In past blogs I've tried to convey some of the challenges of our work here in urban slum communities, but there are also many joys amidst those challenges. Here I want to share two joys that we experienced last week.
Last Thursday at our cell group in our local community I had the joy of sharing the Gospel in Thai with a man who has been coming to our group for a few weeks. Not only has he been coming, but he has allowed us to meet in the shade of his front yard since the weather has been too hot to meet in Jemuay's home! He had been to a church in the past, and as we chatted about God's love it became clear that he was now praying to God instead of to Buddha for such things as happiness, a good night's sleep, and the provision of enough to live on, and he knew that Jesus died to save us, but he didn't know why we needed saving and from what. So it was a great joy to be able to share this with him. Bateung can be seen standing in the middle back of the photo below of our cell group in front of his home.
The other joy was visiting a 9 day old baby in the other community that we work in. On our first visit to this community we met Som, a girl in her early 20s, and started teaching her English every week along with a couple of other students. We have only seen her sporadically since then, including a few weeks ago when I noticed she was pregnant. We were excited to hear last week from her mother-in-law, who attends our cell group, that Som had just had a baby boy, so went to visit on Saturday. Here is a photo of Som, her baby, her mother-in-law (Mae Lek) and a nephew and niece. They're sitting in a house that Som's husband has started to build for them next to Mae Lek's house. The floor and roof are done, but he had to put make-shift walls of tin on two sides for now. When compared to all the paraphernalia that we had to have when we had babies, they have next to nothing, but it certainly hasn't affected the amount of joy that a new born baby brings to a family!
05 May 2010
Whenever I go to either of our 2 slum communities I am greeted by several smiling little Thai faces calling out "kru fil ma laew ... khii lang, khii lang". Basically, what they are saying is "teacher Phil is here, can we ride on your back". Generally, these kids have no fathers, they live with their grandmothers or another relative and yearn for male attention and rough play. The only attention they normally get from adults is an aggressive hit over the head. So I respond to their plea by giving them a ride on my back. I pay for it the next day - most of the time with a sore and stiff back. I've come a long way from someone who (at times) couldn't walk because of my injured back, as a teenager I was told I needed an operation with at least 1 year's convalescence.
Check out the video below of a happy little 8 year old (called Jet) taken a year ago riding on my back. If the video doesn't load you can view it on my Youtube channel.
As we conclude our first term of service in Thailand it occurs to me that this is what we have been doing - we have been riding on our Father God's back. It is only Him who has kept us faithful during opposition. During this time He has established a ministry here in the urban slum communities. He has planted 2 cell churches to be a strong and faithful witness in these 2 communities. We have also seen people make commitments to follow Him as their Lord and Saviour. Let's not be under any illusion here - it was God alone who was preparing to do a work in Samut Prakan 3 years ago. We've just come here and have ridden on His back. Zechariah 4:6 confirms this when it says " .... not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord Almighty".
The video below shows a prayer time at the end of our cell church meeting in one of these slums. In this particular slum we started a small cell group (when we started a kids ministry) around 2 years ago with the only believer in this community. It is a huge blessing to see what God is doing as He "adds to the number those who are being saved" (Acts 2:47) and has raised up solid Thai leadership ..... no need for me to teach here anymore and we can feel thankful and 'blessed out of our boots' as we go on Home Assignment next month. Watch and enjoy what God has done :-)
Yes, riding on God's Back is the best thing we can do. What are you going to do in your life? I plead with you to choose to ride on God's Back - it is worth it, you get to see things from a HIGHER perspective, you get protected by the strongest back in the universe, you get to have fun !! However, it is a bumpy ride sometimes but I can testify it is worth it and I wouldn't exchange riding on His Back for anything else in this world !!! :-)