2012 Thailand – Eugene Lee

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

“Just love on the person in front of you. No agenda.” Sounds easy and simple, but often we become so wrapped up in function and getting things done that we miss the simplest of things, and we take the easy things and make them complicated. But this was the agenda of our Thailand team—to simply love on the person in front of us. Having never been to Thailand, I had two very different ideas of what the country was like. On one hand, it was this beautiful South East Asian destination with good food, lots of fruit, beaches, and gentle people. On the other hand, I had this image of a place of taboo: prostitution, child slavery, and poverty. But ultimately, I imagined Thailand to be a place that just simply needed more Jesus.

Before even hitting the missions field, I was excited for what God had in store for the team and for Thailand. As our team continued to meet, and as unity grew, God’s heart for this team was becoming clearer and clearer. Conventionally, New Philadelphia Church (and therefore naturally the missions trips we go on) contends for the supernatural to be natural and for Holy Spirit’s fire to fall. Although our team was contending for these things, our team leader Anita was always discerning of God’s heart. As we continued to minister, God showed us that His heart for each ministry opportunity wasn’t for us to be some maverick hotshot team- coming in guns ablazing, and then pulling out. Rather, we were to establish something that would last longer: building up what was already being established, and building up “the few,” or as Anita put it, “the core.”

What stood out most to me was that this trip was about relationship and empowerment. The majority of our trip was spent ministering to kids in schools from elementary school to middle school. We initially had some trouble catching the attention of the students, but the team rallied together and decided that we would teach these children English. It was a great way to break the ice and establish relationship. I was so proud of my team. When I looked around, every one of our team members was stepping up their game. There was so much energy and stretching of comfort zones that I couldn’t help but really see what it means to “love on the person in front of you.” We weren’t allowed to minister to the children through salvation calls or praying for them, but we could share the Gospel through testimonies, VBS, body worship, and even preaching. What was really special to me was that we were able to invite the students to the site we were staying and “hang out” with them more. It was a time to just love on the kids by playing games and spending time with them, but obviously the bigger purpose was to get them into an environment where we could really become relational with the students and minister to them on a deeper level.

The empowering aspect of the trip came when we as a team stepped back and let God work through the native people to minister and even release healing. While in Bangkok, we ministered at a church called Plukjit Laksi Church (Church of God World Missions), where we really contended for this lady’s healing. She had one leg significantly shorter than the other, and we were pressing in and pressing in, but we weren’t seeing much healing. So Anita had the team step back and she asked the head pastor, Pastor Yothin, and his wife to pray for the woman’s leg. And lo and behold, the leg grew out! It was a great time of revelation and breakthrough for the pastor. But the amazing thing with God is that it wasn’t just pastors or he anoints to move with power. He even empowers the youth to move in greater measures of faith.

During this trip, I had sprained my ankle while preaching. At the last ministry opportunity we had with the students, Anita was unsure of what to preach. In the end though, she began to teach on the Holy Spirit and the healing power that comes from the Spirit. With her incredible faith, she called me up front and center, and asked who wanted to pray for the healing of my ankle. This definitely was one of the most powerful moments of our trip. As the team was instructed to step back and not even lay a hand on me, all the students surrounded me and began to pray for my healing. To see the faith of the students rise up and for them to believe that they have the Holy Spirit and thus the power to heal, and then to see them act upon it was so powerful! This is what it is all about. Our team was sent to minister, but here the students were about to get a glimpse of themselves as powerful ministers. After being prayed for, I stood up and I wish I could tell you I was fully healed, but I did feel much better mobility. Walking was much less labored, but tightness and pain was still present. Although I wasn’t fully healed, God was revealing to me that it’s not just about the healing. It is about the act of faith in which these students stepped out. It is about the students coming to a realization that they can even do something like pray for the sick, that they have the power and authority to heal as followers of Jesus.

One last memory is something a team member shared that deeply struck a chord with me. One of our members is part Thai, and she said that her grandfather was saved when he randomly went to a conference where missionaries had come and shared the Gospel. This team member shared that because of that day, she is now a 3rd generation Christian. That one seed sown by missionaries years ago has brought about such lasting fruit. And ministering to so many kids this trip was so powerful because it was like God was bringing it all full circle. God is definitely building something in Thailand. It would have been so easy to go on this trip with our own agendas and our own expectations, or to fall into the deception that because we’re ministering to kids we can brush it off as insignificant ministry. But God says in Isaiah 55:8, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, and neither are your ways my ways…. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” We forget sometimes, as much as we are passionate and loving toward whatever nation we are ministering to, God is more passionate and His love for these countries run far deeper than any love that we can conjure up. It’s good to have expectations don’t get me wrong, but when you hit the missions field, the most important thing is to understand and follow God’s heart above all else.

As Apostle Paul instructs in 1 Corinthians 16:14, “Let all that you do be done in Love.” And that’s what it’s really about. Young, old, rich, poor, sick, or healthy- God’s love is not based on function but on grace and undeserved favor. We are simply called to love the person in front of us.

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