Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Land of Smiles

I can't believe that it was almost 18 years ago that I spent 2 months in Thailand with Youth With a Mission. It was an amazing time of formation for me, being fresh out of high school. I changed from a wide-eyed Idaho boy to a wide-eyed Idaho boy with a sense that there is a big world out there that needed Jesus. The Thai people were incredible to be around, and I've never forgotten the experience.

A couple from our outreach team showed true sacrificial love by staying behind in Thailand on a long-term commitment. In that time they've just become the directors of YWAM Thailand. Thanks to Facebook, I've been in a little contact with them, and I'm so excited how far they've come in their ministry to Thailand. God has kept me State-side for the time being, but that doesn't mean I can't support them from afar.

Thailand is about 95% Buddhist, although for them it is very much a cultural identity. To be Thai is to be Buddhist, it is said. However, there is a strong mix of ancestor worship and spiritism as well. There is a sizeable Muslim population in the south, with some occasional breakouts of violence, and few Christians. Thailand has been a hard place for missions for a long time.

It is known for its beauty and its corruption. Thailand immediately conjures up images of beaches, the tsunami of 2004, and human trafficking and red light districts. There have been frequent governmental upheavals. It is know as the "Land of Smiles" because the people are very friendly and hospitable, but it belies a deep need under the surface.

My YWAM friends have called for 40 days of prayer for Thailand. It started at the beginning of this month, but it is never too late to pray. I'm asking for my friends and interested people to remember Thailand in your prayers for the next month or so. God can speak prayer needs to your heart. If you are still wondering about how to pray, a suggestion would be to pray through the Seven Spheres of Influence that shape a society:


I was also referred to Bless Thailand, where they are slowly translating a prayer guide into English. If you've been to another country, you know that it sticks with you. I want the Father's heart for Thailand, and I hope the people there will open their hearts to the love He has for them in this season.

Thanks for praying! Bless you.

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