Recently we have been thinking about the Bema Seat; when our lives are over and we stand before God, what will remain? And we have been thinking about the One who is like fullers' soap, stripping us of everything and exposing our motives down to the root, and the refiner's fire, and all the gold that remains, pure and eternal.
As I prepare to return to Baltimore for the summer, I have been thinking about this past year, and all the gold and glory that remain. I look at Ryan, or Jar, or Jeab, or Aek, or Pastor Walsh and there is a hint of a smile, like we all share a big secret that no one else understands, because we've found a treasure hidden in a field, and this narrow little gate that leads to life.
Fruit that remains
Before Aek became a believer one year ago, he was a Buddhist monk with a license to preach. For two years as a monk, he tried to get rid of his sins through meditation. He is now one of our most fervent Bible College students who not only knows that he is forgiven, but has a great love for studying the Bible, soul winning, and helping us in any way he can, from preparing tracts for outreach to mopping the floor and arranging chairs before services.
Last Sunday morning, a very nervous Aek, wearing a crisp white shirt and one of Pastor Walsh's red ties, preached his first introduction. It was powerful and to the point, from Ephesians 1, about all the spiritual blessings we have in Christ.
Ryan, from Madras , India , met us three years ago while studying at Assumption University here in Bangkok . Soon after that, he decided to leave his university to attend our Bible College full time. In February, he married our faithful secretary and translator, Jar, and it is our great joy to watch their marriage as it is separated for a purpose. Ryan is also a full time team member and twice a month leads an outreach and Bible study in Mahachai, a fishing village two hours from Bangkok . God's hand on his life is evident as he leads and speaks in gentleness, conviction, and truth.
Jeab says her greatest prayer in her life has been to know God more, and that God answered that prayer when she met us three years ago. She is now a full time Bible College student and team member. Every so often, she tells me how she is still amazed, sitting in a Bible College class or a service; because she never dreamed there could be anywhere in the world where she could hear a message this clear or that she could know God this deeply.
Like most of our disciples, she is the only Christian in a Buddhist family. Recently, her father told her that she should start thinking about finding a good job and making a good life for herself like her brothers. "You mean like the man in the north of Thailand who won six million baht in the lottery, bought a new house, two new cars, and was killed along with his family in the flood this week?" Her father was speechless.
Milk recently graduated from Ramkhumheang University . She has endured persecution from her parents for her decision to stay in Bangkok and go to Bible College . But recently, she went home and was able to share with them. It was the first time her father listened without fighting. She told them, "Your money and honor will not last, one day you will stand before God, and he will not accept your merit or good works. You can buy a VIP ticket right now and be with me in heaven." When she finished, her parents were so stunned, they didn't know what to say.
A few weeks ago, Jeab and I walked with Milk through Seacon Square as Milk searched for a job. After each door, her face became a little more crestfallen until finally she said, "Everyplace I look, I would have to work on Sundays and the hours are so late I wouldn't be able to go to Bible School ." But later, eating papaya salad together she told us that she used to put so much confidence in herself, her bachelor's degree, her education, her parents, but now she can only have confidence in God.
A few highlights from the past few months
We are in a van on our way back from Mahachai. Belinda and I are singing worship songs so loudly and off key that the rest of the passengers must think we are crazy. But none of us care because we are so full of joy at the conversations we have had and the two people who have prayed with us to receive Christ. And because Aum, a new believer we met through our Christmas outreach, has come soul winning with us for the first time. He has said how amazing it is seeing God speak through us to those who have no hope and that this has been the most exciting night of his life.
We are soulwinning at Ramkhumheang University , I hand a tract to a young woman named Gift who says she has been interested in Christianity for a long time. Sunday she comes to church and prays to receive Christ after the service. She tells us that she used to stop and worship every idol she passed, but now she just feels she doesn't want to do that anymore.
I go to the gym and meet a young woman named Muay. She tells me she wants to have a foreigner friend so I say "Oh… well…I'll be your friend." I end up playing basketball with her until ten at night, make twenty new friends, and discover a new opportunity to reach Thai people.
I'm watching an Applied Bible Doctrine class with Jar and taking notes so she can translate them to the class later. It is an ABD recorded ten years ago and Pastor Stevens is preaching the same message I've heard ever since I can remember, one that cuts and makes alive. At night in Bible College , I watch Aek, Gift, and Milk take pages and pages of notes as Jar translates and I think here are Thais and Vietnamese, Indians, and an Australian, who have not chosen the easy way, but are being discipled in a message that could impact the world.
Thank you for your prayers, please continue to pray for:
• We have made many new contacts over the past few months, either people who are interested in learning more about Christ or those who have prayed to receive Christ, but follow up and discipleship is very difficult here. Please pray God would give us creative ideas to reach them