Story-telling in the Land of Smiles

Twenty years ago I  spent a summer in Thailand for my medical elective in Manorom Christian Hospital in Central Thailand with Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF) I was inspired by the inspirational skill & devotion of the doctors serving God there. I also have happy memories of  running along paddy fields, visiting markets, eating tropical fruit, & of the warm hospitality of missionaries. This country captured my heart & for a significant time I believed I would be back there as a medical missionary.

In April 2017 it was eventually possible for me to return to Thailand again. I’d been in Singapore & I had the opportunity to visit Thailand just for the weekend.

It was a short visit just after Thai New Year. Just after Songkran- the national water festival. Just after a week of challenge, education & encouragement at OMF headquarters.

Just a weekend, but it was long enough to see spirit houses & temples – a reminder that ‘To be Thai is to be Buddhist’

Long enough to see beautiful Thai smiles & hear ‘sawadee ka‘ (‘Hello’)

Long enough to hear what love sounds like at House of Grace orphanage.

Long enough to feel the tropical sun in the hot season & the sand beneath my feet as I walked along Crystal Beach.

Long enough to recognise how stressed I had been & to sense the blessing of this weekend that was just what I needed.

And most importantly, long enough to hear Alan & Maelynn’s story- a story of following God’s call across the globe in the days when travelling to Thailand meant embarking on a three week journey to Asia by boat!

They married in South Thailand & worked as missionaries there. Soon Alan & Maelynn had 5 children under 4 ( including 2 sets of twins!)

There followed years of ministry in South Thailand & Bangkok. Then on World AIDS Day in December 1990, God challenged them about the 300,000 Thai infected with HIV. In 1992 ,Aids Care Education & Training ( ACET) Thailand was born- an opportunity to show God’s love in action.

Now in their late 70s, retirement isn’t really on their agenda. As long as they remain healthy, & there’s work to do- they’ll remain here in Thailand.

I listened to a chapter of their story in their home nestling among banana & papaya trees near Chantaburi. I thought about how stories have been described as social glue- the substance that binds humanity together. I was also deeply challenged by the fact that Alan & Maelynn’s  story was actually all about telling His story

Just the week before in Singapore I’d sang ‘May our lives tell your story’

(from Shine on me by Graham Kendrick)

What a prayer: May our lives tell your story!

Eugene Peterson wrote an article ‘Living into God’s story’:

‘The Bible is basically and overall a narrative, an immense, sprawling, capacious narrative. Stories hold pride of place in revealing God and God’s way to us.’

God’s story contains the overarching themes of His faithfulness, redemption, sovereignty , eternal love, deep mercy & amazing grace.

His story is eternal:

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”
(Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT)

His story involves:

*Blessing

‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.’
(Ephesians 1:3-4 NIV)

*Saving

‘But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,’
(Titus 3:4-5 NIV)

*Calling

‘He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.’
(2 Timothy 1:9 NIV)

*Encouraging

‘May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.’
(2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NIV)

Yes, may our lives tell His story.

After all, He is the Author of life, the healer of hearts & the Saviour of souls.

God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.’
(Psalm 18:24 MSG)

‘None of us is the leading character in the story of our lives. God is the larger context and plot in which all our stories find themselves.’
(Eugene Petersen)

‘Lord write your story on the pages of  my life that I may bring glory to You’
(Leah Dipascal)

‘Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.’
(Isaiah 25:1 NIV)

‘Generation after generation stands in awe of your work; each one tells stories of your mighty acts.’
(Psalm 145:4 MSG)

Blessings,

Ruth x

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