The journey continues!
It’s impossible to get anywhere on time!
Although we are a fairly low-maintenance team, everywhere we go in this country we run into someone who knows Laurie or one of the other Eubanks and we are halted for a short time. Typically it is a divinely timed connection and needed information, supplies, transformation, encouragement or other items are exchanged and we are on our way again. This happened no less than four times yesterday (that I know about) and it is a faith-building encouragement to watch these types of interactions be the “norm” on this trip.
After breakfast and a couple of these connections at the hotel yesterday morning, we headed out to the Kawthooli Karen Baptist Bible College and School (KKBBSC) at the Mae La refugee camp located along the Thai/Burmese border. Our team joined several others working with partner organizations here in Thailand and had the privilege of attending (as guests of honor) one of the worship services (they have four each Sunday!) of the Christian church there near the camp. There is a long history of Chapel Hill support through prayer and practical means of Pastor (Dr.) Simon and the Bible college he has led here for 25 years and it was a great encouragement to spend time there for all of us.
Pastor Simon’s oldest daughter Knyaw Htoo has recently returned from studying in Canada (where she obtained an M.Div.) and she graciously welcomed us and showed us around the camp. She joined us for the worship service, where we heard beautiful singing and were encouraged by the life and joy within those attending the service.
We then enjoyed a delicious Thai meal as Pastor Simon shared with us the history of the Bible college and how he came to spend his life here among his people, working to share Christ’s love with them despite often discouraging and sometimes horrific circumstances. He shared with us his deep belief that no matter the circumstances we can trust God with both our present days and with our future. His faith and assurance in God’s love was inspiring and we were able to share with him the love and support of our team and our church through words and gifts (see pictures). As we are reading through the gospels with you here, Matthew 6:25-34 came to mind as Pastor Simon humbly but confidently shared the very real way he is living out his belief in these words.
In reflecting back over this day, I was struck again as always happens when traveling, not by our DIFFERENCES, but by the SIMILARITIES between ourselves and those we are interacting with here, no matter where on the globe we may live. As happens anywhere, the most curious and brave of the children in the camp ventured out to peek at us behind buildings and trees. Babies cried in church as parents rocked them. We enjoyed fellowship together around the table as happens weekly around the globe, and we heard stories of parents concerned and proud for their children and children concerned and proud for their parents. Teenagers laughed and joked, and mothers took pride in the appearance of their children. Strangers smiled shyly and young boys attempted to impress us with their skills of jumping, lifting and speaking English. (The dogs in the front row spots during the service were a little less common but they were reverent just the same!). What an amazing gift to realize this unity in Christ and his love for us, despite our outward differences, as we head out today to partner and support those providing medical care to the vastly underserved Karen people. Please continue to pray for health and safety while traveling and for eyes and ears that are open to where God would lead us to be.