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July 2009

Viewing posts from July , 2009

God is Working in the Hearts of Men

Kaja

 

So, I’m cruising through the Tokyo airport, right?  Just passing time during one of many layovers on my way to Thailand, and I happen upon a TV playing Larry King Live, only Larry has miraculously learned to speak Japanese since I left the States not even a full 24 hours before.  (His lips haven’t yet caught up to his new miraculous language ability though).  An Indian gentleman, (now a U.S. citizen), who is sitting nearby says to me, “long flight, huh?”  “Yeah, and I’ve still got a long way to go to get to Thailand,” I respond.  That’s all it takes, and within a few seconds of why are you going to Thailand questions, he swiftly changes the conversation to, “so, you’re not going to Thailand for a ‘girl vacation’ huh?  You must be serious about this Christian thing.  Let’s talk.” 

 

We talked for the rest of the Tokyo layover, and as God would have it, we both had at least a 7 hour layover in Singapore.  We talked about work, family, movies, etc., but my new friend kept mentioning Jesus over and over.  He wanted to learn more.  He was searching for the truth.  We had great time hanging out and I had the chance to share my faith with him and give him a small book explaining our need for the gospel.  Another Indian man on the plane joined us during our layover in Singapore and heard the gospel as well.  It was clear that God was working in the hearts of these men and desires to bring them to know Him.  So, Kaja, you may be reading this: Just wanted to let you know that I prayed for you, and I hope you will consider what we talked about and take to heart the words of that little book.  Place your faith in Christ – you won’t regret it.   

 

 

 

Nu

 

How about this one – I have known Nu since 2002.  He was a freshman at Kasetsart University and I was in my second year of ministry there.  He was an English major and we quickly became good friends as he loved to practice English and learn slang words that his books wouldn’t teach him.  I shared the gospel with him several times, and he arrived at the point of mental agreement with the basic facts of the gospel, but He didn’t believe from the heart and was not repentant, with saving faith.

 

We lost touch over the 3 years I was in the States, but re-connected through my “randomly” bumping into a mutual friend at Kasetsart University in 2006, after Nu had already graduated.  We were reunited and hung out again and discussed Christ, but he still wasn’t ready.

 

Fast forward to April 2009.  As I was going through some old stuff from Thailand, I “stumbled across” Nu’s email.  We hadn’t talked for a couple of years, but I did a quick search on facebook, and there he was.  I added him, and he responded immediately.  He and another friend, Ted, had just been talking in the last few days about how they could reconnect with me!   We made plans for a reunion as soon as I got back to Bangkok.

 

During our first meeting back in Bangkok a couple of weeks ago, we had a blast as always – but something happened that never had before.  Nu asked me about Christ.  He wanted to know what someone must do to become a Christian.  He asked about baptism and rituals and faith and how it all worked together.  He blew away next when he invited himself to church.  Not only that, but he said, “we will all meet you there at church soon – me, my girlfriend and two more friends!”  I’m expecting them sometime in the next few weeks.  Nu is a great friend, and I am so excited about getting to hang out with him over the next few months.

 

 

 

Moby

 

One of those friends was Moby, a guy who I met that very night.  As we were leaving, Moby pulled me aside and said, “Matt, I would really like to know about Christianity.  I have studied Buddhism and Islam a little bit.  My family is Buddhist, but I don’t really believe it.  Can you teach me about Christianity?”  I said, “yeah, I think I can handle that.”  We’ll be meeting soon.

 

 

 

Taxi drivers

 

Talk about a perfect place to share the gospel.  You’re paying a guy to drive you somewhere.  He has nowhere to escape.  He must listen to what you have to say.  Thankfully though, most are absolutely blown away when the foreigner who they just picked up can speak Thai.  Can you say instant credibility and completely captive audience?

