Sometimes people go to the mission field because of the love for the people in that country. Nothing wrong with of course, but if it would have been my only motivation to come to Thailand I wouldn’t have lasted long. Some people have this picture in mind of cute, Asian, poor people who are sitting around and waiting for the white man to come to teach them about Jesus. They think that the people in the country they’ll be serving are respecting the white man and is family and in every way impressed by the foreigner. Well…if this is our view and thinking we should probably change it! Don’t get me wrong! I love the Thai people, but some days things happen that make it harder to love somebody.
One example is language. If you’ve just come to the country people will praise you for every single word you can say. ‘Your Thai is so good’ is a very common saying you’ll hear. But after a while this starts to change. People realize how bad your language still is and the longer you study the less progress you make. A couple of weeks a go I was preparing an outreach with a Thai national worker who told me: ‘Please talk as less as possible during the outreach, because people don’t understand a word you’re saying!’ Wow! Thank you! That’s really encouraging.
Or the people we teach in one of the villages. I’d been teaching there for a year when we went on Home Assignment. I took a colleague of us to the village, because he would take over some of the teaching during our absence. He had a short chat with the ladies and then the ladies looked at me and said: ‘Your Thai is horrible, your wife’s Thai is good, but this missionary that has come today speaks the language fantastic!’ Wow! Thank you! That’s really encouraging. Or the same women who told me: ‘Always take your wife to the Bible Study, because if we worship the Lord together and she isn’t here we have a problem. You clearly can’t sing, so we need her!’ Yeah…Amen, right?!
There are also other ways in which the Thai people challenge me a bit. Take the hairdresser as an example. Everybody pays 30 THB for a haircut and I pay 60 THB. Or a small shop in our village that gives me ‘a special price’ for the eggs. Kids that come and play at our house and steal toys from the boys. People in the market asking ridiculous prices for some stuff, because I’m white and (they think) for me it’s cheap anyway. Even the way people behave in traffic can be really annoying to me. I could continue this list, but I think it’s clear what I’m trying to say. It isn’t always easy to love them. You just need to try to put them beside you and continue with what you’re doing.
Thankfully we didn’t come to Thailand just because out of love for the people. No, we came to Thailand because of the glory of God. Millions and millions of people in Isaan haven’t heard the Good News that Jesus Christ came to this earth to save us from sin and death! They worship images of wood and stone instead of the Maker from it. They don’t worship the true and only God! That’s my passion! The Good News has to be shared whether it’s easy or not. I agree…my language isn’t perfect, I would never win a singing contest and some people do rip me off. But thankfully we have God’s Word where we read: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. With that powerful knowledge I have no problem for being a off-key singing stuttering fool. Because only when I’m weak Christ’s power may rest on me! Only when I feel like that God can use me in the best way possible!