Israel & Thailand
Recently I had the wonderful experience of a holiday with my parents in Israel. It was great to see many places where Jesus had walked, spent time in ministry by the Sea of Galilee, sites in Jerusalem where our Lord probably spent some of his last moments before being crucified. One of the loveliest places was the Garden Tomb where it’s suggested Jesus was buried and then Mary had her first encounter with the risen Lord Jesus, thinking He was the gardener. These were precious moments.
However, for me, the most exciting part of the experience was spending time with friends who are Arab Israeli Christians. The husband is the pastor of the Baptist Church in Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine. What interested me was how much more like the Thai culture their culture is than that of western countries. For example, the prayer meeting was scheduled for 6pm but people started to arrive anywhere between 6 and 7pm. We drank coffee outside until everyone was ready to start the prayer meeting. After the meeting started, more people arrived and everyone was free to come and go. Yet, plenty of heartfelt worship to God and sincere prayer took place. There were differences, but the relational, warm climate culture was in many ways similar to that of Thailand. I couldn’t help but yearn for Thais to know and understand that Jesus was not a Western religious teacher and that His first followers didn’t come with the Western world view and cultural baggage that many of us carry and then have to try and chip away at. It’s great that we have such a diverse team here in Thailand, people from Brazil, and from other parts of Asia for example, who have a non-western world view. I felt I wanted to bring my Arab Israeli friends back with me to share with Thais and to then take my Thai friends to Israel to meet the church there. Maybe at some point in the future this would be possible, but for now, I am all the more keen to try and understand the biblical message as seen through the eyes of Christians who still live in the part of the world where Jesus walked while on this earth, and see how it can relate to the people of Thailand.