July 22, 2015 - Thailand
It has already been about 3 weeks since we’ve arrived at our site. Daniel, Matt, and I have been placed at Phra-praedeng, a slum community for leprosy patients. The community has been generous with their love in welcoming us to Phra-praedaeng, but the presence of poverty is still strong here. Most of the buildings are built over swamps and open sewage. Stray dogs and cats roam the streets. Broken families, alcohol and drug abuse, as well as gambling are strongholds in this community. Most of the elderly live without family; many have been living in the hospital ward for over ten years. Despite the brokenness and the loneliness, we have been blessed with their hospitality. Two of the members of the church have opened up their homes for us. Daniel and Matt are staying with Leung (uncle) Peng, and I am staying with Leung Newidd. During the week, we follow and help P’Fon, the pastor of the small church in our community. She is an extremely busy woman, and we are still not sure if she ever sleeps. During the day, we visit the homes of brothers and sisters of Christ in this community and visit patients at the hospital. We worship, pray, and share the Word of God with one another. Every evening, we teach English to kids ages 6-10. We also do a fair share of manual labor, mostly yard work and gardening. We’ve trimmed hedges, cut down large branches off trees, and more. Just this past week we’ve plowed and planted flowers in the lot by the church to start a small garden.
Just by doing work and serving the community, we have been able to build relationships with the members of community here, especially with the church community. The church is small and the members are few, but these are the faithful few. Especially in a country of less than 1% Christians, the identity as a Christian carries big meaning. There is so much joy even among strangers when we meet and introduce and greet one another as Christians. The streets are full of spirit houses and idols. A Buddhist temple with beautiful architecture stands tall every other block. The cultural and religious influences here make each day a challenge for Christians. But as Isaiah 42 states, God does not yield his glory. Our God is not glorified in worldly standards. The church in Phra-praedaeng stands above a swamp, a small and old building compared to the large golden Buddhist temple right outside the leprosy community, but our God is glorified everyday by the faithful few that live here.
If there is anything of which I am certain, it is that our brothers and sisters in Christ here love to worship, love to give thanks to God and love one another. The faithful few here are the pillars of this community with its foundation in God. They are the light to those who do not know God yet. They provide support and refuge to fellow Christians whose faith is challenged every day. Through these few, I see God working in this community, and I can see God being glorified above all the idols, the spirit houses, and prayer and worship to false gods. God is faithful to those who fear him, and his steadfast love endures forever.
Written by Hansol