We helped start a school and we ended up being part of a village—much like an adopted family.
We did not know anyone in the Thai village when we first came there in 2007. We said we wanted to help put up a daycare center for their young children, and they accepted our offer. We witnessed how the people of the village worked together, despite the rains, to make the school ready for their young ones.
Classes started the same year with two local teachers and 24 students with ages ranging from three to six.
Having the daycare is like taking care of a baby. We were not sure what we wanted to do, but we were excited on the development we see every time we come to the village. Despite the difficulty of maintaining the bamboo walls clean and having to bear with the steel roof that makes the room either too hot (when it is sunny) or too noisy (when it is raining), we saw the enthusiasm in the teachers, children, and their parents, who provided the encouragement we needed to pray more and work harder on the curriculum and the week-by-week lessons we want the kids to learn.
Before the first school year ended, we were able to bring Christmas to the village, befriend the parents of the children as well as the village leaders, who raised enough funds for the daycare’s reconstruction. Again, it was the villagers who worked hard to turn our simple daycare made of bamboo into a modest-looking school made of concrete with a very nice ceiling and clean walls.
During the three years that we worked at the daycare, the villagers have been very kind and accommodating. Whenever we come for a visit, we were usually greeted with friendly smiles, an invitation to dine in a house, or sleep in one of the village-owned guest houses. After this we usually go back home with vegetables, flowers, coffee, or rice, courtesy of the generous villagers.
This Buddhist-animist village knows we are Christians, but they welcomed us because they saw we came to meet a need in their place. And as we meet that need, we were able to build relationships with them, relationships that enabled us to talk with them, pray for them, and tell them about Jesus.
Initially, we told them that we only plan to help them operate the daycare for two years. Since they were not yet ready to do it on their own last year, we recommitted our support for one more year. This extension became our opportunity to be more open in sharing about Jesus and the Bible.
When teams from different countries and churches visit us, we also bring them to the village so that they may also see the people, pray for them, and share the Gospel to them. We believe that as the Lord’s Word is sown in this village, their heart will be opened by God to hear, listen, and understand the message of Jesus’ love and God’s plan of salvation for everyone who believes.
Early this year, we started doing house church in the village. On Sundays when we can come, we talk with the villagers and the Lord leads us to pray with them. We visit the children’s families and pray with them. We sing songs and pray with those who already confessed that they believe in Jesus. We tell stories from the Bible and let the Holy Spirit speak to these people about their sins, their family problems, their beliefs.
We know that our time with helping them in the daycare is done, but the task of leading them to the Lord is just starting.
During this year’s daycare graduation and closing ceremony, we were assured that we will always be welcome in the village. They say that we are family. We pray that will not be long in becoming a reality, that we will all be a family in the Lord.
*Real names withheld to protect our missionaries.
(by Carlos* and Donna*, ACM-trained missionaries to Thailand)
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