Street vendors abound in Thailand. Roasted corn, iced drinks, sticky rice, grilled pork, grilled chicken, fried chicken, fried hotdogs, hot dogs wrapped in waffles, ice cream, noodle soup, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with 2 snacks in between – if you really wanted to, you could survive without ever setting foot in a grocery store or restaurant in Thailand.
For health purposes, we have limited our consumption of street food. But last May, we began frequenting a fruit stand which was on our return route from our daughter’s preschool. Always looking for an opportunity to practice Thai, my husband struck up a conversation with the fruit vendor.
“How is it that you can speak Thai?” she asked him.
“We are here to teach about Jesus,” Brian replied.
“Oh, Jesus,” she said. Through further conversation, he learned that the Jehovah’s Witnesses in town visited Rabbit (the vendor) every so often.
Brian and I began chatting with Rabbit about this or that each time we bought fruit from her. One day, Rabbit told us, “You’re different from the others. You take time to ask me questions and get to know who I am.” A few weeks later, Brian learned that Rabbit liked to read, so the next day, he gave her a booklet titled, “Who is Jesus?”
To our surprise, she read it!
A few weeks later, she began coming to church with us. The first time she came, she cried during the worship time. I think her heart knew it was beginning to move toward its real home.
About six months later, I stopped by Rabbit’s stand. “My mom was in an accident,” Rabbit said. “She’s okay, but she told me she was going to the temple today. She was going to buy an amulet for me there, but I told her I don’t wear amulets any more. I also told her that I go to church now. She was really worried and said I would turn into a different person, but I told her I’m still the same Rabbit.”
As I listened, I smiled and thought to myself, “By God’s grace, you will become a different person, Rabbit. And we hope you will bring the good news of Jesus to your entire household.”
Praise the Lord! Rabbit’s story does not end here. On Easter morning this past year, she made a public confession of faith in Jesus. My heart was glad as I could not help but think of Romans 10, “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” On that Easter Sunday, God reached into Rabbit’s heart, and she is now a new creation in Christ Jesus.
Please pray for Rabbit. New Christians in Thailand will often be ostracized from their families, or will experience a significant amount of suffering that they have not experienced previously. This can become a very trying time for them, and it is extremely important that the people of God surround Rabbit with the support she will need to grow in her new faith journey.