“I am not Christian. I’m Thai!”

Last year, Dean* took his son, Andy*, to the international school every morning. Each day before Andy entered his classroom, they would stop to pray.

One morning, Andy’s Thai friend, Bun Ma*, came by just as they were about to pray, and Andy invited her to join them.

“What’s [prayer]?” Bun Ma asked.

Dean explained that they prayed to Jesus and asked for His blessing over their day and to help them be kind.

“Oh,” Bun Ma replied, “I’m not Christian; I’m Thai.”

Dean shared her response with his wife. This new cultural insight shook them.

Bun Ma did not say that she was a Buddhist or give any reference to religion. Rather, she verbalized that if she were a Christian, she would not be Thai. At seven years old, she already “understood” that she could not be both. 

This type of “understanding” is true of many peoples around the world. They associate their ethnic or national heritage exclusively with one religion. The two are inseparably tied together. Pray as our field workers live out a shema lifestyle — one where speaking about spiritual matters is a natural and regular habit. Pray they find many who are willing to listen and share what they learn within their relational networks.

*pseudonym

“Well That’s Easy! I Can Do That!”

Each day, Niah teaches Dean and Penny the Thai language. She also helps them understand Thai culture and religious beliefs. She has become their friend.

Dean and Penny share stories about Jesus with her and answer her questions about the Christian faith. In December Niah asked, “Why do you give gifts at Christmas?”

Penny happily told Niah about the gift of forgiveness and love that God gave through Jesus and that this amazing gift is free and for all people. 

Thai Buddhists, Niah said, carry their good and bad from life to life, never putting it down. They hope their good will outweigh the bad so their next life is better. When Penny asked how she knew if she’d done enough good, Niah said, “You don’t until you die and face judgment.” She agreed it would be nice to set it down and not pick it up again.

As the discussion continued, Penny shared that followers of Jesus read God’s word, obey what it says, and share it with others. “Well that’s easy,” Niah responded. “I can do that.”

If you give to BEYOND, you have played a part in Niah hearing the Good News. Pray that spiritual conversations like these, happening all over the world, will yield ever-increasing fruit to the glory of Father God.

*pseudonym

A Holy Discomfort

Andy* is a young boy who lives in Thailand with his mom, dad, and new brother, Micah. 

His parents recently told him that many people had been praying for him since before he was born. They had prayed he would follow Jesus at an early age. Now they were praying the same thing for baby Micah. Andy knew for certain that he wanted his brother to be in heaven with him one day.

As his parents continued talking, Andy became very disturbed by the idea that some people he knows and loves, who don’t follow Jesus yet, won’t go to heaven. The idea took root in his heart for the first time. 

He was brought to tears when he realized some kids at his school don’t know Jesus yet, including one of his best friends, Prem. His parents told him that was the reason they had moved to Thailand. “As followers of Jesus, Andy, it is our job to pray for people’s hearts to be open to Jesus and to share Jesus with them.” 

“While the moment was emotionally hard,” Andy’s mom says, “it was beautiful as well. To watch his young heart understand in such a personal way was truly a gift. Having a face to pray for is much different from talking about a large group of people.” 

Lord, stir up a holy discomfort in all your followers concerning those who will not be in heaven with us. Billions of people can’t say yes to you — they’ve never heard of you! Break our hearts with this reality, Father. May we boldly share the glorious news of YOU with those around us. Call us to the nations for your glory. Amen.

*pseudonym