Abbey Crawford – USM – Thailand
Sawadi Ka!!! On May 30, I headed to training with 180 other students going to serve all around the world this summer! On June 4th, me and my two teammates Krissy and Sarah started our journey to Thailand! We landed in Bangkok and were greeted by some of the church members we are working with! We stayed in Bangkok for two days adjusting to the culture and spending time with our supervisor and local M's preparing for the summer. Then we took a 7 hour car ride to Buriram province which is where we will be for 4 weeks.
Random fun stuff: The food in this province is some of the spiciest in the country so we learned really quick how to say “no spice” in Thai! But we are trying to build up our spice tolerance really slowly. LOL! There is a pull up bar outside the church so we have made a goal to be able to do five consecutive pull ups by the time we leave- so far I can do two. One day in Bangkok the streets flooded and so we walked around Bangkok barefoot in 7 inch high water. Last night there were thousands of flying termites that showed up out of nowhere and they were like covering the grounds and you couldn't walk without running into them. That was interesting and we killed a lot of them!
Church of 300: The church in Bangkok that we are working with is called the Church of 300 for Christ. They chose this name because they identified with the Spartans in the movie 300. Just like the Spartans, the church may be small in numbers when comparing to the lostness and brokenness all around them but the victory is not in the numbers but in the Power of God. This church is such a picture of the church in Acts 2! They are truly sacrificial in loving people. The church in the village we are in is a part of 300 for Christ, so once a month a bus of church members comes to Buriram to encourage this tiny church and love them. They then go into the village on Sunday mornings and invite people to come to church and help the elderly who cannot come on their own. They are a picture of the church going to people not expecting people to come to the church.
The Battle: On our second day in Bangkok we went to help with an English class that some local M's use for ministry. Afterward, Krissy and I were speaking with one girl and she was saying some unsettling things and acting very strange. This girl said she was a Pentecostal so we were talking about growing in your walk with the Lord by reading your Bible and she told us that a miracle happened to her and sometimes when she reads her Bible, Satan speaks through her and it scares her. She was also fidgeting and laughing a lot and the more we talked about Jesus, the more visably uncomfortable she was until she fell backward across the room and into the wall. She said something pushed her and she continued to laugh. We both knew something was very off with her and she was under the influence of an evil spirit. Our team saw this as the Lord just opening our eyes to the very real spiritual warfare our team would be facing. Thailand is such a lost place. The people live in fear of evil spirits everywhere. They do anything and everything they can to appease the evil spirits. Pray that the Thai people would come to know the Power that is in Jesus' name!
Fruit: We expected to see great things from the Lord this summer but many people told us it usually takes 7-12 years for a Thai person to trust in the Lord. With this in mind, we did not expect to see much fruit this summer, but God shattered our expectations on the third day we were in the country! The Church of 300 is trying to start up another church about an hour from where we are. We stopped by there during our drive to have lunch and to let the church encourage the believers. A man came who had been seeing how this church loved people so deeply and how every month they came and loved the people of that village. He had been hearing about Jesus from the believers and was seeking the Lord. Sarah and our supervisor shared the gospel with Him again and he decided to follow Jesus!! God showed us that the harvest fields are ready and he wants to work mightily among the Thai people! Pray for this man (we call Him “the principal,” b/c we remember his job not his name). Pray that he would get rid of His idols completely and grow with Jesus! Pray for more harvesters and that people would be obedient to where God leads them!!
Buriram: The people we are staying with are the absolute sweetest!! We are staying in a small house that belongs to the church. We have started making good friends with the kids that hang out around the church. Part of what we are doing is just loving these kids like Jesus because they come from broken homes. We are also teaching them English. This past week, we worked with a pastor and His family that work with the “thinkSMALL Foundation.” Every day we would go into local schools and talk about the dangers of drugs, smoking and alcohol because the youth are at a very high risk here. They use cool magic tricks and illusions to help educate the kids about drugs and they also use the opportunity to share the gospel. (I put a needle through a balloon without popping it.) We went into 5 schools and shared with about 1500 students. We were not able to share the gospel at one high school, but amazingly, God opened the doors for us to share at all Buddhist schools! At one of the schools, God shattered our expectations when an English teacher said she wanted to follow Jesus! Please be in prayer for the English teacher that we would be able to follow up with her. We are the closest church and we are 2 hours from her. Pray that the Lord would grow her walk with Him and she would be serious about her faith in Jesus.
Teaching English: For the next three weeks, we will be going to teach English at a local school for an hour every day. We were quite overwhelmed when we found out we would be teaching classes of 140 students every day! None of us have ever taught English or made lesson plans so we were curious so see how this would turn out but we had been learning a lot about how Jesus multiplies things and we asked Him to multiply our efforts in teaching these kids and make it manageable for us. Yesterday one of the M's in Bangkok we have connections with reached out and sent us some lesson plans and we also found out we would be teaching a different class almost every day of the week so we could reuse the plans. We very clearly saw this as the Lord working and showing us to trust Him because he works in ways we don't always expect!! So please pray for us teaching English and that we would have good relationships with the students and teachers to share the gospel and love them!
The Lord is so good and he has been teaching us so much!!! There is so much power in the name of Jesus!