Chiang Mai Outreach #2
Friday November 23rd.
We arrived in Mae Sot last night after a long drive. We spent the night with a local foundation called Outpour Ministries. I already can tell that I love this little city. The vibe here is much different than Chiang Mai. I feel like it’s a little less chaotic and it has a much higher Muslim and local Thai community than the international touristy feel of Chiang Mai. This morning we divided into two groups- one team went and had breakfast at a local restaurant called Lucky Tea that’s run by two Muslim sisters. The other group went on a prayer walk and spent time observing the city around them and praying for people as they passed, then the groups switched. It’s amazing seeing how different life is for people around the world. Then we drove to the Mae La refugee camp in the afternoon.
As soon as we arrived at the camp we were greeted with such welcome arms and warm smiles. I couldn’t be farther from home but I felt a peace like I was home. We spent time looking around the Bible school we were staying at and were told we were free to go out and meet people if we wanted. I was really excited to meet someone so Andrea, Morgan, and I went outside and not long after stepping out the door we were greeted by one of the students. He told us he was coming from Burma to attend school and he had left his family behind there. It was his second year at the school and when he finishes he hopes to go back into his country and be a missionary to his people in their times of troubles. He walked us deeper into the camp to show us the dorms that the students stay in and to introduce us to a group of his classmates.
When we got back I spent a while playing with the children. We drew pictures, played with each other’s hair, and played games. It was amazing seeing how despite the earthly language barriers we have as people, that the love of Christ knows no boundaries and is able to overcome all and allowed us to interact with one another joyfully.
Through all the eye opening experiences of the day, by far what stood out to me was the evening worship service and choir practice that we were invited to attend. The Bible school has a huge choir! They sang for us, had two of their students share testimonies with us, and they had also asked that Dan would share a message for them. Then after the worship service was over they proceeded to have their normal choir practice and invited us to do our drama for them. I stayed for the whole choir practice. I was so amazed at how they sing with their whole heart and lift up praise to our God. Seeing how despite their struggles and difficult times they’ve been through, they still can worship God knowing he is in control of all and holds all things in his hand made me really reconsider where I place my trust, comfort, and joy.
- My prayer for the day: God I’m so thankful to be here and to have my eyes opened to my brothers and sisters in Christ. I pray you will use me as an instrument to touch at least a few lives. I pray that you will continue to do the miraculous works here and change the hearts of many. Thank you for these people, please bless and comfort them. Amen.
Saturday November 24th.
Every moment here I am absolutely in awe of the work God is doing in the midst of chaos and broken people. This camp has been a life changer for me and I pray I will NEVER forget it. The generosity, happiness, and kindness is enough to knock me off my feet. Seeing the constant smiles and waves from people I’ve never met brings me so much joy. It shocks me that they’re doing so much to serve us by feeding us so well when they have so little and when we’re the ones who are coming into their home as strangers and foreigners.
This morning our team broke into 3 groups and led classes for the students who were learning English. Hannah, Jarrod, Claudia, and I joined Dan’s group while he led. After class some of the students offered to take us to this area farther up on the mountain called the prayer tower where people are welcome to go and spend a few days and nights in solitude and just be with the Lord. While we were there the students and us all went around and shared pieces of our testimonies. Hearing the stories of these people blew my mind. It’s insane to me that the world knows so little about the struggles of these people groups. A lot of them have separated or torn apart families and have been close to war, death, and chaos. One girl broke down crying while telling us this was never her dream and that she never imagined she’d end up studying the Bible but God knows best and now she has the opportunity to be a missionary to her family who doesn’t know God- especially her brother who is lost and hopeless and involved in drugs. And many of their stories were similar. One of the guys explained to us that sometimes he cries out to God asking him why he has had so much hardship in his life and asks him to take it from him but he’s come to the realization that God knows what he’s doing. He knows that if he didn’t live the life he’s been given he would not know God in the same way and that through his struggles he’s only come to know God even better.
After spending time in the prayer tower I took time to reflect on my life and asking myself where I can look back and instead of seeing pain and hardship I can look for the ways God has used that to shape me into the person I am today. Regardless of our situations we should seek the peace of God and have thankful hearts instead.
Being here in a place where people are not allowed to build permanent structures so they live in small bamboo huts even though they’ve been here for thirty years teaches me that things are temporary, this world is temporary and this world is not my home. I think one of my biggest take aways is that through all of this I have a job to do- we all do. We need to support and love ALL our brothers and sisters in Christ and offer as much hospitality and generosity as Christ did for us. We shouldn’t just love the people around us that are “easy” to love. But we also have an obligation to these people who are seemingly forgotten and overlooked- we must share their stories of oppression and hardship with the world because we have the freedom to leave and do so, while they do not. We can’t forget them because their stories and lives are just important as ours.
-My prayer: God, I pray that your will be done in the lives of the people here. I pray for the people in Burma, both the oppressors and the oppressed, that you will work in their lives mightily and reveal yourself to them. I ask that no matter what these people will see you in all that they’ve been through and that you have a plan in all of it. I pray that they will continue to be bold in your name. And I pray that you will continue to keep their spirits up and bring them joy in their situation and that the world will learn about their stories. Amen.