Cheering from the back seat
They might not admit to it but I think that all new missionaries have visions of grandeur for when they are finally let loose. The daydreams in my head went something like this: –
- During my first year at language school I will quickly master the language and lead several people to Jesus, starting a small but stable church that is able to stand on its own within six months.
- Upon finishing language school, I will easily integrate into a new community, share the gospel widely and see a church planting movement starting soon after.
Needless to say things did not quite pan out like that. Twenty months later I’m still stumbling through language and culture but I’m privileged to be a part of something far more exciting I see happening.
Seven months ago we joined the urban poor church planting team in Bangkok. Our team consists of both foreign missionaries and Thai workers. A few weeks ago I was travelling in a taxi with a Thai colleague. The taxi driver asked the usual questions – where are you from, what do you do – and eventually we got around to saying that we were Christians. From this point on, I only understood the basic gist of what was being said, but the taxi driver and my colleague spoke at length as she explained her testimony, the gospel and everything in between from demon possession to what we do at church. She did what I can’t do now and probably will never be able to do as sufficiently as she did. My only contribution was being too lazy to catch the bus and paying for the fare.
After this experience I realised two things. Firstly, as a missionary I am going to spend far more time in support and encouragement of local Thai Christians as they proclaim the gospel and disciple people. Secondly, this church planting movement that all missionaries hope to see happen will probably not start with us, but rather through Christians in Thailand faithfully taking the gospel out to their own people.