I recently helped one of the local Christians put a walk-way into his house. He lives in the middle of a rice field and the land his house is built on floods a little every year. The house is up high on stilts but getting in and out of the house becomes difficult, as the pathway in becomes muddy and partially covered with water.
Three years ago, a mission team from overseas came to visit. One of the Christians on the team wanted to help his situation, especially as he cares for an aging and invalid mother, so she donated some money to help. Knowing his situation, I was quick to tell him that some money was available and suggested what we should do to improve access to the house. Despite being appreciative of the offer, the young Christian man wasn’t ready to go ahead…
Time passed and I repeated my suggestion. “Surely this will make things better for his mother,” I thought. But the young man said, “Wait until rainy season is over…” Later on he commented, “Oh, but the house is so old and belongs to my relative, it’s not worth investing money here. And my mother can hardly walk anywhere…”
So I had to be patient and bide my time. Often missionary work is like this. Westerners (like myself) like everything to happen now. We’d like lots of people come to faith in Christ now. We want to see big churches started now. We want to see people healed of their health issues now. We want to see people set free from their bondages now. We want to see new Christians become instant leaders now.
But while we should never be slow to serve or slow to move ahead, I’ve learnt that some things take time. Relationships and trust are built slowly – especially in Asia. Now that I’ve been here for 15 years, I’m finding that the people in the deep south of Thailand are starting to listen to my ideas and appreciate what I say. I lived in Pak Phanang (a coastal district of Nakhon Si Thammarat province) for almost 10 years and now that I have moved, I keep bumping into people from my old town who are open to having a long chat with me. The people in my latest location are open and welcoming, but the relationship isn’t yet to the point where they’re ready to listen and take on what I say. So I have to be patient and allow the relationships to develop.
As for the young Thai Christian, it finally got to the point where he was sick and tired of wading through mud and so asked, “Ajarn, do you think we could build the walkway now?” It’s good to see helpful things come to fruition, even if it takes a bit of time.
Jeff & Belinda Callow
Will you pray for Thailand?
- Praise God for the patience of workers like Jeff & Belinda and pray for God to work in them as they wait for him.
- Pray for God to work in his timing and for cross-cultural workers and Thai Christians to keep in the step with the Spirit as they labour with him to build relationships and share the gospel.
- Pray for the opportunities that come with long-term relationships. Pray for gospel workers to be faithful in continuing these relationships and taking opportunities when the arise.