Thailand Base

Monk Chat

At the Wat Chedi Luang temple in the center of Chiang Mai, Thailand, there is a program that provides the opportunity for monks to practice their English…and gives us the space to ask them any questions that come to mind. So, while my parents were here, we decided to go.

From graceohara.theworldrace.org

(my parents + Kate)

Meet Cody – he’s 23 years old and teaches English at a monk “high school” about half an hour outside of the city. He answered all of our questions about what it’s like being a Buddhist monk, what his day-to-day looks like, and then we jumped on little opportunities to bring Jesus into our conversation. We sat and talked with Cody for a little more than an hour. Before we left, he said, “You should come teach English at my school, to the little monks!”

Um. YES PLEASE.

My parents left before we had the time to go teach, but after we got our new teams, mine quickly jumped on the opportunity. It was such a great experience that we got the rest of our squad to join in on the second day!

I may call them “little monks”, but technically they’re called Novices and in reality, they’re almost all teenagers. ….meh, I’m still going to call them “little monks” 🙂

Our school day began at 8am, with the monks doing their morning chants. We watched in respect, and it was incredible. At 9, the chants were finished and all of the little monks went to their respective classes. We went into where the English class was held and was greeted with 20-ish monks yelling, “Good morning, Teachers!”

The head monk in that class, Alan, had everyone split off into groups with one member of our team in each group. There were about 4 or 5 little monks to each of us. We spent about 30 minutes talking with them, asking them questions about their lives, family, hobbies, why they became monks, what they want to be when they grow up, and so much more. They answered our questions and then asked us some as well. I don’t know exactly what I expected with their answers, but it really was how you would think a conversation with a teenage boy would be: they love video games, and sports (even though monks can’t play sports…they can sure watch!), they don’t like to read, school isn’t their favorite, and they want to know what girls look for in a guy. Some things are just universal, y’know? Haha.

We did that with the 3 different classes both days, along with games centered around English words. Y’all, monks are so cool and so much fun. We talked, we joked, we laughed, we got kinda competitive, and we ended those school days wishing we had had more time.

I learned a lot from those kids, though. Truly. They work hard, they love well, they don’t judge others, and stand firm in their beliefs whether those around them do or not. They’re for people, 100%. That’s it. They knew we were Christians and they still excitedly invited us into their space.

I wish we as Christians could follow that example more. There’s been so many times where “standing firm” in our Christian beliefs resulted in the demeaning or dehumanizing of another individual. I’ve been on the receiving side of an aggressive Christian, condemning me because of a slightly different perspective, and it’s not fun – and, as hard as it is for me to admit, there have been times where my faith has come off aggressive and off-putting to others as well (also, not fun).

All I’m saying is, people around the world are seeing America, an universally assumed Christian country, tear itself apart. It breaks my heart! I don’t necessarily have answers, I don’t know where to start, & I don’t even really know where exactly I’m going with all of this. I do know I saw more of the Father’s heart through some teenage monks than I’ve seen in most of my Christian friends’ post on Facebook, so I just want to encourage you to take a look at every move you make and ask the Lord where He is through them all – I believe He’ll show you where He is, and I believe He’ll show you where He isn’t. Then, I guess, go from there.

-Grace

https://graceohara.theworldrace.org/post/monkchats

HEALING TESTIMONY

My good friend Madison and I decided to do some evangelizing at the Lantern Festival here in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and God healed a man’s ears! God loves to woo His children to Him through healing. It’s God’s kindness that leads men to repentance. He’s so good and He loves us so much! Yay God!

 

-Ryan

 

https://ryanokeefe.theworldrace.org/post/healing-testimony-mans-hearing-restored

Ministry is…

Ministry is….

 

Ministry is life, life is ministry.

 

Ministry is being flexible to show up to your hosts soccer game, then finding out it is cancelled due to air pollution.

 

Ministry is sitting one on one with a vulnerable girl who was just rescued from the sex trade in Thailand and telling her how much the God of the universe loves her.

 

Ministry is befriending an Israeli man and walking by his pizza shop everyday greeting him with the biggest smile. (also eating his pizza because it is bomb and a sweet touch of home).

 

Ministry is watching my teammates serve in a coffee shop.

 

Ministry is babysitting kids that you do not share same language with.

 

Ministry is showing people how to download the Bible app on their smartphone.

 

Ministry is listening with your heart, not just your ears.

 

Ministry is praying for women in the pursuit for God’s love.

 

Ministry is making your tuk tuk driver laugh.

 

Ministry is taking three hours to get somewhere when the language barrier is a struggle.

 

Ministry is eating squid with your host family at a night food market.

 

Ministry is meeting a complete stranger also from Tennessee living in Thailand.

 

Ministry is grocery shopping at local stands on the street corners.

 

Ministry is sorting 1,000 bead into small containers.

 

Ministry is laughing with your sisters until your belly hurts.

 

Ministry is giving and receiving feedback.

 

Ministry is making friends at the 7/11 down the street.

 

Ministry is teaching origami and telling 40 kids how deep the Father’s love for them is.

 

Ministry is teaching English.

 

Ministry is teaching love.

 

Ministry is preparing to hug your parents in 3 days!

 

Ministry is laughter, pain, tears, a smile, a hug, and a high five.

 

Ministry is nodding your head and saying okay when someone is speaking to you in Thai, and you do not understand.

 

Ministry is all of the above and so much more.

 

Ministry is Life. Life is ministry.

-Catie

https://catiecollinssmith.theworldrace.org/post/ministry-is

from the roof of this hostel

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. 

UPDATE!!

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

-Lindsey

https://lindseyjacobsson.theworldrace.org/post/worship