 

Most of the time, I ride with friends, drive for friends who can’t drive, ride a bus, or a van, but the occasional taxi ride is thrown in the mix.  And so far, I have run into several taxi drivers who are actually very interested in talking about spiritual things.  Each has had their little Buddha idols on their dash, and hanging from their rearview mirror, but several have told me that they were quite interested in investigating Christianity further.  None have believed during the car trip so far, but they have clearly heard the gospel – and each and every one told me that it was the first time in their life that they heard why Jesus had to die.  Imagine that!  Thousands of people cross my path each day in this mega-city who have heard the name of Christ BUT THEY HAVE NO CLUE WHAT HE DID OR WHY HE DID IT!  Would you join me in praying that one day I will see a taxi driver place his faith in Christ?

I’ve done nothing

It’s September of 2001 – not even a month after coming to Thailand – and I meet a student named Hack.  He couldn’t speak English, and I couldn’t speak Thai. With a Thai Christian translating, and God doing the real work, Hack was the first guy I saw become a Christian here in the Land of Smiles.  For the following two years, we continued to meet together from time to time for Bible study, resorting to pointing back and forth from English to Thai in the Scriptures, often struggling to communicate, but always growing in fellowship.  Hack grew in his faith.  I saw him share his faith with his friends and family, and saw the outflowing from the indwelling Christ changing him from the inside out.  It was clear – I did nothing, God did all.  As in all things, in spite of me, God moved.

Well, it’s been six years since I officially lived in Thailand – (not counting the 5-month stay halfway through) – and almost a full eight years since my first arrival.  And it’s even clearer now, I have done nothing, God has done all.  In spite of me, God moved. 

As I made the long trek from Crossett, AR to Bangkok, Thailand, by way of Little Rock, Denver, Los Angeles, Tokyo, & Singapore, including layovers and all about 36 hours from start to finish, making my arrival once again in Thailand, six years after my official residence here ended, I couldn’t help but think how unfaithful I’ve been to pray for and to send my encouragements to my friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ, my “disciples,” my younger brothers in the faith.  My prayer and encouragements have been few and far between.  I am far more interested in me than in others a vast majority of the time.  I could have done so much more.  But in spite of me, God moved.  Stepping through the immigration checkpoint gates at the airport and heading towards the exit, can you guess whose face was the first I saw?  It was Hack.  The very first guy who I got to see become a Christian eight years ago, the very first guy I got to attempt to disciple here in Thailand was there waiting to pick up his big brother.  Awesome.  I have done nothing.  It has been God who has kept him.  God who has grown him.  God who has provided everything for him.  God who has been faithful to him.  God who has done all. 

In being here these first few weeks, I’ve quickly seen that God has grown Hack into a budding spiritual leader.  When I left the first time, he was full of zeal, sharing his faith with others, but still lacking in knowledge, and sometimes being easily blown by shifting winds.  Now, God has established him – and firmly rooted him as a young man of God.  During the time I was gone, God led Hack to join the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ here in Thailand.  God has saved new “little brothers and sisters” in the faith through Hack who now part of my spiritual “family tree.”  His walk is no longer driven by on again, off again zeal, but he seeks to live each day by faith, surrendered to Christ.  He has come to know Christ in deeper, fuller ways – and his life is now knowing Christ and making Him known each day.  I did nothing.  God did all.

And now – praise God this is so awesome! – we get the chance to work together.  I’m volunteering with Thailand CCC, and as God would have it, I get to help Hack’s team at Thamassat University a couple of days a week, along with another team at Kasetsart University.  We can now go out and share the gospel together & minister together.  We’ve played the guitar at church together & led worship on campus together.  I’m even staying at Hack’s house, (along with 5 other guys). 

All of this – to think how far we’ve come – and to think how little I have done – it blows me away.  The only thing I can do is to praise, worship, and thank a God Who remains faithful, in spite of my unfaithfulness, to a God Whose plans cannot be thwarted, but accomplishes all His good pleasure, to a God Who knows that we, in and ourselves can do nothing, and Who graciously undertakes to do all.

“For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to Whom be glory forever. Amen”

– Romans 11:36