Tonight's update crafted with love, by Zach.
We as a group flew into Udon Thani yesterday afternoon and have spent the last day and a half with a Swiss couple who have been missionaries in this region for six years. Today we spent the afternoon teaching English to a group of nurses, doctors, and other medical staff at the local hospital. They seemed grateful for the chance to learn from native English speakers and it opened a door for the missionaries to share the gospel and a Christian Thai man to share his testimony. It was another great day and I am continuously learning so much from all of God’s servants that we have met.
This trip has exposed us to so many new ideas, ways of thinking, and different cultures. But it has also revealed so many new problems and hopeless situations. As we journey further into our short trip the hopelessness begins to pile up. It begins to bog you down and things start looking very bleak. There is a knowledge that God is good, that His plans are perfect, but sometimes it can just seem like a nice idea. Somewhere deep down there is a belief that God will bring light into this darkness but it is hard to see how that is possible. We lose sight of our perfect Saviour with all the brokenness that can be seen between his perfection and our earthly reality. How can hope remain when you walk through an airport and see countless women with the men that have just bought them? Where is the hope when you walk down a sidewalk with the knowledge that the affection of hand holding has been paid for? How can God be good when his faithful servants are now refugees in land where they have to remain hidden? The desperate plea that fills a room of helpless refugees does not sit easy when you know you cannot provide the help they need. One of the missionary couples that we have gotten to know has been trying to adopt an orphaned Burmese baby for months now. Last Wednesday as they dropped him off at the orphanage they were met with the confident opinion of a social worker that they would never see that baby again. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for hope in your heart. Yet as I pray, as I talk to God, as I experience his work and his faithful servants I cannot help but be reminded that God is good. God will always be good and we will always have a confident unshakable hope in him, sometimes you just have to look a bit harder to see it.
In the midst of all this brokenness, all of this hopelessness I see people who have devoted their lives to fighting it, people who use every single step to push the light of God into the world. The kind of people who when they wake up and their feet hit the floor, the devil begins to tremble. Michael, who was born in Norway but raised in Thailand and now runs his own mission organization within Thailand, is one of those people. When Michael was telling us about his different ministries he started off by talking about his ministry where he gives children in rural Thailand a dormitory to live in so that they can get an education. Then he went on to talk about a scholarship program that he has set up for kids at an orphanage that come from rural Thailand where their parents often can’t support them. Then he talked about ministering to the businessman he had somehow gotten to fund the Christian scholarships. Then he talked about the English classes that he runs twice a week that allow him to share to gospel with numerous Thai people. Then he talked about the Bible study that he runs every week where he disciples Thai believers. Then he talked about his outreach to several different refugee camps that he provides aid to in any way he can. Then he talked about the teaching that he does at one of the most prestigious military schools in Thailand, where He teaches English and shares the gospel. Then he talked about the work he does at the prison for all the refugees and illegal immigrants. Then in all of his free time he uses disaster relief as a chance to spread the love of Jesus and if that’s not enough he is also an amazing husband and father. After each one I was expecting him to stop but he just kept going and going. How a person can fit all of these things into a week I have no idea, but I know that he does and that every single moment of his day is spent bringing light into the darkness, bringing hope into hopeless situations.
Michael is just one of the many examples of all the people that remind me of God’s hope, of his goodness. A reminder that the darkness is just a speck in a sea of God’s light. God’s goodness will always be in the midst of the brokenness, that is often where it can be seen the strongest. The darkness will never swallow us because God’s goodness will always be right there with it. That’s what keeps us coming back, the goodness we know that can be found in the Lord. As Wayne reminded our group last night that’s what tethers us, that is what keeps us from wandering, God's goodness. That’s why we do this because even when all else seems hopeless God shows us his goodness, he still gives hope and we want other people to experience the goodness we have found in him.