Here’s the thing…I have been asked as part of my job, to assist in this trip to Thailand that I am on right now. I am just an observer, here to serve the team where they need a hand etc.
What is real tough is knowing where the balance is in terms of my right to speak firmly into some of the actions of the team and how much is just my quirky opinions.
I am sharing stories of incarnational mission, Hudson Tailor being one of the best.
We are staying in a stunning hotel, in house video, mini bar, huge pool, buffet breakfast, door man…etc
Each day we get picked up in an old bomb that does not even belong to the leprosy colony as they can’t afford one, we all climb in the back and roll on down the hwy for 30 minutes until we pull into the colony…a section of land in which the lepers and their families (some of whom are supported by world vision and compassion sponsorship, some of whom are not and try to live off 5bhat a day) We teach them OUR language, OUR games and OUR songs. We eat different food cooked for us, as some don’t like the hot stuff and we eat seperate from the kids.
Having said all that, the pace at which we run with the kids during the day is frantic, when we roll into the car at the end of the day, the flesh says “I am glad for some moments of peace at my hotel!”
But the other workers at the colony are doing this 7 days a week 24 hours a day, why should I get a hotel, I am only doing this for 5 days…??
Are we Aussies not as tough as we make out?
The team I am with are great folks, young crew and a married couple. I just keep wondering how much I can push my ways and thoughts. I am balancing building relationship with them and finding permission to challenge and alienating myself from them…but each morning I am able to lead them in devotions. I am using a Charles Ringma devotional which is taken from the thoughts of Henri Nouwen. I shared a story of poverty and incarnational ministry on day one, and when I had finished it felt odd, sitting there at the buffet…we went back to our food.
I say this not to have a go at anyone, but rather to suggest this is the very thing we do each night as we watch the news, the Compassion ads on TV etc, we switch off and say, “Could someone please pass the roast lamb down?”
Managed to finally get a lift back to Bangkok tomorrow. I am coming home a day early, so I needed to get my own way back from Surin. It is the New Year in Thailand, (Sonkran) a massive festival in which everyone travels out here to the country. We are about as far as Albany is from Perth, but one guy said it took him 12 hours to get here from Bangkok. The train was fully booked, the busses were all full, I managed to talk my way into a lift back in the back of a guys ute! Long way with not a seat! But is sounds like an adventure!
POST SCRIPT – He put his mother in the back, his wife and kid in the xtra cap and me up the front! I did argue…I DID! But they would not hear of it, he drove me right back to my hostel. 6.5 hours.
8 thoughts on “Incarnational Mission?”
wow, crazy to read that you are in the place that I love so much.
I like what you had to say… in fact I would find it a little boring to be there and to not be in the “nitty gritty” but then again my first missions trip there wasn’t that disimilar looking back … its probably done that way to ease people into it, which might not necessarily be the best thing.
Don’t beat yourself up over the fact you need some peace and quiet after being with the kids from the leprosy colony, satan would love you to feel quilty, look at it in the positive – you must have put in way over and above for the love of Jesus for those kids and Jesus would have you rest and be still to be able to give out again the next day isn’t that what Jesus did, went to a quiet place to pray and reflect. And isn’t it in the quiet reflection of the day’s events that God speaks to you with direction, ideas and discernment etc. What you guys are doing is fantastic no matter how small or large, those people don’t feel alone and that is one hunger people have that needs to be filled. God Bless and protect you all while your there.
That sort of stuff has always tugged on my heart!
Wouldnt it be more beneficial to the group if they did experience REAL Thailand?
I dont agree with the whole short term mission trip where you come in for a few weeks and then leave. If you cant do long term mission, make your short term count towards something more long term (and i dont just mean saving people! – there is so much more to mission than that).
I think you should speak out about it scott…speak with conviction and it SHOULD go well 🙂
Me again. Just a great site to check out to help keep you fired up for God is David Ravenhill it is his blogger. Also a great audio by David called Worship can be found at Brownsville Revival Sermons. He is 65yrs old and a God fearing, Jesus centered man. Check out his Pharoah versus the Father statements. Bye and keep on being fired up for Jesus.
That contrast between what we can afford to do and what is really going on that accompanies short term missions is something i personally struggle with. I think often the premise of these short term mission trips is that we are there for the benefit of those we ‘minister’ to. If you follow that premise, then kicking back at the hotel etc is something you may have earned and you deserve for the good works you have done. Tha’s the bit that unsettles me.
To my mind the short term mission trip is almost purely for the benefit of those being sent. The benefit felt by the recepients of short term mission is nice but often quite minimal. How much can you achieve in a week or 10 days etc? I feel these short term trips
are a great opportunity to help us ‘western’ christians gaim an often much needed reality check. 7 days living in a bamboo hut and eating rice? Big deal. Sure you may get uncomfortable but you can fully experienced the road walked by others whilst show love by experience their suffering that we can never really understand. I find it a struggle to think that Jesus would drive in and drive out of where he was ministering, didn’t he eat and stay with the poor and oppressed of his time?
I love the Thai water festival! (as long as you keep your mobile phone in a plastic bag). The Thai people in the area we were staying last year seemed to particularly love soaking the whities (us) everytime we left out hotel room. And they would even chuck water at each other INSIDE shopping centres!
Good on you mate! I like the hitch hiking part, sounds like fun!!!! We should go out hitch hiking sometime…. that’ll be cool Hacket.
I am home now. It was a very good experience.
