My trip to Thailand with Bread & Life International was an absolute awe-inspiring experience, and will be one, which I am sure I will look back on with very fond memories.
I went onto this trip seeing it as an opportunity to grow and lay down firm foundations in my faith before beginning university. I knew that through it I would be very blessed, but also knew it would give me the chance to bless those who are less fortunate than myself, and so I approached the trip with the mentality of allowing God to use me in any way according to his will. There were many times when we faced challenges both as a team and as individuals, and we often had to step out of our comfort zones.
During the first part of the trip, we went to the rural areas of Thailand, visiting villages up in the mountains and refugee camps to distribute resources and food, and to hold medical clinics and have children’s ministry. However, on the day we were to go into the refugee camp we were denied entry due to a problem with our permit. Thus we waited for several hours, unsure whether we would be allowed in. However, that time was given to us by God to prepare our hearts for what we were about to do in our mission. We had a time of worship and Pastor Ricky gave a message on Elijah and Elisha crossing the River Jordan, and how Elisha seeks a double portion of his master’s spirit. When Elijah is taken up to heaven, Elisha picks up Elijah’s fallen cloak and strikes the water of the Jordan with it, causing it to divide. Elisha performs his first miracle through an act of faith! This message really spoke to me. Earlier on in the day I was given the opportunity to give my very first message in a few days time, but due to a lack of confidence and experience, I turned down the offer. However, Pastor Ricky mentioned that there are those who want the gift of healing, but who do not stretch out their hands and pray for the sick, and there are those who want the gift of teaching, but who are afraid to go up and teach when given the opportunity. “Faith” is belief in action, and Elisha had to pick up the cloak and strike the water with it in order to perform his first miracle. This encouraged me to be more bold and face the challenge of giving a message, which I did later on in the trip. After Pastor Ricky’s message, not only did one of our team members re-dedicated his life to the Lord, but we found out that we were allowed to enter the refugee camp. Just as Elijah and Elisha crossed the River Jordan, we crossed the borders, into the refugee camp to continue our mission!
Throughout the trip we met many wonderful people. Pastor Moses was a humble man who teaches in a Bible school up in the mountains. The students have a simple life. They have no Internet or electricity, just the Bible and the Holy Spirit. In contrast, in the UK we have beautiful Churches and magnificent Cathedrals that cost a lot of money to maintain, and which after this experience, I believe are probably unnecessary for serving God. After his wedding, so was Pastor Moses’ heart that he built a little two-story house right next to his Bible school so that it would be easier for him to serve. It amazes me how some people can be so passionate and committed in serving God, and I have been extremely encouraged by Pastor Moses’ actions. In the trip we also saw some things that were out of the ordinary. In one village we came across a woman who had leprosy, a disease that is spoken of in the Bible. It was a privilege for us to have the opportunity to minister and pray for her, which again required a God given boldness to do.
The second part of the trip was held in Chiang Mai. On one day we did temple ministry, carrying out a prayer walk around the Temple. When we left, we saw a monk sitting in a nearby building and he beckoned us in, inviting us to sit and meditate. On entering he also offered all the boys a charm, which was tied around the wrist. To my surprise, Pastor Ricky put on the charm, and told all the boys to do so too, saying that it has no power over us. The Holy Spirit had told him that by allowing the monk to put the charm on us and bless us, it would open him up to allow us in turn to minister to him and eventually pray for him. We found out that the Monk was an Abbot who had travelled all around Thailand. His name in Thai means “brightness” or “glory”, and he showed a genuine interest in who Jesus was when we told him about what we had been doing earlier on in the trip. He also showed us his scars, which he had from his past operation and shared with us his health problems, and eventually he allowed us to hold his hands and pray for him. It is not every day that you see a monk being so receptive and the Holy Spirit working in such a tangible way!
One thing that I personally learnt from this trip is to try and be more grateful. We spent a lot of time playing with the children of Care Corner Orphanage. These children have no parents and many of them are HIV positive, and so as a result have many illnesses and diseases. However, despite this they are able to be joyful, and content with what little they have. When I reflect over my own life, I realize that I often tend to moan about trivial things. How is it that we who have so much are the ones who complain, whilst those who have so little are satisfied? These children have each other. They have people who love them and who look after them as if they were their own. Most importantly they have the Lord, and for them that is enough!