Lun Bi Ktok-oh

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Our Palm Village Church has started meeting under the shade of a towering bamboo on the banks of the Mekong River, near where we usually meet in a member’s home. To get to the house church or the bamboo, you need to drive by tightly-packed wooden homes on stilts. They all look the same, like dusty wooden boxes with very steep and narrow stairs. Each has a small roof peak with a large roof peak behind, covered in clay tiles like the scales on a fish. Do not go too fast, or you will drive right by.

Pass the house with the wood-slatted bed underneath, where people sit and visit since the houses are too hot during the day; the yard has an impressive pile of chainsaw-milled wood. Pass the rough, squat-only outhouse and the rainwater collection jar. Park and get out. Let your toes squish through the green-black slime and mud, constantly wet from the dip shower between the houses; the chickens, cows, ducks and dishwater; and runoff from cleaning the day’s catch of fish from the Mekong. Step carefully through neighboring Yusof’s unkept banana grove, maneuvering past trash and decomposing items.

The boards of Yusof’s house are wearing thin, and they could not look any older from years of sun and rain and all the cows tied there. Seven of them. His yard smells very fertile. Watch your step. Look for dry spots.

Greet Yusof and his wife at their house and invite them along. Hurry now. Today, Simon, our project assistant, has prepared a lesson called “Who is in God’s family?” based on Mathew 12:46-50.

Walk by the witch doctor’s house. Greet his patients. See their split-bamboo splints tied with bits of old cloth rubbed in pastes and potions. These people need real medical care; those bones should not be splinted until they are set. He is doing his
best with what he knows, but to me, it looks like a crime against humanity. Smile at his patients and try to encourage them.

Everyone, find a spot on the grass mat. Hear the towering bamboos groan as the wind rubs them together. Now comes the moment for which I have been waiting.

Lun ho somgike tie c-paik tooie Isa; (I have decided to follow Jesus;)
Lun ho somgike tie c-paik tooie Isa;
Lun ho somgike tie c-paik tooie Isa;
lun bi ktok-oh, (no turning back,)
lun bi ktok-oh.

Today is the first time we have sung it in their language. Simon worked hard, getting the syllables to fit the tune and not to be a tongue twister. He taught it to us. He was so proud. You would have been, too.

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