“Aliens & Strangers” in Thailand
Since my marriage in 1978 I have lived in 30 houses. I just moved into my most recent domicile today after spending the last couple of months in a guest room at the top of the Bible school I teach in here in Chiang Mai , Thailand. I was counting up the number of towns I have lived in during the course of these years and came up with eleven cities scattered around three countries. This may seem like a lot of moves, yet I have talked with missionaries who have made many more transitions than I have. The verse that came to mind today was 1 Peter 2:11, ““Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from fleshly desires, which war against your soul.” This verse reminds me that this world is NOT my home, that I am heading to my true home which Jesus is preparing for me.
When I came to Thailand our family made a strong effort to become integrated into Thai life by studying the language, customs and temperment of the people. So now, after 37 years of working with the Thai, I no longer feel like a stranger and alien to all things Thai. And although I do feel quite at ease in this culture, I will never totally assimilate. In fact, Romans 12:2 reminds me to not integrate or be conformed to the world system which surrounds me, whatever that might be. One can unconsciously pick up worldly interests or behaviors in a country like Thailand if you are not careful. Thus, we need much prayer in order to balance this desire for integration with our true Biblical status as an aliens and strangers in a hostile world.