We might often hear the phrase that a chance encounter was a divine appointment, as God certainly orchestrates our steps to be in the right places throughout our day. In my time in Thailand, I have also experienced this. One such divine appointment occurred as I walked home from teaching class one afternoon. As usual, I carried my backpack and small whiteboard with me; however, I paused as I suddenly thought I heard someone call after me. I looked around and didn’t recognize anyone, but then noticed the shouts seemed to be from an oncoming motorbike. “Hey, hey,” the passenger called after me. I didn’t recognize him, but I paused to see if he really was calling after me. His driver stopped the motorbike, and he immediately asked whether I was an English teacher. I thought that was certainly a good guess, but I figured my pale skin and whiteboard might have given it away as well. I learned that he and his wife were looking for an English teacher, as they were planning to travel to Singapore in the next few months. I gave him my business card, and as we chatted, I was surprised to learn he owned the newly renovated restaurant right near Peace Music Academy. After we said goodbye, and I continued on my way, I wondered what exactly God had in store with this sudden meeting.
As the weeks and months have passed since that initial meeting, I have been thankful for the many opportunities I have had to meet with the owner and his wife. During this time I have learned more of Thai culture and the business world of Thailand and through our friendship naturally shared more of my work here in Thailand. Our very first meeting to practice English naturally led to questions about why I cared about health and about the church down the street. As I have gotten to know them, it has been a blessing to have them over for dinner in my home. Most recently, we have begun meeting to practice Thai as well as English. This has given me an opportunity to share more with them about why I chose to come to Thailand as a missionary, as they help me learn how to explain that in Thai. I appreciate their curiosity and kindness and the natural friendship that has developed. Even my profession as a counselor, has lead the owner to ask me for advice regarding mental health issues or solving problems that he sees in his friend’s life.
The last time I saw them he asked what I felt was the most important reason some people could overcome problems in their lives and others were unable to persevere. He asked whether I thought it was due to a lack of positive thinking or problem solving skills? Of course, I thought, those things are helpful, but God impressed me to say that most importantly I felt that trust in God determined the difference. As I have gotten to know them I understand a little how Buddhism is so naturally a part of their lives and culture but seems to include very little relationship with God or understanding of the traditions. Their natural caring and compassion just makes me wonder how God has already been working in their hearts.
I was surprised to realize that their time in Khon Kaen will actually end close to the time that I will be returning to the states, so there will not be much opportunity for other missionaries or church members to connect with them further. Even this, I do not think is a coincidence because I truly believe that God brings people into each other’s lives at just the right time. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to soften their hearts and lead in their lives. Pray that one day they may come to know and love Him.
**I actually wrote this a month before I left. Since then I had further talks with them and learned that they both believed in Jesus and Buddha, as they have been exposed quite a bit to Christianity in their lives. I can see that God is strongly pulling at their hearts. At the last few meetings, I enjoyed that they always paused and asked my friend or I to pray before our meals. I sense God is doing something beautiful in their lives and long to see the completion of that work one day.