July 9, 2012
You can have the whole world, but give me Jesus.
Bangkok, Thailand. Getting out of the airport and onto the road itself was a culture shock. Bright purple and pink taxi cars on the highway reminded me of the toy hotwheel cars my brother used to play with. Stuffed into a van, all of our eyes were glued to the window taking in the sights of Bangkok. Massive billboard advertisements stood tall like giants over the slum areas. Just driving down the highway gave a snapshot of the contrast between wealth and poverty.
Orientation felt like splashes of ice-cold water, prepping us to plunge into another world. Every day grew more difficult and intense as we discussed issues of racial discrimination, sex trafficking, and poverty around globe. We did exercises that revealed the ways we’d each been affected by racism. We also did exercises that helped us understand what crossing culture looked like and what may happen when very different cultures meet. On our last night in Bangkok, we broke into smaller groups and went to red-light districts to pray over areas where prostitution of men and women took place. That night in particular was the most challenging. Ivan and Kashmiri and their team work in the red light district and led us, bringing such depth and richness to the love of Jesus.
That week was interesting. For a group of 60 college students who barely know each other to talk about issues of racism, human trafficking, cross-cultural roadblocks, and poverty is something only Jesus can pull off. However, as we were actively doing much, Ivan reminded us that it’s all about intimacy with Jesus. In Luke 10:20, Jesus explains “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Jesus said this after his disciples had just gotten back from witnessing the power that Jesus’ name had over demons. He encourages them to set their eyes not on the victories of what they’re doing, but on what’s eternal, a life with Him. To know Jesus intimately, and to be with Him, is the ultimate goal. In every conversation, thought, and place, he wants us to go, he goes with us, and waits for us there. I pray intimacy with our Lord will grow as we dive into difficult realities these next five weeks.