Baptism is a big milestone on the faith journey. In Thailand, the journey to faith comes with roadblocks from family, culture and society. Some say when a Thai person becomes a Christian they cross through a bamboo wall. The country is overwhelmingly Buddhist giving the perception to Thai people that they are born into who they are. Being Thai means being Buddhist. There are some who have families that put curses on them when they become a Christian, they will go home and the family is sacrificing a chicken with superstitious intent. The church has to fight the notion that Christianity is a foreign religion.
The journey to faith can take weeks to a couple of years after a Thai person is introduced to the idea of Jesus Christ. I want to share a few stories to illustrate a life to Christ from some recent baptisms at two camps with the church.
First, I’ll give the story of one of my students from the English School. The English school gives people a chance to look at Christianity without pressure. I’ll name my student Steve to protect his identity. During the summer term, he started to hang around the church more with his friends. He was interested in Christianity, but wasn’t ready to jump in yet. He had tried Buddhism and other religions and was left unsatisfied. They did not help him when he had problems, so why would Christianity be different?
Steve kept asking questions. Finally, one of the Thai Christians told him to test God. They said, give God one month, and if your life is not better after 30 days, then you can forget about Christianity. Steve took God up on the challenge.
As always, God answered the challenge. Steve told me that with God he finally got guidance to his problems. When he would try to do the things other religions asked to bring solutions, they would only be superstitious and didn’t give solutions. He ended up thinking more about his problem and not solving it. When he prayed to God, he received clarity and wisdom on how to overcome the problem. As an 18-year-old, we often don’t know what to do, but with God, we can get access to his wisdom.
Steve couldn’t resist God now, and he gave his life to Jesus. A few weeks later, he was baptized at the youth retreat up along the river in Ampawa.