By My Spirit

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“Have you ever had a broken heart?” May’s deep, brown, questioning eyes searched mine. What could I say to this girl I had known for only a couple of days? How could I say what I wanted to say in my broken, Google-translated, almost-nonexistent Thai? In Thai culture, so I’ve heard, people do not open their hearts easily. Yet here we were on our first walk together, sitting at a free evening concert in the Ton Tan street market, and my new Thai friend May was sharing her deepest pain and fears.

As I navigate the tiny streets at the market I can’t help but occasionally bump into people, motorbikes and dogs. But instead of scowls, I always see smiling faces. And yet, beneath the happy façade, I see in many eyes a hint of deep sadness—a hunger for meaning and peace.

One evening, a Thai friend named Dream invited my friend Tiffany and me to a Buddhist temple service. Hesitant at first, we finally decided to go with Dream and take this opportunity to deepen our friendship with her. When you are a missionary at the front lines, you don’t make decisions based on what’s most comfortable and safe for you, but what best positions you to reach out to someone in darkness.

As we entered the temple, I felt a spiritual heaviness around me. On all sides, people bowed to chanting monks and a statue of Buddha. We took a seat on a mat, and I began to pray to God in my heart. As I was praying, the chanting grew in intensity. The room felt darker, and the air felt heavier. The cloud of pungent incense seemed to wrap around me. I listened to an English translation of the prayer chants. They were praying to accept pain and to be detached from emotions, “because we are made for pain, and it is part of us and our life.” They were praying for the dead and the living.
In that moment, in my mind’s eye, I saw myself zoomed out. Then, from afar, I saw the temple and then the Earth cradled in the scarred hands of our loving Jesus. I heard His words, “No, I did not create you for pain and suffering. But My heart is in pain and agony because My children have believed a lie.” At that moment I felt His pain and His love for the Thai people; for these humble, mysterious, fun, life-loving people. I felt so powerless to change their ways of thinking; powerless because of the huge gap in mentality and worldview between us. At the same time I realized it wasn’t just Thai people who believe this lie. It is echoed in every society.

This service opened a door for a conversation with Dream about God and life. Some of her questions I could not answer, but I believe it was a step closer towards God for Dream in her journey with Him, and for me in my journey with Him.

Back in the Ton Tan market, I shared my experience with May of coming to Jesus as to a Friend, even with a broken heart. I realize daily that it is not about what we can say or do, but about letting God do and speak. It is not about me trying to change, but about God changing me. I am learning what it means to be emptied of self and to be His instrument. I see that even through language barriers, worldview differences and cultural perspectives, God is able to work and send us more searching people than I even imagined I would meet here.

As I wake up in the morning and look out my window, I see the sleeping city of Khon Kaen, and I pray for God to work on each heart. I thank Him for His wonderful promise, “‘Not by might and not by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6). And “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, with loving kindness I have drawn you” (Jer. 31:3).


Beautiful story, Nina. Thank you for allowing God to shine through you in Khon Kaen.  Don Abbey

By Don Abbey on April 21 2016, 11:28 pm

So beautiful message amiga! These last days that I am here in Thailand God also sent me some friends with a broken heart. I felt so sorry and prayed with them. But it’s just how you said Jesus doesn’t want anyone to be in pain and He is crying right now. My prayers are for them to believe in our wonderful savior!  Thanks for sharing this text amiga! I miss you:).  Keep shining! Had*****a.

By Hadassa on June 23 2016, 7:13 pm

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