Our last day in Isaan…..

It is 6 o’clock in the morning. As the sun comes up I sit in front of our house in Yang Sisurat and enjoy a cup of coffee. This is our last morning in this house. Today we will load our stuff in a big truck and leave for Bangkok. I see the first people walk by on their way to the fields. Others walk by with their buffalos and cows. Every day is the same for the people in our small village of around 100 people. I see our neighbour washing clothes. She’s a 40 year old married woman who is an adulteress and has slept with almost every man in the village. Another neighbour walks by. He’s an alcoholic and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him not drunk. ‘Are you leaving today?’ He shouts as he walks by. The wife of the head of the village walks by as well. She smiles as she carries her bag with some food and beer. Her family has huge financial problems. Further down the road I hear loud voices as people fight over something. A small group of people sits patiently at the road side opposite our house. They do merit making every morning by giving food to the monks. With their good works they try to work their way up in to this life and a next life.

As I drink my coffee and observe people I realize that we’ve lived for four years with them. We’ve shared our lives with them, we’ve tried to help them, we’ve tried to be one of them. We’ve had many occasions where we told them about Jesus. Nobody, however, has come to faith. Yes, we’re really thankful for those in other villages who now know the Lord. We’re very thankful for the church that came into being in this unreached district. But somehow nobody in our village has believed. They’ve seen our lives and they have talked for hours among each other about these ‘strange foreigners’.

As life in the village continues I open my bible. This morning I read Romans 1: The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world Godʼs invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

What powerful words. God was already visible to the people in this village before we came. People could have known Him through nature. And He will continue to be visible even after today when we have left this village. But sitting there I’m asking myself a question: ‘Did we do enough to tell people here about Jesus. What could we have done different, or better, or more…? That thought alone is a bit weird anyway. Can we really make that much of a difference? Does God depend so much on us?

As I look around again I’m reminded of Ezekiel 33: “You, son of man, are the watchman. I’ve made you a watchman for Israel. The minute you hear a message from me, warn them. If I say to the wicked, ‘Wicked man, wicked woman, you’re on the fast track to death!’ and you don’t speak up and warn the wicked to change their ways, the wicked will die unwarned in their sins and I’ll hold you responsible for their bloodshed. But if you warn the wicked to change their ways and they don’t do it, they’ll die in their sins well-warned and at least you will have saved your own life.

How encouraging. We’ve warned the people. We’ve told them about Jesus being the Way, the Truth and the Life. We did what we had to do. We’re leaving this village and the responsibility is with the people now. They need to choose! The only thing we can still do is pray for them.

While I am praying someone opens the gate. Our househelp walks in with sticky rice and barbecued chicken. She’s bringing me breakfast. We will miss this lady a lot. She’s been a huge help in these past years. And she has shown interest in the gospel, saying she will come and join the church. Yesterday the elder of the church we planted gave her a children’s bible.

As I eat my breakfast I’m filled with thankfulness. I’m going to close my computer and load the truck. My heart is at peace.  The past years have been good. God is at work. He’s not done with the people of our village. Many seeds have been sown in people’s hearts and the small church that we’ve planted will continue to water them by their witness. And may God give the growth

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