It has been two weeks since our team landed in Bangkok, Thailand. Yes, Bangkok is hot, humid and has an endless flow of chaotic traffic. By God’s grace our team is learning the ropes of this foreign city, and our chances at survival are looking pretty good! We have conquered jet lag, learned to navigate our way back and forth from the English school, and even began to find some of our favorite street vendors. It is evident that the Lord is making our path level and protecting us at every dangerous street corner.
It’s still early into our trip, but already we have seen so many things to praise God. Specifically, the students and staff at Santisuk English School. Our mission here is primarily to plant seeds in the hearts of our students. We hope to achieve this by teaching them stories about Jesus in the English language during class and spending time with them outside of class time. While we were preparing for this trip we thought that most of our students would be university students, but we have quickly found that many of our students are working full-time and a few are even in high school. Despite this unforeseen twist, our whole team has been able to create great relationships with our students so far.
Together, our team is teaching a combined 49 students in seven different English classes. Within the classroom, our method of reaching students with the good news is one that requires patience and trust. Each level of English consists of 15 class periods over the span of four weeks. During most class periods, students will read a Bible story of Jesus performing a miracle or teaching and then they will answer questions about what they read. As a class we then discuss the questions which gives students an opportunity to organize their thoughts into English as they ponder the life and teachings of Jesus. During their fourth English course (Level Four), the students are required to have a one hour interview to test their English conversation skills. During the final part of the interview, one of the local believers who is fluent in Thai will share the gospel with them in Thai. By their Level Four class, most students have enough of an understanding to obtain a grasp of what the gospel means. If they have questions, they can always ask question in Thai for a better understanding. The ministry is well designed and it has been a privilege to teach English and engage with our students, but our team in learning about all the patience and trust that it takes to evangelize across a language barrier in a foreign nation.
What has been truly powerful to see is how people from different cultures with different languages can interact and bond on such a deep level. Our students have taken us out for meals and sightseeing on many occasions, and each experience has been a joy. It’s clear that God is working in our relationships with our students, the local believers, and in the hearts of this team.
Though the Lord has given us people of peace, willing to treat us like family without knowing us, the communication barrier has been a profound obstacle. It’s an obstacle that is rooted in our sin and a consequence that manifested soon after the creation of the world. The words of Genesis 11 give insight into why:
They they said, “Come let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the earth…Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.
Genesis 11:4, 7-8
The weight of our pride is a harsh reality. “But God, being rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4) interrupts and redeems the consequences of our pride through Jesus Christ. He uses this dispersion of people, this language barrier, not only to humble us but also to glorify Himself. This separation of people by language has given us the opportunity to come to Thailand to share Jesus. We can use our ability to speak English to share the gospel. What separated us in Genesis can be used to glorify His name and not ours. As Revelation 7:9 says:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples, and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.
Yes, God redeems our pride in Genesis 11 by using each culture and people and language to give himself Glory! And what a miracle it is to see two cultures speak in two different languages to worship the same God. Here in Thailand, we have experienced a small glimpse of what is to come.
Please pray more people of Thailand to join the celebration of Jesus. Pray for them to enter the Kingdom of God, so as a great multitude, we may enjoy him forever, together.
- Ben Hershey