful message we can pass on to the Thais. Babies are loved around the world but once they have crossed the ‘toddler’ stage, children are often neglected in many cultures, the Thai culture being one (although the degree may vary from region to region or family to family). Our positions as missionaries give us a good opportunity to show them that we love their children as much as we love them, and that God loves the souls of their children as much as He loves theirs. The next time someone says to me ‘Three children? Why?’ I’d probably say- ‘Because God chose to give them to us because he loves us so much.