It was Friday evening, and we were returning home and looking forward to a quiet evening bringing in the Sabbath. However, our new neighbors were having a party to celebrate their move into a new home, and they had invited us to join them. We had thought it would be just a small gathering, but we arrived home to find a party tent covering half the road in front of our house and people busy setting up tables and chairs and a bandstand for live music. That part had us a little concerned. Parties in Thailand can be loud and long, and this one had all the warning signs.
As darkness approached, people began to arrive. Parked cars lined the roads in both directions, and music began to blast from large speakers. We retreated into our bedroom at the back of our house and closed the doors and windows to muffle the din. We tried to fall asleep, but the thump, thump, thump of the bass throbbed through our bodies, and earplugs were no help.
We began praying that the Lord would take charge and unplug the music so we could get some sleep. Close to midnight, there was a loud boom of thunder followed almost immediately by a downpour. Needless to say, the music stopped, and peace reigned.
We woke up Sabbath morning thinking the party was over, but we were mistaken. People were streaming back in, and the loudspeakers came alive again. Then a van arrived, and eight Buddhist monks got out. As we prepared to go to church, we listened to the monks chant blessings over the loudspeaker. For more than 45 minutes we observed the proceedings as the partygoers gave them gifts of food.
Though we didn’t attend the party, we gave our neighbors a small housewarming gift with a card in Thai thanking them for the invitation. Since then, we have exchanged greetings on a daily basis, working to build a friendship with the family as we learn to communicate better in their tongue.
A week later, we experienced another party that was quite different from our neighbors’ housewarming. Since moving here, we had really wanted to have a house blessing, inviting the whole church family to our home for fellowship, worship, music, scripture reading and prayer for God’s blessing on our home and our influence in this village.
As many as 50 people attend church on Sabbath, and we were not sure how we could accommodate them in our little home if they all came, but we decided to do it anyway. Many of our church attendees are expatriates who teach English in Khon Kaen and nearby villages. The Thai group meets three Sabbaths a month and has their own church service in Thai. Usually, we all worship together on the last Sabbath of the month, and the sermon is translated. We have a strong desire to help them all work together to evangelize the city of Khon Kaen. We are a relatively small group praying for the Holy Spirit’s power to reach out into this Thai-Buddhist province of Khon Kaen with over 1.7 million people.
We laid our plans and bought a good quantity of coconut ice cream. About 35 people squeezed into our home, but no one seemed to mind the crowded conditions. It was wonderful to see the interaction between the cultures as they sang, prayed and ate together. It warmed our hearts as our home filled with happy laughter and Christian fellowship as we played games together that night. Everyone left with the feeling that we need to do this kind of fellowship more often. We need to learn to understand each other and work together as a family. It was especially helpful to the new members to experience the fellowship that the church of Christ can have as we work together to take the gospel message to the world.
We also hope that our party was a witness to our close neighbors as they had a chance to hear us singing and laughing, having a good time together as Christian brothers and sisters.