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The surprising 180˚ turn


When loss of life creates unprecedented opportunities

Chun was very sick due to many years of alcohol abuse. He had become a child of God and we prayed for him, but several days later he was hospitalised and near death.
 
When people die in Thailand, their body stays at their house for several days before being cremated. The quality of the area where they lay is seen as a measure of respect shown. A nice area shows great respect; a dirty, run down area shows little respect. Chun’s house was filthy and in urgent need of repairs. Some of the rafters in the roof had been completely eaten away by termites.
 
In order to show respect to a dying man we agreed to fix up his house. Many people from the village gave their time and effort to accomplish this, with us footing the bill. During this time we were able to explain to many people about who we are and why we are here. It was also made known throughout the village that we were the ones paying for the house repairs. The work took about a week to finish and by then, we had become celebrities in the village.

Helping fix up the house

Fixing up the house
 
God has worked a miracle! People are now no longer afraid of us. People come up to us and say thank you for what we are doing. More importantly, people are no longer scared of Christianity and are much more willing to talk about God. Many have come to us and told us that they believe God is working in what we are doing.
 
Our work is being noticed outside the village as well. Just before the house repairs were finished, Chun was sent home from hospital. The hospital was asked to keep him there another night as a ‘foundation’ (us) was fixing his house and there was nowhere for him to stay. The hospital did not believe a foundation was helping and thought that if he could afford to renovate his house, he could afford to hire help to care for him. Without telling the family what would happen, the hospital basically dumped Chun out in the sun outside an unfinished house and left. One local lady found out and published a Facebook post that went all around the world telling people how this man was treated. In response the hospital then sent about 15 people to the house to see Chun and find out what was going on. This incident has given us (and the work we do) a very high profile in this district, which is great. Because of the work we do, people are changing the way they think about us and listening to the message we have about Jesus as well.

Sitting with Chun outside his house
 
Unfortunately, the day after the house was ready, Chun passed away. When he died the first thing that happened was that Chun’s mouth was closed, but towels were used so that people did not have to touch his skin to do it. They were scared that Chun’s spirit would pass into them. Usually a monk would come to chant so that the deceased’s spirit would find its way to the next life. This time, I had the honour of performing this ceremony and I prayed that God would lead his spirit to heaven. People were surprised that I dared to touch the body and to sit by his side. Thais try to stay away from dead bodies as they fear the dead person’s spirit, but I felt it wasn’t right to leave him alone. This has also been a good witness.
 
At his funeral, we were able to inject a Christian flavour. After the monks had done their part, several cross-cultural workers went up the front to pray for Chun, his family, and the community. There was even an opportunity for the gospel to be presented by another cross-cultural worker who speaks Thai much more fluently than I do.

The privilege of sharing the gospel at the funeral
 
A number of people at the funeral wore white, which is the colour that represents purity and is seen as showing an allegiance to God. Usually at funerals people will wear black. This is the first time we have seen this and it is encouraging to see so many people willing to ‘go against the flow’, so to speak. It has been more than 40 years since the last Christian ceremony at this particular cemetery. This was due to a falling out between the local church and the local Buddhist community.
 
As you can see, some big things have happened here. We did not fully understand the level of resistance as a community to us here until now. It was not an obvious thing to us. Now, however, it seems to us like the entire village has finally come to a communal decision that we are OK and with that has come the understanding that our message is worth listening to. The change is quite dramatic. We now even have the village headman and the deputy district leader, among many others, on our side and open to the gospel.
 
Please pray that we will not waste this amazing opportunity that God has given us. There are many villages just like this one who are still waiting for someone to explain the gospel to them. Please continue to pray that God will call more workers to join our team and join us in this type of ministry.


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