As we make our way through the hill country and winding rural roads of the northern reaches of our province, the roads are lined with rolling fields covered in rows of cassava, sugar cane and rice. It is the middle of rice harvesting season, and people are scattered throughout the rice fields bringing in the yields of this season’s harvest. We stop at many small farms along the way. We tell the people about a God who loves them exactly the way that they are. They don’t have to do anything to earn this love from Him. This is a notion that is very hard for them to grasp. Their culture has been immersed in a system of merit, or earning your salvation, safety, and good standing with the spirits, for thousands of years.
We’ve been traveling to many different farms for about 5 hours when we make our way up one very high hill. The crest of the hill gives way to the mountains of Nong Ruea. Their beauty and jungles rise up over the hill country below. On the way down the hill, we turn right down a narrow dirt path and begin meandering down this tiny path through the overgrown edges of the fields. Eventually we turn into a tree covered area that is shading a farmhouse and family taking a break from the hot sun and seemingly never ending harvest. Next to the family and their mat is a large brahman cow, with her pronounced humpback, and her newborn calf. As we approach the family, they get up and spread out more grass mats on the ground around them next to the cow and begin to bring us out many different seasonal favorites.
They place a few plates of sour tamarinds that have been fried and another plate of fermented fish paste made from the fish in their rice ponds. After we eat our fill, they bring out sticky rice and stir fried basil and chicken smothered in hot peppers. I eat until I literally can’t force any more food into my mouth, then they bring out twice as much food and insist that I eat more! During our meal together, one of our local team members, Mae Lam, begins to share her testimony. She also shares about how, as followers of Jesus, we are the light of the world because Jesus Himself lives inside of us. It’s what we talked about earlier this morning during our weekly discipleship training.
We stay and talk under the trees as the afternoon sun makes its way toward the mountains. The members of the family present are the grand-father, grand-mother, and their daughter-in-law. Their son, the husband of the woman sitting with us, comes out to greet us, but throughout our meeting, he is distant, going in and out of his house where his teenage son is hanging out. He comes out every so often to check up on us, fill up our cups with water, and see if he can help with anything. Earlier, when we arrived, the Holy Spirit highlighted His interest in this man to me. Throughout our meeting, God continues to teach and show me more and more about this man. After talking and eating more than our fill, we begin praying for the entire family. The man comes back to our mat, and I tell him that God has been speaking to me about him. I begin to share with him how the Lord showed me that he has been severely struggling with addictions to alcohol and drugs. The Lord also shows me that this man lives in a constant state of torment and depression every moment of his life and that he doesn’t even know why he is still living. I continue to share with him the things that I am hearing in my heart for him. The Lord tells him that He is his Daddy, and that He loves him exactly the way that he is. Jesus tells Him that he doesn’t have to try hard to fix himself or change his behavior to gain God’s favor. He is pleased with him just being who he is. He falls to the ground in tears and says that it is all true. His wife, sitting next to him, and with tears in her eyes, confirms these things as reality. As we lay our hands on him and pray over him, God continues to prophecy over him. He speaks of cleaning this man from the inside out, and raising him up to be a leader within the community of believers. Like a wild fire, every member of the family comes into the circle for prayer, and our Daddy continues to pour out truth and love into all of the members of the family. After we finish praying for the entire family, we hug and love on them as we get back into the car and wind our way back towards the city. At our house meeting on Sunday, the whole family shows up! This brother comes forth and surrenders his life to Jesus and is baptized. He has been set free since then, and is stepping into the reason that God created him.
I just want to say that we are not missionaries. We are ordinary people who have been adopted by an amazing Father, and we do our best every moment of our lives to live in that reality. The world around us, our family, neighbors, co-workers, cashiers, and so on has been given an opportunity to see Jesus face to face today. You are their opportunity. He is love. We aren’t waiting on Him to do something, it’s already been done. He’s just waiting on us. God bless you all as you go out and destroy hell and introduce an orphan world to their Daddy!