This is an exciting adventure for me, but a scary one, too. I want to put down in prose, as opposed to outline form, spiritual truths I was working to instill in a small group of Christian ladies here in Tha Chatchai back in 2010.
Animistic Buddhism is the cultural religion here. I say “cultural religion” because not everyone is highly involved with it. Kind of like the “Christmas and Easter Christians” that exist in the States. But Buddhism and Animism are at the core of the Thai culture, hence the saying, “To be Thai is to be Buddhist.” So, if a Thai becomes a true, born-again, regenerated Christian, is he still Thai? Wow! That’s tough stuff to consider and Christ told us in Luke 14:25-33 to count the cost.
I guess living in another culture full-time for several years has changed my worldview, the paradigm in which I function daily. I have had to question every difference between my native culture, that of being born and raised in Southern California, and the culture of Tha Chatchai. We’re unique here. Before the Tsunami (yes, I capitalize it) of 2004, this was mainly a fishing village that also housed the provincial checkpoint police department. When we arrived in February of 2008, most of the housing had been rebuilt. We had a couple of little rice/noodle shops in the neighborhood. We also had several little mini-marts, pretty much housed in larger living rooms, scattered throughout the village. Many families were still fishing families. Things are changing. Tha Chatchai now has several guest houses, several restaurants, a walking park, a whole-village sound system so the village headman can make overhead announcements akin to those we heard from the principals in the States. Some residents work at the rebuilt resorts several kilometers south of us, and some work at the international airport about 20 minutes south of us. Every month, maybe every week, someone here gets a new truck, a new motorcycle, air conditioning, satellite TV. They’ve recovered past survival mode and are now able to afford luxuries.
The culture in this neighborhood is changing, and I desire to see the culture of the Christians change to being more Jesus-like rather than more materialistic. There are many things in this culture to be celebrated, whether a person is Buddhist or Christian or Muslim (we have a few Muslims in our neighborhood too) or doesn’t even subscribe to any religion. Basically this is a very social culture, very people and relationship oriented. This is very good! But we, as Christians in this community, need to move beyond that. I came up with the idea of Kingdom Culture and Googled it – some of the stuff is pretty weird, so I hesitate to use that term, but can’t come up with anything better. The basic thing is we need to know what the Bible says and, with the power of the Holy Spirit, live it out. This will involve comparing our culture against the Scripture and throwing out what doesn’t align with the Word of God. It means adding things into our lives that are in the Bible but not in our native culture. It means realizing that some things just don’t matter that much, if at all, and just not worrying about those things. Personally, I find that last category the most difficult.
I was thinking, where do I begin with all of this? What can we learn that won’t cause too many waves, yet get us thinking and choosing to be more like Jesus? This is a culture where you just do NOT rock the boat. So, why not begin with the Fruit of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22, 23?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (ESV)
So, I began going through these things. What is the definition? What does it look like in Scripture? How can I implement it in my own life?
Then, I proceeded to the Armor of God, which is found in Ephesians 6:11-18.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints . . . (ESV)
I was heading into Knowing God, learning about His attributes and considering how we could emulate them. Of course, I realize we are NOT sovereign, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, etc. But you get the idea. But, God provided 380 children to teach English to throughout the course of each week. I had the option of dropping in bits and pieces of the Gospel as I went, and love those kids, and their teachers, unconditionally. At one of the two schools I was teaching at, 97 out of 122 children came to know Christ during an outreach. I had been able to lay the foundation during the previous three years and a crusade was able to come in and, during a one hour presentation, reap the harvest. One of the best days in my life, and the best day I’ve had here in Thailand! That has ended, and I now have about 45 children I teach each week at the local school right over our back wall. I have more time to continue to translate my outlines into paragraphs.
The next idea was to go into Spiritual Gifts. I figured that, once you were understanding and functioning in these things, you would intuitively know which ways to serve are more “natural” to you. This would be a way to see where you could focus your energy in service. As an example, I find teaching, although a lot of work, actually energizes me. It’s one of my predominant spiritual giftings. I have found that administration, organizing groups of people, is quite draining and not one of my giftings. I know how to do it and can do it, but it’s exhausting! It is far better for me to teach than to administrate.
I have no idea where I’d go next. But this blog is a way for me to document what I have taught and where I was headed next, in a prose format. I’m excited to be on this journey. My goal is to post twice a week, my Tuesdays and my Fridays, starting January 2, 2015. I hope you’ll stick with me a while, pray for me, help me with comments and ideas.
The Sword Project Open Source Bible Software [Software]. (2007). Bangkok: Thailand Bible Society.