Sometimes we ask, “was all that effort worth it?” Well, since you asked, here is a story that highlights my feelings on our six years in Thailand. The short version is: Yes, It was so worth it! The long version follows. “I am too old to change” she told him. One of our best friends in Thailand from the very beginning, Simon, repeated this story to us time and again. He told us more than once how he desperately wanted his family to know God. As a teenager, Simon came to know Jesus and began following him. When he shared his story with his parents, they agreed that God is real. They intellectually assented that God was the way to go and even supported him in his faith—something rare among Thai families. The social norm in Thailand dictates that families shun Christian converts. Our friend’s parents just couldn’t fully come to know God. For them, they said they were too old to change. In Thailand, like much of the world, the culture and religion are inextricably linked. The Buddhist worldview shapes every aspect of how people live. So to be nearing retirement, a Thai person looking at Christianity as the way to go has to weigh completely changing all of who they are. They are not simply adding Jesus to their life and gaining a positive outlook. They are taking on a new understanding of how to live. For Simon’s parents, the thought of changing at this point in their life was daunting. No, for them, it was impossible to change. Fast forward five years. Ovarian cancer struck Simon’s mom, and our friend carried a heavy heart for his mom’s health and her soul. The diagnosis was bleak as cancer hits hard in the villages of Thailand. What could Simon do? The church we led quickly came around him in prayer and emotional support. Simon’s anguish doubled as he lived in Bangkok far from his hometown and parents in the north of Thailand. We joined him in the prayer that his family would come to know God and soon. But the distance made us feel more than helpless. Coincidently, at the same time of her illness, Our Home Chapel had a team of leaders and youth going north for a youth camp. I hoped we might have an opportunity to visit Simon’s mom while in the same province. We did, because she came to the hospital in the provincial capital, Chiang Mai (only three hours from their village) where the national youth camp was held. The day before camp began; Simon went up early to visit with his family. Once again, he gave his heartfelt plea that his mom know God. In all of this God was working on her heart. Incredibly, what seemed impossible for years became reality that night. His mom, through many tears decided to give her heart to Jesus. Her future was more uncertain than ever, but now her life was in Jesus’ hands. The next evening, our team went over for a visit with Simon and his mom. We sat around doing what friends do in Thailand, eating snacks and shooting the breeze. We teased Simon about girls, talked about life in Thailand. Oh, and his mom loved getting to see pictures of Ellie. What Thai person didn’t want to see our cute tow head—a small minority in their country. Before we left, the OHC team asked to pray with Simon’s mom. We gathered around her to lay hands on her and pray. At this, one of the mom’s (what we called the older ladies) in the church put her hands on Simon’s mom’s abdomen and began to pray with fervor. As I listened to her pray in Thai, I felt God stirring. But we wouldn’t know if anything happened for some time as Simon’s mom had just come from the hospital that morning. The doctors gave her an updated diagnosis and treatment plan. She would not come back for another month. The next time she showed up to the hospital four weeks later, the doctors decided to run the blood work one more time before beginning treatment. To their shock and disbelief, the cancer was gone. There was not even a trace that the cancer had been there. Simon’s mom was released with a clean bill of health that day. God did the impossible. Jesus intersected her life far after the point in which she thought she could change. As I reflected over the past few days, I had this one thought. This is why Jesus gave his life—that people could be made whole in body and soul. Furthermore, this is why we gave our life to go to Thailand. Stories like this make it all worth it to leave behind the comforts of our home, family and friends to invest in the lives of people who do not know God. God is the God of the possible—even when we are convinced it is impossible.
Do you have any stories of God doing the impossible?