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