“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16).
In another attempt to follow this command of Christ, our team recently helped to organize a first-of-its-kind event—“Never Been Unloved”—an Easter/Thai New Year benefit concert to raise support for a local orphanage, the Khaen Thong Children’s Home. Five different groups partnered up to make this concert happen:
1) two dozen Khon Kaen University students from the Thai Studies department of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, 2) two dozen students and teachers from our Peace Music Academy, 3) a dozen singers from the Khon Kaen Seventh-day Adventist Church, 4) a few singers from the Khon Kaen International School, and 5) a half dozen orphans from the Khaen Thong Children’s Home. The concert itself took place on Easter, March 27, 2016. Out of respect for the local Thai New Year celebration that was soon to take place (April 13-15), we took compatible themes from both occasions and merged them into a single concert program. The main themes of the concert were family, respect for our benefactors, reconciliation and forgiveness, and sacrificial giving as a part of true love in action.
For the local Thai New Year celebration, these themes are usually seen in family gatherings, the tradition of pouring water over the hands of family elders, asking for blessing and forgiveness, and in some cases giving gifts to the elders. In the Easter celebration, the themes are seen in how Jesus comes to gather the universal family back to God, Whom we also honor, and Who freely offers forgiveness, reconciliation and blessing on account of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus now lives to bless us and desires us all to be a source of blessing to our families and communities.
Several songs showcased the joy of Songkran and also the gospel. Told through the true Easter story, the gospel shows that no matter how unfortunate, unexceptional or unloving we may have been at times in our lives, there has never been a moment when we were unloved. We took the title of our concert from lyrics by Michael W. Smith: “But because of You / And all that You went through / I know that I have never been unloved.”
At the end of the concert, we took up a special donation while the Khon Kaen Adventist Church choir, accompanied by the PMA students and teachers, sang, “As we live / moving side by side / May we learn to give / Learn to sacrifice.” The total donation amount received from that small crowd of approximately 120 people, plus some generous donors in Bangkok, was upwards of US$2,000, which was more than I had dared to hope. So, besides offering a practical gift to the children in Khon Kaen who have no families, besides providing a positive outlet for our students and teachers to use their musical talents, besides deepening our friendships and broadening our contacts and networks with other people and organizations in our community, we were also able to help spread the message of God’s amazing love revealed in the life and sacrifice of Jesus. May our Father in heaven be glorified (Matt. 5:16)!