For the second leg of our mission trip to Chiangmai, we had contacted Youth With a Mission (YWAM), who then hooked us up with someone named Pat. During our group debrief the night before we were to meet Pat, Qianzi revealed that she honestly knew almost nothing about this person we were going to be working with. The only contact she had with him was via email and one phone call, during which he assured her that he would love us like his own family. But even though we were venturing into the unknown the next day, I felt a certain sense of peace and comfort in the knowledge that God was in control. The next morning when Chianteng and I came down to the lobby of our motel, we were told that Pat was already here, and that they were already loading up the van in the car park. Reaching the car park, we were greeted by this sight. What an impression!
After loading up the van, Pat started telling us more about himself and his ministry. He had lived in the USA for 17 years and had been caught up in a lot of sin. He was doing drugs, practising black magic, sleeping around with women, to name just a few things. He was married, but his wife had cheated on him with another man. Furious, he decided that he was going to kill his wife. But as he was on his way to take his revenge, he ran into a missionary, who started telling him about Jesus. The missionary told him to go home and read his bible, and when he did he accepted Jesus into his life and began to be transformed by God. This new life that he had found compelled him to keep telling his ex-wife about Jesus, and eventually she came to know the Lord as well! This beautiful love story comes full circle, and he ended up remarrying his ex-wife.
He briefed us on what we would be doing with him. He talked about the orphanages, youth prisons, and hospitals we would be reaching out in. It all sounded very exciting, but everything was suddenly grounded into reality when he said, “When you go out sharing with me, one thing I cannot promise you is safety. I got beat up for sharing the good news before, but Jesus said, “I will send you as a sheep among wolves”. That’s what you guys are going to be doing.” But after this grave statement, he gently assured us that if we felt afraid to do anything or go anywhere, we could stay back and that would be alright. Breaking into a smile, he then added that the people he had brought around before never got beat up, only him, because he often chooses to go to places with drunkards or people practising black magic. He shared a testimony where although he got beat up by a guy for talking about Jesus, somehow he still managed to pray for him and even ended up befriending him! He said, “When I get beat up for the gospel, it feels so good. It does. I feel peace.” His courage in the face of persecution and how he lays down his own safety for the gospel was inspiring.
We then loaded ourselves into the van, 4 people in the front with Pat, and the remaining 7 sardined in the back with our bags. We went from travelling along the smooth urban roads of Chiangmai in a clean, roomy taxi with soft seats, to rumbling along bone-rattling dirt roads in the back of a dusty pickup truck. And it was awesome. The change in our mode of transport alone seemed to be symbolic of our transition into a rather different form of ministry and missionary work with Pat. Paul could barely hide his excitement and kept saying, “We’re walking the walk!” Leroy kept quipping, “We’re getting deported!” It was a funny ride.
We also sang praise and worship songs during the journey out of town. As we sang I felt like my heart was crying out and already interceding for the people we were going to meet and the work we were about to go out and do with Pat.
He brought us to a small church in a village near his house for Sunday service and then to his farm. It was a small farm, but all of us could see that it was prosperous. The farm was a source of income for Pat, but its greater purpose was a halfway house for the boys who get released from the youth prisons and orphanages. They work for Pat as farm hands, but during their stay they get discipled in the ways of the Lord, and Pat also puts in a lot of effort to put the boys through trade school to get jobs. Till today we still receive numerous email updates from Pat about the life-changing testimonies of the boys who come under his care.
After giving us a tour of his farm, he got us to sit down in a sheltered bridge he had built across a brook, where we talked and got to know each other. He began by sharing about his life, his ministry and his family. One thing that impacted me the most from that time of sharing is what he imparted to us regarding Matthew 10:14.
“If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”
He said, “When you go into the town, if the village welcomes you, you stay there. But a lot of time when we share the good news I think we move so fast. We share the good news to this place, and then share the good news to the next place. But I think Jesus wants us to stay in these places. He preached the gospel to a lot of people, but the way he told his disciples is, when you go out, whichever town welcomes you, you stay there. And then you make disciples in the town. And then the disciples make their own disciples. So when you go back to your own town, if you go into one building and then one room welcomes you, stay there. You go back and spend a lot of time on that one room. Then when that one room finds Jesus, and when they are bold enough to share the good news, then they are going to be able to spread the gospel for you. But if you go to so many places, what about after you leave? Who’s going to be there to teach them? Nobody.
So I go to a lot of places, but I only stay in the places that welcome the gospel. Because when I go, I tell them I’m going to talk about Jesus. And they say, “No I don’t want you to talk about Jesus”. They want me to go help their kids but they don’t want me to talk about Jesus. But I cannot do that, because the kids that I work with are the problem kind. They start smoking and doing drugs at the age of 7. It’s so hard to fix. The only way I can think of is Jesus, because he fixed me. And so I’m really honest when I go in there, I never try to hide or go undercover. If they will have me then they have me, if not I go to the next building. If the next building welcomes me then I go spend time with the next building, and then when the next building gives their life to Christ, then their life starts changing. And then the ones that didn’t want me in the beginning, they say, “wait a minute, how come those people are changing? How come those towns are happy? They used to get drunk and fight, how come they have stopped? How come they love each other?” Then the first village wants to know what happened and then they go ask, “What happened to you guys?” And they say, “We gave our lives to Jesus!” “
After sharing about himself, he then asked us all to share about ourselves. I do believe it was his openness in sharing his own personal walk that made all of us willing to be vulnerable with each other as well. We shared about past hurts, struggles we had gone through while growing up, and testimonies of who we used to be before being transformed by God’s love. It was my first time hearing many of the stories, and it showed me how there was so much I didn’t know about these dear friends of mine. Even though Pat was supposed to be the one getting to know us, I felt like we were getting to know each other better as well.
Pat said that because it was Sunday, we would spend the day resting and settling ourselves down. But because we didn’t have any ministering scheduled for the day, it became more apparent how closely Pat walks in obedience to the Lord. We were at a supermarket and Pat took Qianzi with him to buy a SIM card, but after a long time they still hadn’t returned, which made us wonder why it was taking so long. Upon returning, Qianzi revealed that as they were speaking to the shop owner, Pat somehow brought Jesus and the gospel into the conversation. And a while later during dinner, we couldn’t find a table big enough to fit all of us, and so ended sharing a table with a young chap. Pat started casually speaking to him in Thai, and at the end of our meal Pat handed the chap a bible tract with his contact number on it. This brought me back to something that Pat had said earlier at the farm, “Many times we try to think of news ways to reach people, but if we read the gospel, we will see that Jesus’ way is the best way. Just go back and read the gospel and adapt it to your Christian life and you’ll be fruitful. Simple as that. Go read and do.”
We had only spent a day with Pat and I felt like I had learnt a lifetime of lessons. In him I saw a life that was fully surrendered and laid down for Jesus and the gospel. But the subsequent days on the field with Pat proved to be filled with even more eye-opening experiences that shifted our paradigms of what it means to follow Jesus. Do check back again soon to read more about our experiences during the second half of our mission trip.
In His love,