Pastoral Perspectives

God Is Still at Work

Apart from conducting English lessons in Banna Wittayakhom School during our recent mission trip in Kalasin, some of our team members also accompanied Pastor Weerachai (pastor of the Thai church) and his wife on their pastoral visitation to church members and their families.

Out of the four families that we visited, the family of B and S (husband and wife) and their teenage daughter, K left an impression upon me. When our team first arrived at their home, B was chilling on his hammock in a separate area of the compound. In contrast to the other families who greeted us warmly and promptly offered us a seat when they met us, B came across as rather aloof and merely acknowledged our team’s presence from his hammock.

Even when Pastor Weerachai walked across the front yard and invited B to join the rest of his family for a chat, B was reluctant, citing that he has not bathed and was concerned about possibly causing us some inconveniences. After much cajoling, B did step out from his hammock but sat a distance away from his wife while interacting with some of us. To our team’s relief, there was hardly any noticeable body odour. So it appears that B’s concern was unfounded or perhaps he was just uncomfortable about meeting strangers.

After some time, Pastor Weerachai offered to pray for the family and requested them to huddle together. As our team gathered around this family of three and prayed for them, I felt this sudden inexplicable swelling of emotions and started to tear up. Somehow this scene of a family holding hands together while receiving prayers from our team was particularly moving to me.

Perhaps the Holy Spirit was trying to impress upon my heart that this is a glimpse of the affection and unity that God desires every family to enjoy as they learn to love God and one another. But alas, we know that this is not always the case. Ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed God, our fallen human nature often has a way of wrecking our relationships and bringing much brokenness and harm to ourselves and others.

But thanks be to God, our sins will not have the last word. As Christians, we have hope and can look forward to that glorious promised day when God will graciously “turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of their children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6).

As I took out my handkerchief to wipe away my tears, I could see from the corner of my eyes that both S and K were also visibly moved. Being partially aware of the challenges that their family faces, I can only imagine the pain and anguish that this pair of mother and child has experienced and how they must have cried out to God for healing and peace in their family. Yet on that afternoon when B was willing to join them to receive prayer, even though it was for a brief moment, would have been given them a foretaste of what is possible for their family. I trust that this would have brought them some degree of comfort, encouraging them to continue trusting in God to answer their prayers.

While S and K have been believers for some years, B is an unbeliever who struggles with alcoholism and possibly other addictions. As much as I lack details about the extent of B’s problems and the impact it has upon his family, it is suffice to say that B’s addiction is not something that can be easily overcome by man’s efforts alone. So when B agreed to join his family for worship service on Sunday, it felt like there was finally a breakthrough.

On Sunday morning, I was glad to see B stepping into church chirpily, albeit he came much later on his own. But to my dismay, as I walked to the door to welcome B, he reeked of alcohol. To be honest, I did not expect that. I had naively assumed that B would not be drinking so heavily just before attending a worship service. Nevertheless, I gave thanks to God for this very first step that B took. After all, B could have simply kept on drinking and broke his promise about joining his family for worship.

Even though B slipped out of the church shortly after the service began, I know that no one is beyond redemption. If Jesus could heal a man with an unclean spirit (Mark 5:1-20) and deliver him from his agony and misery of having to be restrained with chains and always crying out and cutting himself with stones, we can pray that B will soon be reconciled to God and be set free from his destructive addictions. Just as Jesus restored the man with an unclean spirit so that he could return to his family and community, God in his mercy can restore B so that all can be truly well with his family and he can participate fully in the life of local church.

As a church, we are thankful for the opportunity to partner with Pastor Weerachai and his members in their outreach efforts. Even though individuals like B and many others have yet to put their faith in Jesus Christ, we will not grow weary in our labour of faith and love (Galatians 6:9). Until Christ comes again, we know that God is not done yet with the people in Kalasin and elsewhere in this world. God is still at work and his kingdom continues to grow even if for a season it appears that nothing is happening. There are still many who have yet to hear about Jesus and many whom God will graciously and powerfully deliver from the kingdom of darkness and bringing them into kingdom of his beloved Son (Colossians 1:13-14). What a joy and privilege it is that together with our brethren in Thailand, we get to make a difference in someone’s life for all of eternity as we persevere in praying and the giving of ourselves and resources for the extension of God’s kingdom. To God be the glory!