I like to joke and say that an angel fell from the sky telling me to go to Thailand, but oddly the truth is not far from that. God uses natural and supernatural means to reveal his will to us. Both were in my case, to which I would like to share four reasons I was called there.
1- Praying for the Nations
Thailand was actually not on my mind until the very end of the discernment process. I was actually considering Indonesia first. As I began praying for each nation, asking the Lord – where do you want me to go? He made it clear for each request “no” until Thailand was near the bottom of my list. He made it clear that Mexico, Latin America, Africa, Nepal, China, Tibet, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, Central Asia, were all clear “no’s” with each a unique story. So as I prayed for the nations, God narrowed the choice down to just one.
One story stands out above the rest. I was participating in a Fundraiser for Ratanak, an anti-trafficking organization for Cambodia. The president, Brian McConaghy happened to be visiting from Vancouver. I’ve been told he never shows up to these fundraisers, but this time he did. So when I saw him sitting on a park bench I introduced myself and told him I was thinking about serving in Cambodia.
“The Alliance has done wonderful work in Cambodia, and I keep up with what their team is doing” he replied. “But do you know that the Alliance (US) is thinking about transitioning out of Cambodia in the future? The Cambodian church is doing extremely well”. This I believe was the Lord’s sign for me not to go to Cambodia. Little did I know that the Alliance had just sent 4 new missionaries to Cambodia that year.
2 – God was already working Thailand into the hearts of the church
Our Alliance missionaries Derek and Bonnie, just so happened to be on home assignment preaching on Thailand when I was making a decision for full-time missions. Little did I know they had also preached at my home church for the first time in over 10 years! God had put it on their hearts to pray for an opening. Then one day, they ‘randomly’ drove right next to my pastor in a parking lot. “Are you the Pastor of Rouge Valley Church? Can we preach at your church on a Sunday?” The rest is history.
Within my church, the elders unanimously agreed to support me as a missionary. Also, other churches that Derek and Bonnie had planted seeds in were suddenly asking for me to speak about Thailand. Then most importantly the missions Board of directors (I heard unanimously) approved of my application to Thailand! To send a single male missionary is unheard of in the Alliance, let alone a place as dark as Thailand!
3 – There was an opportunity to serve in Thailand
I am of the consensus that everyone in leadership needs to be on-board with your calling if you want to serve on the mission field. So I had applied to Thailand as an act of faith, not knowing the situation on the ground, and whether my calling would be understood. I asked if there was an opening in the compassion team in Phuket. After all, I was already doing similar work downtown. But the missions board said to consider church planting with least reached people groups in Thailand instead. They pointed out my seminary degree, church experience, ordination, and pastoral giftings would complement the current team dynamics. The answer surprised me because it was not the answer I expected. After doing a vision trip to Thailand and meeting all the missionaries, there were no more doubts in my mind. God had a better plan, and now I see how it all lined up.
4 – God was saying YES to Thailand
As I count my blessings, I realize how many times God was sending clear signals of yes to Thailand. The food, culture, challenges, visions, doors opened, doors closed, needs, demands…. everything up to this point has been preparing me to serve in that nation for his glory. It was clear in my spirit that I had nothing to lose by going and everything to gain by going there.
Just one example to drive the point. My family grew up eating only one type of rice brand – the “ox-head” brand. Perhaps because all the Chinese families I knew argued this was the highest quality rice to buy in Canada. I loved ox-head rice, a jasmine white rice and nothing to date ever compares with it. Little did I know I grew up eating and loving rice that was from Thailand!
Trust in the Lord and lean not in your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6