Less than one percent. This is the number that represents the population of Christians in a nation—not a city or even an ethnic group but a NATION! The percentage of Christians in all of Thailand is represented as 0.7%. Not even one percent.
I have been immensely blessed to be able to travel to Chiang Rai, Thailand every summer the past four years. The past two years, I was able to spend the majority of the summer season living and working at Baan Athitaan Church. When people hear this, many respond with looks of confusion or admiration, like I am an alien from another planet or a super-Christian. I can tell you that both of these assumptions are wrong. Generally, I feel a certain degree of confusion at their responses. Why is it so strange to “give up” my summer to reach out to the lost? Why is it considered sacrificial at all? Hasn’t Jesus commanded us all to give up the things of this world and follow Him? To the ends of the earth, nonetheless.
Over the past four years, I have seen God’s mighty hand at work in many ways in the people of Northern Thailand; however, this past summer, my team and I were able to sense God’s presence in ways unseen before. One of the many ministries my team was involved with was a ministry at the university—Chiangrai Rajabhat University. Each day we sought to make new relationships with the students and build stronger bonds with those we knew already. The second day of doing this, I met a girl named Yui. She, along with most Thai people, was extremely timid. Stepping outside of my comfort zone, I reached out to get to know her. We spent the next few days doing much of the same. The fourth day after I met Yui, we were talking, and I was helping her with homework…or at least, attempting to help, when all of a sudden, Yui made a statement, “I have a friend that is Christian. But I am Buddhist because my parents are Buddhist.” Caught off guard, I casually asked her to explain the basic concept of Buddhism to me. Her response to me was what I expected, “If you are a good person, you go to heaven. If you are not a good person, you do not go to heaven.” Although I understand this concept as basic Buddhist doctrine, hearing her say the words broke my heart. Over the next 30 minutes or so, she allowed me to explain our basic Christian beliefs—from creation to crucifixion to the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. She listened intently, frequently commenting and asking questions, thus assuring me that she was listening and understood. Yui was hungry for more than the “religion” her culture has fed her. Countless other Thais are just like her, while many more don’t even realize there is something more than working for a false salvation.
Friends, John had it right when he wrote, “The fields are RIPE with harvest!”(John 4:35). However, no matter the ripe harvest, the workers are few (Luke 10:2). Today there are millions, even billions, of people that have never heard the good news about Jesus Christ—people that believe satan’s lies that only the good go to heaven, or there is no heaven and no God. They believe these lies because there is no one to tell them the truth. And that is our fault.
This summer, I learned that we as Christians don’t have to have all the answers. We don’t have to be profound theological speakers with doctorate degrees. All we have to do is be the willing and obedient hands and feet of Jesus that GO. When we answer God’s call to go, rest assured that He accompanies us to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:20). There are too many people dying and going to hell for us to sit back and wait for the “elect few”, the “super-Christians”, to go. God is calling us. Me. And you. YOU. If you are a born-again believer, God has called you to the mission field. As a dear friend said, “Our mission field is wherever our feet are.” –Rebecca Godfrey.
The staff at Baan Athitaan has answered the call of our great Lord. Both the Westerners and Thai staff have left behind their fathers, mothers, friends, and materialistic things of this world to follow Jesus with one intention: make disciples among a nation that is less than one percent Christian.
So when I tell about my summers in Thailand and receive questions of why I spend the money and the time, I remember the 67 million people of Thailand that do not yet know about the man named Jesus that cleanses us of our sins and desires an intimate relationship with us. Then I remember my friend Yui, curious and desperate to know more, thirsting for more in a dry and weary land where there is so little water.
By Susan Green, Florence, MS
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