Eyes of faith
A reading of the book of Acts can often lead the reader to believe that the series of events recorded occur over a period of a few months, not more than a few years. As much as this letter captures the account of the first century church, it is largely based around the lifetime of a man named Saul of Tarsus (Paul) and includes the accounts of his three missionary journeys and the spread of “The Way” within the Roman Empire.
Through the sovereign will of God, history molded itself so that the climate of the times suited the spread of the good news, divinely and perfectly orchestrated.
For over 150 years, the freedom to preach and proclaim the gospel in Thailand has been enjoyed by mission agencies and missionaries from all over the world. The fruits of their labor in church planting, Bible translation and raising up a generation of Thai Christians is evident today to the glory of God. However, there are only around 500,000 Christians (0.74%) among Thailand’s population of over 65 million people.
In some ways, this picture I took recently reflects the nature of mission work in Thailand. There is this wonderful, large, open window of opportunity to come and sow the seed of the gospel in a land that is not hostile but open to the good news, and yet those who seek to enter through it are faced with the challenges of a difficult language, strong links between nationalism and a predominant religion, and the receptive yet closed hearts of those who need the message of life that Christ brings.
We who labor presently, however, hold on to the promises of Him who sends and knocks on the closed doors of hearts. With the eyes of faith, we look to a vibrant, growing, flourishing, Thai-led church in many of the communities in which we work—something which is not always easily visible at first glance.
If I told you that there sometimes is a cool and refreshing breeze that blows through the tiny gap that exists in between the window and the wall, would you believe me?
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for”. — Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)