I was sharing with the team on the last morning at our buffet breakfast (!!) that the highlightand most memorable point of the trip was the toughest (and wettest) point and maybe in some ways the ‘hardest’ point. It was on the night previous, we were all packed in to the back of the old broken down ute which we were driven to and from our hotel in every day. It had started to rain, I mean like tropical rain, we were covered in garbage bags and plastic sheets. We were sore all over from running and volleyball and endless re-runs of “head shoulders knees and toes”. We were very tired, it was one of our team’s 22nd birthday and we say and laughed and told stories all the way back in the pouring rain.
Where else would I have rather been than drenched in the back of an old ute with a bunch of new friends doing our best to learn how to serve God in another culture, – nowhere!
Sure, I have some big questions about some issues;
– Is not our contrast in living arangements, similar to what Hudson Taylor objected to in China? That the rich westerners retreat to their wealthy compound and eat and drink and swim (and blog!) in western ways?
– Should we not have spent more time previous to our arrival actually asking the local leaders what it was that they required of us? Offering simply to come and do and go what and where they wanted us.
– We gave our time and some of our money, but did this really hurt us? Was this trip a sacrifice? I feel that just getting out of bed each day and finding the physical, emotional, spiritual and financial resources to go another day for these workers in the leprosy colony was struggle and a sacrifice. They do this every day, sometimes endlessly without break for months on end. Could we have slept on the floor in a hall for 5 nights? Maybe a tent? It was even suggested by one of the leaders that “you visitors need to get away for your own strength, you will wear out if you stay here, the children will never let you go”.
This may be true, and I appreciate their concern. But they have to do it every day. Some were so worn out they were talking about having a year out just to recover.
– Was teaching english so it becomes easier for westerners that visit? I tell you it certainly would be! But again, this is about us, not them. Was there some other thing we could have invested into that would have been of more benifit to them?
– Shopping in Bangkok…This can be addictive! Before and after the time in Surin (Colony) we had a day or more in one of the cheap shopping hubs of the world. (In fact some nights we would wander into the local markets of Surin as well).
I think that some discipleship/teaching around the issues of consumerism would not have gone astray. In one shopping centre hung a series of massive neon lit signs calling out to the ‘consumer spririt’ – “Shopping is a LIFESTYLE EXPRESSION. Not just about trends or a certain look, fashion involves a whole range of attitude, mood and personality”.
As I moved from one shopping centre into an ajoining one there stood a massive sign “MORE” to encourage me to continue my quest for consumer satisfaction.
Consumerism is the fastest growing “religion” our world knows. It’s converts and followers are from no specific social, economic or cultural group, the poor and the rich are converts to consumerism.
At one point I was asked by one of my fellow travellers, “Did you buy anything here?”
“No I didn’t”
“I did not see anything I need” (I needed a new pair of shoes)
“But there are lots of cheap t-shirts here”
“I don’t need a t-shirt”
“But you can never have enough t-shirts”
The contrast between the great need in the colony and our endless conumption in the city was too much for me to bear at times. Sometimes I just needed to seperate myself from the shops and sit outside and wait for the others.
I say all this not either to judge or to elevate myself to some godly high, but to emphasise how blinding and subtle the consumer bug can be. Sure we had flashes of generosity, the offering bag was sent around and I think as I place in some paper money, “This will be the biggest offering they have seen for a while!”. (The reality is that it was probably AUS$150 less than the biggest offering I ever gave at a Hillsong Conference offering)
The group generously bought a fridge for the colony from the funds they brought with them from their church, awesome!
My work paid for all my expenses, so no real sacrifice here, no pain.
The kids with no Compassion or World Vision sponsorship live off 5 baht a day. I changed AUS$5 at the airpot on the way home to buy some food. I got 140 baht for my AUS$5. Work that out!
I brought 2 shopping bags of new clothes donated from Pumpkin Patch, nice – but they could not have sold them, they had broken zips etc (we fixed them all) so it was no big cost to Pumpkin Patch or to me.
My point? I guess I just felt a strong contrast between the people we ministered to and ourselves, particularly in the area of use of finance and the way we consume.
My confession – I had a day to myself before flying out. I thought I would do a half day shopping looking for shoes and some gifts for my family, then the other half wandering around some of the poor areas and in some local markets near where Ash and Ange Barker live from UNOH.
I looked for hiking shoes and found ones that were the same price as in Perth, so I bought a pair of $50 runners and 3 pair of socks, some local woven handbags and a pair of pants for my kids and wife. I was on my way out of the shops when I say a small monocular (like binoculars, only smaller and lighter – good for hiking! I bought it $10) Then I saw a Sony shop…then I realised I was enjoying this feeling of spending money and I wanted to shop more and MORE and MORE…The bug had it’s hold on me, seriously, buying stuff is addictive, once you start it gets a hold.
I ran from the shopping, (having spent nothing at the Sony shop!) used public transport to take me to Klong Toey markets and saw how the local lived and shopped…different.
Consumerism is addictive, subtle and dangerous. It makes me focus on me, it tricks me and confuses me between what a “Want” is and what a “need” is. It makes me forget about people in places like Surin leprosy colony that have no car, no fridge, no clothes, who have experienced times so hard they have lived off little more than a bananna a day for months at a time, people who sleep on the floor of a hot small store room.
This is about me, I know it might come over as critical of our whole team.
Honestly these guys were sooo great. We all got on so brilliantly. They are great servants of God.
I have read more and thought more about these issues, I never once expect the team to suddenly have the same revelations I have been having in these thoughts. But I do hope at least that they (and others) might read some of my thoughts here and be challenged, and challenge me back on some of these thoughts. Just because I think some things does not make me right.