Last year we hired a Thai nurse named Cherry to help lead our growing health ministry. It seemed to be a perfect providence her and for us. We were looking for a spiritually committed Thai nurse, and Cherry was looking for an opportunity to get involved in full-time ministry. We praised God for bringing us together. Cherry, her husband Bon, and their daughter Esther moved to Khon Kaen and quickly got involved in making home visits, planning health expos, and dreaming dreams for the future. After a couple of months, they told us that they were really enjoying the chance to minister together and were grateful for the opportunity to work with us.
However, last few months of 2019 brought multiple challenges to Cherry and her family. Cherry contracted dengue fever and had to spend a few days in the hospital. Her daughter Esther got sick several times and also spent time in the hospital. Also, the family were involved in a car accident while driving back from a health expo we sponsored in another province. Their work came to a halt as these adversities piled up in rapid succession. At the end of the year, Cherry told me that she was unsure how long she would continue working with us. She said she sensed that God was leading her to move on to a new ministry.
As 2020 began, I was unsure what the future held for our health ministry, but we continued to make plans. We hosted a guest speaker for a health-emphasis week at our church and planned to lead a health expo in another province in the middle of March to help out a missionary there. The week before the scheduled health expo, Cherry’s husband Bon got very sick and was admitted to the hospital. Cherry was not be able to go to the health expo.
Two weeks later, Cherry told me she felt she wasn’t able to do justice to her job responsibilities in light of her family obligations, so she was resigning. She and her family went to go live near her father who was in very poor health. Soon after that, the COVID-19 lockdowns began, and our outreach activities came to a screeching halt. Five months later, Cherry’s father passed away. After the funeral, she and her family moved up north to Chiangmai.
In November Cherry and Bon came back to Khon Kaen to help us with a health expo, and we had a chance to catch up. They told me they were really enjoying life in Chiangmai, and God was using them to do home visitations, health consultations, and ministry in various villages. They talked about their challenges with debt and lack of a stable income. Also, a church member had borrowed a significant sum of money from them several months earlier but had failed to repay it and was not responding to their messages. Even though they had every right to be upset, Bon and Cherry displayed a peace and calm that showed that they were trusting God with the situation.
As we continued to talk, Cherry shared more of what they had been going through since they left Khon Kaen and the lessons that God was teaching them. She told me that her in-laws had been pressuring her to get a regular nursing job to pay off their debts. Due to lingering injuries from a car accident six years ago, the physical demands of nursing in a hospital are too great, so she has not pursued that route. Also, she told me that she feels the way they are living is more conducive to their spirituality. Having to trust God daily to bless their small business ventures keeps them humble and teachable. She told me that God has been taking care of them month by month. They never lack, are able to go where they need to go, and have seen God provide what they need in order to make their debt payments. She told me that she worries she would lose her way if she entered secular work fulltime, as she knows her own weaknesses for personal pride and show. We talked about how God uses our weakness and needs to keep us depending on Him, and that He can actually turn them into strength, as Paul attests in 2 Corinthians 12:7-12.
Cherry also told me that when she was with us in Khon Kaen she wanted to work hard for God in order to get His blessing. She felt like her motives were not pure. But now, after having been given a foundation by working with us, she felt that God has grown her and helped her to have a sincerer desire to help people along with more boldness and courage to share the truth.
The more I listened to Cherry the more I was struck with a sense of awe at how God was molding, shaping, and working with her and her family. When we finished our conversation and said goodbye, I felt a sense of peace knowing that God was taking care of them and working out His will in their lives and ministry.
As I reflect on my experience with Bon and Cherry over the past year and a half I can see that God had a plan and a purpose in bringing them to Khon Kaen to work with us and also in having them leave when they did. Although things didn’t go the way I had planned, I think it all worked out for the best. They left Khon Kaen right when things starting shutting down due to COVID-19. Had they stayed with us, they would not have been able to do visitations or any public outreach for several months. By leaving when they did, they were able to spend meaningful time with Cherry’s father before he passed away—precious time that will live in their memories for the rest of their lives. Their experience with us was a training ground that enabled them to grow stronger in their faith and in their commitment to serve. They were able to learn many valuable spiritual lessons in the process. I praise God for how He has worked in this situation. Please pray for Bon and Cherry as they continue to grow and serve.