Saturday, July 16, 2005

More Thailand thoughts

This picture is a collage of the Sunday Morning Christian celebration service and a couple other winners.

Much of the last day in Thailand was spent briefing the Vision Team Members how to answer the question, "So, how was your trip to Thailand?" Dave warned the kids that folks back in the States would have absolutely nothing to relate to when attempting to understand what the team had experienced. Dave prepared the kids to expect very short attention spans on the part of those listening to Vision Team adventures. There is just no way for folks to imagine what is being conveyed.

As a team leader the best way to sum up the entire Thailand experience was verbalized in a testimony given by Clark Perry at the Karen jungle village Christian church service. In paraphrase Clark expressed; "I didn't know what I expected when I came [to your village]. But what I found were 'on fire' Christians who knew more scripture than us, understood the meaning of the scripture better and understand what freedom in Christ is better than us. It puts us to shame." When the service concluded the village pastor did not pray for his poor small church, but he prayed that the Vision Team would gain in understanding and grace in their life in Christ. In salutation he looked forward to heaven where we would all have
no language barriers, just sweet fellowship.

Dave explained that the prison of animal sacrifice, spirit worship, and Buddhism gives the Thais a formula to follow to get to heaven or at least to an elevated level of reincarnation. If a white person offers the plan of Christian salvation to a Thai they will quickly accept it then ask for the new formula of works to follow to heaven. That is why missionaries spend 3 years laying out the gospel chronologically so that the Thais understand unequivocally that Christianity is a relationship, not merely a lifestyle. When a Thai grasps the gravity of the message, the freedom from works to get to heaven, they cannot clean up their homes quick enough, they cannot memorize scripture fast enough, they cannot walk 12 miles through the jungle to the the next village with the Good News soon enough. They cannot contain themselves with their new found freedom in Christ.

What so gripped the Vision Team was the fact that since the Thais from the Karen village had never been to "Church" they were totally and absolutely unencumbered by having to conform to a "Christian Lifestyle" immediately following a verbal decision for Christ. Bottom line, all the Vision Team saw was the freedom of Christ living through the Karen village people. There were no human rules or traditions tacked on, just a fresh, exciting new life in Christ.

Even though the teens had heard this 'sermon' dozens of times it came to life when they saw and experienced it through the lives of those in the village. "I get it. I finally get it."

This understanding of who we are in Christ may have been made possible for some of the team ONLY by being placed in this environment after such a great investment of money, time, effort and prayer.

Thank you to all who supported this effort that so revolutionized the lives and understanding of all fifteen Vision Team members.

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