A couple of weeks ago I went with two friends to visit Nang K. – a Thai-yai woman who has recently come to faith. We went because she had called my friend and told her that she wanted to take down the idols in her house. So we went to pray with her and for her and see if she was really ready to take that step of faith in her new belief in our Lord Jesus.
Faith is a process. For some seasons its pace is quick. At other times slow. But the way in which one comes to believe in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour and grows in that faith is a journey. And journeys take time.
Nang K. had heard the Gospel, responded to the Gospel and believed. But, as in the case of any Thai-yai I’ve seen come to believe, there is a period of time where certain things are still being worked out. The transition from not knowing Jesus but following Buddhism and animism, to eventually full and complete belief in Christ is an amazing process guided by the Holy Spirit. For those who believe, we all experience that turning from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to the power of God, so that we may receive forgiveness for our sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Christ (Acts 26:18). But it our journey – that transition – won’t look the same.
Where we live and how we grew up and what our culture and personality look like, in addition to many other factors, will shape our journeys. God, being the Creator of the world and sovereign over everything, ultimately shapes our journeys. But how might it look for a Thai-yai person?
For a Thai-yai person coming to believe fully in the Lord, they begin to believe that the Eternal God created the world and the entire universe. They begin to believe that Jesus is Lord and that through His death and resurrection, they are forgiven and freed from their sin.
“But what do I do about my relatives who have died? How do I honor them every year? How do I appease the spirits in my house? I don’t need that amulet to protect me anymore? Is it true when you said that, “The Lord is all powerful and greater than everything including any and all spirits?””
Professing one’s faith in Jesus, who alone is God, is a huge deal. A life-changing decision. Getting baptised is an even bigger deal. At baptisms, the Thai-yai in the area where I used to live sing the hymn, “No Turning Back” when the new believer arises from the water, having been raised up with Christ through faith in the power of God (Col. 2:12-14) Raised up and made alive together with Him. Raised up into the new life in Christ.
Each Thai-yai who professes belief in Christ as their Lord and Saviour knows that they’re going against the beliefs of their culture. “To be Thai-yai is to be Buddhist,” they say. So to respond to Jesus’ call by belief? Their life will never be the same. What awaits them in life now? Ostracism from their communities? Persecution in some locations? Discouragement and attacks from Satan? Most certainly.
Assured forgiveness of their sins? A life with Christ without fear of what awaits them after death? Confidence in their salvation? Community in the body of Christ? A Friend, Counsellor, Redeemer, Healer and Lord who is always with them wherever they go and whatever they face? Definitely.
Jesus called Peter and Andrew while they were fishing (Mt 4:18-20), James and John while they were mending their fishing nets (Mt 4:21-22), the Samaritan woman at the well (Jn 4), Saul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), the jailer while he was at work (Acts 16:23-34).
Jesus called them. They responded. They followed. They journeyed with Jesus.
He called that Thai-yai man while he was addicted to opium and serving as the spirit doctor in his village. He called that little girl when she heard the Gospel at a Christmas festival. He called that woman after she knew she had contracted HIV from her husband – before he had died from AIDS. He called that young man when some of his peers believed and started going to church.
Jesus called them. They responded. They followed. They’re journeying with Jesus.
When we arrived at Nang K.’s house we were greeted by her and several of her Thai-yai neighbours, many of whom came inside and sat with us while we talked. The opportunity arose to share about “the Lord who is God,” “the Eternal God,” “the Creator God,” “the One who saves us and frees us from our sins,” “the Lord Jesus Christ,” “the Righteous Judge who is coming again.”
“Yes. I want to take them down. I believe fully in Jesus. Jesus is my Lord.”
Jesus called. She responded. She’s following. She’s journeying with Jesus.
Please pray for Nang K. and others like her in their journey with Jesus. Each new step they take in their journey will face opposition – clearly from the evil one but often from family members and others in their communities. Pray that they would remember God’s truth as they face such resistance and would be witnesses for Christ within their families and communities. Pray that the Thai-yai body of Christ would continue to grow and be sanctified in Christ, reflecting His holiness and living lives of worship to Him alone.