In 1968, my Mum and Dad took my two sisters and me to live in a small village in north-east Thailand called Mahasarakham. My father was in the New Zealand Army, and they were training the Thai Roading Department on how to build highways. We lived there for two and a half years.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of sharing my story with a congregation in the city of Kalasin, where tranzsend works. Kalasin is only about 30 minutes’ drive from Mahasarakham.
You see, that village is the birthplace of my family’s spiritual heritage. My mother and father became Christians there and some readers may remember the story of my Dad’s conversion in a talk I’ve given over the years about global missionaries.
About 20 years ago my younger sister was travelling around Asia en route to the England. She visited Mahasarakham in an attempt to locate the place where we lived and the two girls who’d worked in our house at the time. Unable to find any trace, she left discouraged. Ten years ago, I made the same trip but also had no success.
In December 2008, our family were holidaying in Thailand and decided to give it another go. This time I did a little more pre-trip research. We headed up to Mahasarakham from Bangkok, a six hour drive. We found the compound the New Zealand Army occupied in 1965-1971 and the house we lived in. We even got to go inside the house.
This January, we returned again. My sister and I, along with our families, revisited that old home and once more attempted to find the servant girls who were a part of our lives. They would be in their sixties now.
With much broken English discussion and investigation by the staff at the Mahasarakham Bureau of Roading we experienced a small miracle. After 40 years, we found both servant girls and visited them. Boonlum (Lum, pictured with my sister Tamela in the 1960s and again this year) and Ponpimon (Lot) were full of life and remembered us well. To be sure, I asked them about my Dad and what his name was. Both answered independently, “Truby.” What a reunion.
So why do I share this personal story in World Reach? Well, for starters, while it seems amazing that my parents had to go all the way to Thailand to find Christ, that is what happened. They were introduced into the faith by Canadian CMA Missionaries. Praise God for those who leave their home country to serve him. Who knows who is looking for Christ and where we might find them?
It’s also significant that the Lord has led me back here as leader of our denominational mission. Isaan, of which Mahasarakham and Kalasin are districts, is a very poor part of Thailand but they are a special and proud people. They desperately need the light of Christ in this area where missionaries have struggled for decades to make inroads. I have personal knowledge that Christ’s light does shine and I have recently evidenced the work he is doing through the local church, which tranzsend has been invited to help and support.
I have a dream that, one day soon, I or another Christ-follower will introduce Lum and Lot and their families to him. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a New Zealand Baptist had that privilege?
Last month I invited you to increase your prayer support for Thailand. This month I extend that invitation for you to consider changing your career. We need six new people for Kalasin, Thailand. If you’re aged between 25 and 40, would you consider surrendering your life and work in New Zealand for a life and work in Thailand? Maybe you could be instrumental in seeing Lum and Lot becoming Christ followers.
It won’t be easy, but we need you, God needs you, the people of Isaan need you. Please don’t delay God’s call on your life. Call us or email us, we’d love to have a chat with you. Don’t put it off.