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Lessons From The Field: Bangkok, Thailand

Before attending Mercy Hill Church, I thought that mission trips only involved groups of people heading to Haiti to build as many houses as they could in a short period of time. I never thought that it may involve being “sent out” to different corners of the world to share the good news of Jesus Christ. My team and I were fortunate enough to travel to the incredible city of Bangkok, Thailand.

Our mornings were spent doing prison ministry and our evenings were spent teaching English at the Baptist Student Center. My favorite day involved attending the women’s prison, where we bonded with inmates through ice-breaker games, shared personal testimonies and a message from the Bible, and prayed over the women. This was the structure we followed for our time there but at the boys’ juvenile detention center, I was responsible for sharing my own story.

I am not generally one to talk about myself–let alone what I was like before, during, and after dedicating my life to Jesus–so standing in front of 50+ boys, all of whom spoke Thai and were covered in tattoos, made me nervous. I heavily relied on God to keep me standing and mask the speed at which my hands were shaking in order to get through it. After I finished, I looked at the boys and was reminded that although I am a white girl from the United States, our lives are related because we all came from the same God.

Another incredible experience was visiting a refugee prison, where people were imprisoned because they outstayed their visas from Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The only time these individuals were allowed to leave their cells was when people like us went in as a group and called them out to talk with us by name. During this hour of reprieve, we got to hear their stories and pour the Gospel into their lives. Some of the people had fled their home countries for being Christians and were working from the inside to help those who felt discouraged and hopeless after being behind bars for going to drastic measures to flee their home countries. 

At night, we helped students practice their English by having simple conversations and explaining why we had traveled across the world to teach English. We had unforgettable conversations with many different people–some Christians, but many Buddhists as well.

Through this experience, I learned that the Lord’s plans are far greater than anything we can picture and we just have to continue chasing after Him to see how He wants to use us while we’re on this earth. If you told me five years ago I would head to Greensboro, New York City, and Bangkok to tell strangers that Jesus is the Way and the Truth, I would have laughed at you.

Additionally, Thailand needs your prayers. After experiencing everything first-hand, I have a newfound appreciation for the people of Thailand and the amazing full-time missionaries. I long for the chance to go back, but until then, I will talk about it as much as possible, so people see the global need for Jesus. My biggest takeaway from this summer was learning how to be bold with strangers across the world so that I might be even bolder with family and friends. 

— Olivia Young (City Project Student)

Stories from the Field: Mikel

(Names have been changed to protect identities)

After walking in the heat of the Southeast Asian sun, listening to the echoing adhan from the mosque calling the people of the city to prayer, we sat down in a local mamak for a refreshing lime drink along with some roti canai – a flat bread filled with sweetened condensed milk.

 

I sat across the table from Mikel – a young man with a radiant smile across his face – and I asked him to tell me his story. He began by talking of his father. As a boy, his admiration for his dad was unsurpassed. Mikel tried to imitate his dad in every way. He wanted to sit like his dad, eat like his dad, and talk like his dad. Mikel’s greatest ambition was to be like his dad.

Mikel had not seen his father for several months because he had moved to another country to further his education. Mikel had also come under the influence of his aunt, Amme. She too had left their home country but for different reasons. Both the authorities and their family had threatened Amme’s life when she converted from Islam to Christianity. Amme shared her faith with Mikel and it drove him to begin reading Scripture for himself. Mikel learned that Amme’s pastor in their home country had been captured and tortured, yet the only words he would speak before his persecutors were: “Father, forgive them.” Those words were staggering, but not original. They had been uttered by Jesus on the cross as well as Stephen at his death in Acts 7. Such forgiveness and love convinced Mikel that Jesus is the one true God.

But what would Mikel’s father think of him now? It took months for Mikel to have the courage to tell his father he is now a Christian. When he did, his father said, “If you have decided to be a Christian, then you are no longer my son.” Mikel was rejected by the man he had admired his entire life.

As we finish the last few pieces of roti canai, Mikel’s countenance becomes solemn. He shares that in a few weeks he must return to his home country. He is certain he will face ridicule and persecution, but uncertain to what degree. Nevertheless he is committed to share with his fellow countrymen the good news of Jesus’ love and forgiveness.

A few days later as our team gathered with believers from multiple nations, we sang the following words:

     I have decided to follow Jesus
     No turning back
     No turning back

     The cross before me
     The world behind me
     No turning back
     No turning back

For Mikel, there is a certain cross before him. With a sound mind, he has said ‘no’ to comforts and securities of this world in order to follow Jesus. Why? Because Mikel’s testimony is echoed in the following words of the song:

     Christ is enough for me
     Christ is enough for me
     Everything I need is in You
     Everything I need[1]

7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— Philippians 3:7-9 (ESV)

Bryan Miller (Connections/Missions Director)

 

[1] Christ is Enough by Hillsong Worship