Jesus, The Risky Unknown Foreign God
the risky, unknown
Thai collectivist culture means everyone is always welcome. Kids live in and out of each other’s family houses. Quiet or alone time is non-existent (why you’d want it anyway is a mystery to them!). Furniture is optional. All you need to sleep on is the floor, making sleepovers an easy option! Bathrooms are also optional.
Yet dig a little deeper and you begin to see the pervasive nature of fear that has tightly gripped this culture. Fear of the dark, fear of the river, lightning storms, being alone... most of which at their root, are a fear of evil spirits. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear a child or adult express this crippling fear.
A lady we regularly visit hadn’t slept for two weeks owing to the constant pain she was experiencing. She sought help through a spirit doctor, but after various painful rituals she found no relief. The spirit doctor informed her that an evil spirit within her threatened to eat her insides and eventually kill her if she was left alone. This was said in front of her ten-year old son. Fear perpetuates.
To this woman, Jesus is the risky, unknown, foreign God that she is afraid to ask for help. What repercussions will the family face from the spirits and ancestors if Jesus was to intervene? What would people say? New fears arise. Collectivist culture means that children regularly chant and bow together in Buddhist rituals and ceremonies at the temple and at school, but what would it take for one to refuse?
It would take a supernatural move of God. I believe it is a matter of time... He is able, and working in their hearts. This is why we need to pray like we mean it, and keep showing them Jesus until they are willing to trust him. He intends for each precious child, every hardworking adult, every drunken man, every tattooed spirit doctor, everyone created in His image, to be set free. That is my prayer for these people I have come to love.