“Did you know? Mr Suchat is dying. It doesn’t look good.”
I am standing in our kitchen one morning with our housekeeper Mrs. Yaa and I freeze as I hear these words but I am not sure whether I understood correctly. Translating in my head slowly, I realized I heard it right. Our neighbour is dying?
“He fainted at home two days ago and has been in the hospital since,” Mrs. Yaa continued. “We don’t know how long he was there before a friend came over concerned about not seeing him.”
I keep thinking: this couldn’t be true! I had just spoken to him earlier in the week.
Mr. Suchat kept chickens, dogs as well as songbirds. The boys and I would always be entertained by the beautiful birds he raised and loved looking at them as we pass by. Caden even mentioned a few days ago the dog had puppies and asked me if I would take him to see them. I absentmindedly said we would do so later but now I felt regret we didn’t go and have a chance to speak with him.
For the past two years, our neighbours in Paakphanang, South Thailand, have embraced us and we feel like they are family. So when we found out later in the day that Mr. Suchat passed away, I was filled with sadness.
Mr. Suchat’s death dug into my heart deeply. Not only because he was a dear neighbour but the fact that we never had the opportunity to share the gospel with him. He was well aware we were Christian missionaries but we never spoke of Jesus’ offer of eternal life to those who repent and believe in Him. Mr. Suchat wasn’t an old man. He was 51 years old. His father, who was well into his late 80s, only passed away last year. So I took for granted that Mr. Suchat will be around for years yet.
As we went to his Buddhist funeral, I feel a sense of failure. I’m shaken that Mr. Suchat never heard the good news and I’m even envisioning him asking me why I never shared… In the days following, my heart is further divided. Even though I’m looking forward to returning to the States and seeing all our family and friends, I realized I’m leaving behind loved ones here, too. I’m praying and asking God to help me keep this burden in my heart and never lose the vision of why we are here: to proclaim Jesus Christ is Lord.
Father, “teach us to number our days, so we may get a heart of wisdom” to remember our time here is short, but that we can work during this time to yield eternal fruit.