Stories from Bangkok
Stories from Bangkok
By Jasey Christensen
“How was your trip?” The eight members of the Thailand team have been asked this question many times since touching down at the Omaha O'Hare Airport. The team members are still asking themselves that question. “Good” seemed too simplified, “Amazing” doesn’t exactly ring true. Was there one word that we can use to tell acquaintances in passing how the last three weeks impacted us physically, mentally, and spiritually? We laughed, we cried, we prayed through physical illness and mental hardships, and some days it seemed Satan was throwing every kind of ammo in his artillery at us. How do we describe that the spiritual warfare was real and , but our God was faithful to come alongside us through everything!
Just like the loving Father He is, God was always faithful to encourage and lift us up. Through the relationships we formed and friendships that were built, we could see God’s hand in every conversation and interaction. Although the country is 93.6% Buddhist, 4.9% Muslim, and only 1.2% Christian, it was made clear that God is on the move in Thailand.
In 2nd Corinthians 4:5-6 Paul writes: “For what we proclaim is not ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord , with ourselves as your servants for Jesus sake, for God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Throughout our days, we asked each other one thing: How are we lights in the darkness?
Not my lunch table
The ministry we worked with in Thailand is called Envision Ministries Bangkok. Their goal is simply to push people closer to Jesus. Whether that’s someone who has a relationship with Jesus or someone who has never heard the Gospel, the mission is the same. We were constantly looking for opportunities to have intentional conversations with the Thais we met and bring them into the Envision community.
A cool story of how many of those relationships came to be stemmed from just one interaction on our third day in Bangkok. Before grabbing our lunch that day and rushing off, one of our team leaders, Jourdan, challenged us to go and sit by someone we didn’t know. Three of the introverts on the team, Trevor, Rachel, and Jasey all exchanged anxious glances. Talking to strangers can be an introverts worst nightmare. The three of them decided to stick together. After they got their food, they wandered around the food court awkwardly for what seemed like an eternity. They passed table after table hesitant to disturb anyone’s meal. Eventually, they saw one boy sitting by himself at a six-person table. Trevor approached him and asked if they could sit there. The boy said yes and quickly scrambled to get up. They told him he could stay and sit with them, but he was gone before they could protest further. Discouraged, they set down their food trays and started eating. But God works in awesome ways.
A couple of minutes after the Thai boy hurried away he did what no one expected… he came back and asked them if he could sit with down with them! Rachel, Trevor, and Jasey were all a little shocked but excitedly said yes. He told them he wanted to push himself and find people to practice his English with because he wants to work in America one day. Oh, how the Lord provides! It was incredible that the three most introverted people on the team would be the ones thrown into this kind of conversation. It was almost like God said, “You don’t think you’ll be able to find someone? Here I’ll drop this boy in your lap.”
This boy ended up coming around to a lot of the events we were apart of, and he even began bringing his friends too! By the end of our trip, the Thai boy expressed his interest in becoming a Christian as well! He saw how intentional each of the team members were and that we genuinely cared about people and he was interested in what made us that way. Praise God!
It was such a blessing to see the many divine appointments God was orchestrating throughout our time in Bangkok. We spent hours praying leading up to the trip for God to go before us and pave the way, and he did!
One of the ways we saw this played out was through a friendly theological debate Jourdan got into with a student museum worker. One day Rachel, Jasey, and Jourdan met two Thai students for lunch, one of which worked in a museum on the Chulalongkorn University campus. He offered to take them on a tour after their lunch. While at the museum they met one of the other museum workers whose English was really great. Surprisingly, he was very open about his beliefs and talking about God. This worker was a philosophy major and was a former Christian turned atheist. Jourdan and he engaged in a friendly theological debate and Jourdan were able to effectively share her beliefs and listen to his as well. By the end of the 45-minute conversation, you could see him thinking about what exactly it was he was searching for. He began questioning his purpose in life and if he would be able to achieve happiness and success on his own. We are not sure if we'll ever be able to see the fruits of that conversation, but we are confident that seeds were planted and that the Lord will continue to grow those.
While it seems like almost everyone in our American western world has heard about Christianity and the name of Jesus, it’s a very real thing that people in Thailand and throughout Asia have NEVER heard the good news of the Gospel. Even in the modernized city of Bangkok, we met students who had never heard the name of Jesus.
An example of this is with one of the very first friends we made. We met her on our first full day in Bangkok, and she kept hanging out with us throughout the trip (even though she told us her friends thought she was crazy for doing so haha). One day she sat down with Kenna and noticed a bookmark Kenna kept in her journal. On the bookmark was written Galatians 5:1, Kenna’s favorite bible verse. The Thai girl asked Kenna what was written on it and when Kenna explained that it was a verse from the Bible the Thai girl quickly responded, “What is the Bible?”. Kenna took the opportunity to open her Bible and show this girl her favorite Bible verse, share the good news of Jesus, and even give this girl her bookmark! Because of Kenna’s faithfulness to share, one more person in Bangkok knows the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.
These were just a few stories of the amazing conversations we were able to have during our time in Thailand. As dark as Bangkok felt at times, the Holy Spirit worked through our team, and our confidence is in Christ. We pray the light our team brought to the city was God-honoring and we pray for the Envision team who now has the joyful burden of continuing those relationships and conversations. God is the ultimate King and the mover of hearts. We rest knowing that He is sovereign over all the challenges we faced and relationships we built. Praise be to God for all His glorious works!