Twenty years ago I was part of something that became pretty incredible. It started with listening to God and a hunger for pizza.
I was on a Discipleship Training School (DTS) outreach through Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Montana. We had two different teams, and my group was in Chanthaburi, Thailand during Dec/Jan of '91/'92. It was a great group of people - single men and women, married couples, and families that were all strangers a few months ago, coming together to learn what it means to serve God overseas.
Chanthaburi is a neat city, but it is small enough that it didn't have any Western food outlets at the time (No McDonalds or KFC sadly - or maybe not). We enjoyed the Thai diet of rice, vegetables, fish and chicken, but comfort foods are magnified when a few thousand miles from home.
One day a few of my teammates really had a craving for pizza. We had a few translators with us, and somehow they found out about an Italian restaurant in town. They hailed a taxi and made it there for lunch.
I heard the pizzas were interesting - no tomato sauce, so they improvised with ketchup.
However, the owner spoke English and was intrigued by the foreigners visiting his establishment. Chanthaburi is not a hot spot for tourism, so we did stand out. It turned out he was quite the businessman, and he also owned a disco in another part of the city. It also turned out that we had a group of musicians in our team - some of these guys were sick!
The businessman was excited, and asked if we could play for his disco. No big deal, right?
Our show date was New Year's Eve, 1991.
The musicians in our group enjoyed scouring the markets to see what Thai music tastes were like. At that time they ran towards Credence Clearwater Revival, Phil Collins, and Richard Marx. Interesting.
They put together a set of songs from these artists plus some up-tempo worship choruses. A few of the songs lent themselves to a horn section. We had a really good sax player. Then there was me. I brought my trumpet, but I was more concert-trained. Where was my sheet music? I muddled through, and they humored me and let me play with them! We had three guitarists, but they were so good one switched to drums and another to bass to fill out our band. We were christened - "Lightforce"!
December 31st came, and we drove up in taxis to the disco location.
That's when our leader's chin hit the ground.
He had been on another outreach to Chanthaburi about three years prior. He remembered being on this street - the town's small red-light district. He knew the disco.
Their group had prayed that this disco would be used to glorify God. That His praises would be lifted in this place.
We were there to do exactly that.
We serve an amazing God, who knows what is coming three years down the road when we are praying over a building in a foreign city, that something will happen. He can use even a craving for pizza. Shoot, our leader wasn't originally scheduled to come to Thailand with us. He joined up as a co-leader to help out as our other leaders were first-timers as far as leading an outreach. If he hadn't joined us, we wouldn't know that God was cooking up something.
Something greater than pizza even.
|That's me on the left rocking the peg-leg jeans. And I still have hair!|