Today I’m in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Everyday, I wake up and walk the streets and go to sleep immersed in this beautifully strange new culture. The air smells of rice and smog; the streets are filled with motorbikes and tuk tuks and songtaews; on almost every corner you’ll find a massage parlor or a coffee shop or a spirit house (a shrine to the “protective spirit”), and at night the street comes alive with markets–markets everywhere!–where you can buy cool elephant pants or iced Thai tea or all kinds of strange meat and of course, Thai food. It’s all so exciting and lively and intriguing!
I live in Zion hostel with 37 girls and we go to sleep surrounded by the sounds of each other and the restlessness of the city streets. Just about a five minute walk behind our hostel is Loi Kroh–a street lined with bars and clubs and women who sell their bodies to make pay. Odds are, most of them were at one time or another forced or tricked into the trade. And so, as I walk these streets day by day and night by night, the vibrancy of the city life can never shut out the cries of the hurting I hear in the very core of my being; my heart is uneasy and the air feels so heavy with the weight of corruption, the darkness lingering beneath the surface, injustice happening behind closed doors. It all breaks and tears at my heart in ways I’ve never experienced before.
We’ve started walking Loi Kroh at night to pray and lift our voices on behalf of all the wrong that is taking place right before our eyes; we pray for peace, for the presence of the Lord to be released into this place, into the bars that fill these streets, into the hearts that are crying out. We pray for freedom, for redemption, for chains to be broken in Jesus’ name. As we walk, with every step we can feel the weight of darkness that seems to reign here, but with faith we pray, we speak up because we know, I know that the darkness on these streets could never extinguish the light overflowing within us.
In John 7 Jesus cries out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Rivers of living water! For those of us who said yes, who came to Jesus for a drink, we’ve been filled! We’ve been filled to the brim with rivers of living water and we don’t have to thirst anymore! Thank you Jesus! But what I believe Jesus is revealing here is not only the gift of our own filling, but of pouring out. We’re called to be fountains, fountains that release rivers of living water to the people around us. And it’s not us, it’s never us, but always the power of the Holy Spirit within us. And so as I’ve walked the streets of Chiang Mai, the prayer and song on my lips is this: rivers of living water. Holy Spirit come and overflow, flood these streets with Your presence of peace, of love, of life! I can’t keep quiet anymore, the power of His presence has become more real to me now and I can feel Him, hear Him calling on me to lift up my voice to pray, to sing.
One of my favorite things about the hostel we live in here is the roof. Many nights, you’ll find us standing on the roof and singing out in worship over the streets of the raging city, and it’s here that I believe the presence of the Lord is invading these streets in a powerful way. Often times we think the frontlines in this battle for the lost is up front, Bible-in-hand evangelism, and maybe it is sometimes, but as we stand on the roof together in song, lifting our voices loud on behalf of the enslaved and broken and burdened, I can’t help but think, what if this right here is the battle at the frontlines? What if our greatest weapon is our song? There’s power in worship, in lifting our voices and letting God be God. He’s a whole lot bigger then we think, and sometimes this holy invasion has nothing to do with our own hands in it but His, only ever always His. All we can really do is pray and sing and praise Him, thank Him that the battle is already won! He has the victory! It’s in the atmosphere of worship and in the presence of His Spirit that miracles begin to happen and I’m believing for it every single time we get up on the roof and sing out to Him.
I feel a refreshment of faith awakening within me and I’m releasing a new song to Him from the roof of this hostel over every street of this city. Praying, singing for rivers of living water to be released, and I can feel it in my bones, this holy invasion, Heaven invading these streets in glimpses, in flickers, maybe even in leaps.
My ministry here is at Agape Home, an orphanage for kids living with HIV and AIDS. The word agape is greek for unconditional love.<3 I’ve fallen in love with this ministry and all the kids who call it home. The last two weeks we’ve spent time cleaning in their Life Center, as well as making jump ropes, sowing pencil bags and ironing straps for another part of their ministry, where they put together bags full of various supplies to send out to other orphanages around the world! We’ve also gotten time to hold and love on the babies in the baby room, celebrate the adoption of a little boy named Martin, and celebrate the first day of summer break with all the kids, a day full of fun games and songs and snow cones and popcorn and swimming! This coming week we’ll begin teaching English classes for the kids and spending time doing different activities with them. I’m so excited and I’m so grateful for this chance to love on these kids and I pray they encounter the agape-kind-of-love their Father has for them.
You can be praying with us as we pray for all the enslavement and bondage and brokenness happening in the streets of Loi Kroh and all throughout Thailand. You can also pray for the kids at Agape, that they would come to know God as their Father as they grow. So much love for you all! <3