180 Degrees stories
180 Degrees Turn in North Sumatra
story by Pauline Disuanco (Batch 8 grad)
Sa wa dee ka!
The second week of April brought us to the northern parts of Thailand, specifically Phu Sang, Chiang Kham, Chiang Rai, and Mae Sai. The weather was blazing hot, but we were all ecstatic about the people we’d meet.
Upon our arrival in Mae Sai, our host missionaries brought us to the local church for Sunday Service. It was an interesting experience. Their service differed from ours such that they catered to two tribes, two different dialects. There were always two speakers in every segment. Unfortunately, there was no tagalog or english translations, so we had to rely on the illustrated diagrams of the presentation. The passage revolved around Romans 12:4-5, the body of the Church. Every member of the body has its individual function. If one were to stumble—to cause headache—the whole church is affected.
Prior to the service, Kuya Darwin explained to us that there were a couple of established churches in the area. However, the people were not willing to step out of their comfort zone, to reach out to the community. This affected the church’s growth and ministry.
But where the church might have failed, God was still moving. We met people like Ahjan Wi-won, P’Gig, Ahjan Pratuan, and P’Bua who God has set out to encourage and minister to young people. We witnessed how He was building an impact in the community through their ministry. Young people wanted to learn more about the Word of God, and they wanted to play a role in the church as well.
In the short time that we participated in their respective ministries, God showed me that affection is as important as passion for His work. It is not enough to just desire or want to be involved in sharing the Gospel. One should truly care for the lost people.
Before our trip to Thailand, I had prayed, “Lord, use me.” But the three weeks in Thailand changed my perspective and prayer to “Lord, make me usable.” One has to be earnest and brave. We had to be willing to learn the language (and try our best at it), and absorb their culture. When we arrived, we had to humble ourselves, to be willing to listen to the people, to be compassionate to their needs.
Above all, as it says in Joshua 1:9, we had to be strong and courageous. This required real strength to remember the Lord’s promises in the midst of our frustrations, and real courage to act on those promises. We serve a God who loves the Thai people. We came to teach and minister, but ultimately it was God who worked in the lives of the people we met, and in each of us during our short trip.