A wake-up call
We began visiting people in the Phrom Khiri community on Wednesdays a couple months back. It’s something I used to like to do with my dad when I was a child, probably because I would often be given tasty snacks:) In that case we visited people who were part of the churches my dad was pastoring, but in Phrom Khiri, the people we visit are generally not Christian since there are so few Christians in this district. We usually walk around the community, stop and say hi to people we recognize and tell Bible stories with those interested. One Wednesday a bit over a month ago, I noticed the vehicle of former neighbors of mine parked at a house. I had been curious as to where they were living and so we decided to drop by the house. Mong, a guy a bit younger than me, came out to greet us with a big smile. When I asked about his family, he said his dad was in hospital with cancer. He was talking about his stepdad, a guy named Geh who had helped me paint my house. Mong’s birth dad (who had also helped me do work on my house) had himself died of cancer about 3 months before and I had gone to the funeral and tried to be of comfort to the family. Before we left, Mong warmly invited us to come back again.
We went in to visit Geh in the hospital the next day and he and his wife told us it was just a intestinal infection and blockage. But he was obviously in a lot of pain and couldn’t eat anything. He was very happy to have us pray for him in Jesus’ name. I came back on my own 2 days later and shared the story of the prodigal son with him and how God is like that father in the story, longing to have us come to Him to receive forgiveness of sins and come into his family. We visited him a couple more times in Phrom Khiri, giving gospel tracts for him to read, praying for him and urging him to call out to God himself. He seemed very open to what we shared about Jesus and told me he had read all the tracts I brought and really liked them. We also brought food for his wife since she would be with him most of the time since in the public hospitals in Thailand the families of the patients are responsible looking after the patient (hospital staff bring food and medication but don’t help with feeding or bathroom,etc…) He went to the large hospital in Nakhon City to have his intestines operated on and we visited him there after the operation. He was in pain but still positive. We found out a couple days later that he was back in Phrom Khiri Hospital. We stopped in later that evening seeing he was in quite a bit of pain and having trouble breathing because of the pain in his intestines and we said we’d come back in the morning. We came back at 8am, prayed with him and urged him to call out to God.
The next day I heared someone calling out to me as I was at the library by the temple. It was Geh’s wife. As I walked over, I had a sinking feeling. She told me with a smile on her face (since Thai Buddhists are taught not to mourn death) that Geh had died the day before at 11am, 3 hours after we had visited. For us, it was a hard time, since we were looking forward to sharing more of the gospel with Geh and we hadn’t expected this sudden death. But I am thankful for what we were able to share and that there is a chance that we will see Geh in heaven, and it has been a wake-up call to me that I need to be more bold and zealous in my gospel witness.
The funeral happened over the next few 3 days, consisting of people coming in to eat with the family at the temple and monks would chant to make merit for the deceased. I made it clear I was not there to make merit, but to offer support to the family. Thank God, there were also a number of opportunities to share the gospel with relatives and friends there. Geh was from another region of Thailand so only his mother and another family member came and there were very few people from the community who came. I think all this increased the impact of us Christians being with them in their time of grief. And my prayer is that out of these ashes, God will build something beautiful, that we will have opportunity and be diligent to deepen relationships with this family and see this be a family that embraces the gospel.