To give or not to give

‘Look who’s there’ our daughter shouts out. Grandfather Ohd and grandmother Dam have come and as always they also brought a snack for the kids. This time some sticky rice and sausages. For the kids it is always fun when there are visitors.

In Thailand it is normal to bring some food if you drop by somewhere. Usually this is something from a tree in someone’s own garden or rice field. It’s a way of building relationships, showing appreciation and also showing interdependence on each other: we need each other as neighbours, family and as brothers and sisters in Christ. So it is a nice tradition.

Sometimes though, the gifts are disproportional. Like that time other people came by with teddy bears for the children and lots of fruit. There was some small talk but the cat came out of the bag pretty soon: they needed a lot of money to finish building their house.

When you refuse the relationship probably gets damaged. But in a way it is damaged already by the request for a large sum of money, because there is no way of refusing politely without being a little bit up-front. Giving also disturbs the relationship, because the dynamics change: dependence is created and it might even cause the relationship to break.

We find situations like these difficult, especially when Christians make a request like this. We are here to be a blessings for others. But we cannot meet all expectations or requests. Sometimes we need to make difficult decisions. It might mean losing a contact we ‘invested’ a lot of time in to build a relationship.  Pray for missionaries for wisdom in fostering relationships in a healthy way, both practically and spiritually.

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