Every Sunday I go with the Church 300 van that takes a bunch of us to the house church a ways off from the Baptist Center near my home. The two you see in the picture, “Jack” and “Polite” (สุภาพ) always come along. When I first started visiting the church I didn’t really talk to them. But as time progressed, we have become closer friends.
“Polite” is actually Cambodian, but judging from her Thai you could never tell that. Because she grew up in Thailand for a majority of her life so her Thai is literally native though she can speak Cambodian too. Praise God that she’s been a Christian for about 10 years. Somehow it was through the Church 300/Baptist Center she came to know the Lord. Before that, Polite tells me she was pretty depressed in life and always trying to pick up Thai guys. Apparently the fascination came from watching too many Thai soap operas. She also told me that she would copy all the same things the Thai’s do. After all, Cambodians share the Buddhist religion of the Thai’s. So if there was the Loy Kratong (floating merit festival), then she would float a boat to make merit as well. But then now that she’s a Christian she doesn’t make merit anymore, or even practice that tradition anymore. Judging from the way “Polite” prays and knows her Bible, I’d say she’s pretty solid in her faith.
“Jack” is Northern Thai, and at first he came across very quiet. I’m not exactly certain the relationship between him and “Polite” are but they are always together. Also, they give free massages after church. While he doesn’t share much, an incident occurred recently that I think broke the ice. One day the church was out in Petchaburi to attend a wedding and I was sitting in a restaurant next to Jack and Polite. I had some small chit chat about the local food with Jack and asked how long he had been going to Church 300 – 1 year. Not being able to get much, I turned to Polite and changed the subject. “Have you read the book called ‘tears of my soul‘ written by a Christian Cambodian? It’s about the Cambodian war from 40 years back” I asked. Polite eyes opened wide. “No, but I know what happens in the book”. Then she went on to share about how she grew up during that era – hiding in the jungles, eating only grass and bark, missing relatives, abandonment, crazy stuff.
I then asked Jack about his childhood and surprisingly he had his own stories to share. He told me about how his mom passed away (or abandoned) early on his childhood, leaving his father, him, and his two older sisters. But his Father had to work long and dangerous hours as a soldier/forester so he rarely came home. Even though the youngest in the family, Jack grew up looking after his sisters on pretty much no income in the countryside. Polite was shocked to hear this as even she never heard this story. And further more she popped a bigger question to Jack: “You have come to this church for so long now. Why aren’t you a Christian yet Jack? Why haven’t you come to faith?” I was shocked myself at Polite’s directness. He replied timidly, “I’m not ready yet to leave Buddhism. I feel good already going to Church, so I don’t see why I can’t have it both ways. I’m not ready to take that next step yet”. I put my right hand on Jack’s shoulder. “Jack, I know that it’s especially difficult to put our faith in someone we cannot see or feel. I will be praying for that day you will be able to sense (สัมผัส) Jesus speak to you personally.”
From that day onwards, Jack has loosened up even more with me. Today after Wednesday church he came to ask where I was and I gave a light hug. Jack is smiling to share about how he feels better coming to church. I’m glad to see Jack bringing his Bible to church more often and using it to follow along sermons. Sometimes I think I need to have the most awesome Thai before I’d be able to make any impact on a Thai’s life. But this shows me empathy, the love of Christ, is equally as powerful. Please pray for Jack to come strong to Jesus and be a valuable soldier for Christ.