Isn’t it amazing how one generous action can inspire another, which in turn can inspire a third and start a chain reaction? While the world is battling the COVID-19 pandemic, itself a viral chain reaction, our church has also increased our assistance efforts for the poor and newly jobless people of Khon Kaen.
It all began when one of our local Adventist Thai families pledged to give $1,000 to provide 50 lunches a day for a couple weeks to anyone who needed them. They made the announcement in our church chatroom, and they invited people to join in any way they wanted. Two more church members quickly came forward and offered to make food, and then four more young people volunteered to help them. At the same time, many were praying for the outreach. Two more members pledged to help support financially, and then more and more began to donate and make pledges. Soon the funds reached $3,000, and the number of lunches provided grew from 50 to about 200! News of this outreach has made it to church members in other provinces as far away as Chiangmai and Bangkok and even to the USA, and many have joined in donating to help these dear Thai families in distress! New donations continue to come in almost daily. It’s so beautiful to see God’s people coming forward to help people in need!
The lunches that our members are providing are packed in biodegradable paper boxes with stickers of our church’s logo and phone number and a new, encouraging Bible promise each day. Members are praying for these boxed lunches—each a seed sown in this hungry community.
We aren’t only experiencing a chain reaction of outreach, but of in-reach as well. Our church pastor learned that some of our own members and regular attendees were also suffering from lack of employment. One lady, whose photocopy business is located inside a school campus that was ordered to close, now has no source of income and nine mouths to feed—a grandmother, a handicapped sibling, children and abandoned nephews. Hearing of her dire circumstances, we knew we had to do something despite our limited resources. With the pastor’s counsel, Rene and I set out one day to buy this family a large sack of rice, some eggs and ramen noodles. That’s when another chain-reaction miracle happened! As Rene drove to the store, and I sat in the passenger seat, I read a personal message to me from a doctor friend who lives in Bangkok. She had attached a screenshot of a bank transfer to my account for approximately $1,600! At first I thought it must be a mistake. But a note below the screenshot explained that it was an anonymous donation from someone in the States who had heard of our work and appreciated our ministry. That was it—no other explanation or stated intention for the money. With a big smile on my face, I told Rene that God had just provided more money, so we could buy a lot more than rice, eggs and ramen for this needy family! Isaiah 65:24 came to my mind: “Before they call, I will answer.” The God who notices the sparrows also sees and cares for each of His children.
At the store, Rene and I loaded two shopping carts with 80 Kg of rice, dozens of eggs, and cases of ramen noodles, plus corn flakes, soy milk and household items like soap, shampoo, dish washing soap, and of course, toilet paper! We were very happy to be able to do all this relief shopping, but we were a little nervous, too, because we didn’t want to appear to be hoarding food and goods. The local military government, in order to prevent hoarding and price-gouging, announced that hoarders and anyone taking advantage for personal gain would be severely punished. But praise God, we were not stopped. We drove from there to the wholesale vegetable and fruit markets and bought a lot of fresh, nutritious produce—enough to feed four families for a week or more.
Claudette and her girls helped us divide the goods; then we went together to drop them off. When we arrived at the first home, one of the young boys cried out, “The teacher is here already!” Obviously he had been told that we were coming. Several young boys and a church member named Fix came out of the house to welcome us and help us unload the food.
“How are you doing, Fix?” I asked.
He smiled. “Well, today we ate two meals of only plain rice.” Fix’s mother explained that when they got a phone call from the pastor saying that we were coming with food, they both began to cry, overwhelmed by God’s grace.
At another house, our church member Tui came out, and Lina and Adela began to sing, “Your church loves you, too! Your church loves you, too! . . .” to the tune of “Happy Birthday.”
Tui gave us a big smile and said, “Today really is my birthday!” We all laughed and began singing “Happy Birthday to you! . . .” We had no idea, but God in His perfect way arranged for us to arrive on Tui’s birthday.
We thank all of you, our church family, who have played a key part in God’s chain reaction of grace by giving so generously to help the spiritually and financially poor know that Jesus and His church love them, too! It has been a great blessing already, and I know it will continue to be for a long time!
“The poor,” Jesus said, “you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. . .” (Mark 14:7). And that time, due to your generosity in this time of crisis, is now!