“The wind is the most important element in sailing, and if no wind is present, you aren’t going anywhere. The same is true with a movement of God. A movement cannot happen without the wind of the Holy Spirit. He is absolutely the most important factor in seeing a movement of God break out. Without him, there is no movement.” — Chris Galanos
We had been praying for our student Ginger’s grandmother for several weeks. She had been admitted to the hospital after suffering a stroke one evening just after she finished taking a bath. During the first few days in the hospital, Ginger’s grandmother was in a medically induced coma. Finally, after nearly a month in the hospital, her doctor recommended that she return home and spend time with her family. There was not much more they could do for her.
Ginger’s grandmother was brought home by ambulance around four in the afternoon. She spent a few hours with her husband, children and grandchildren. Then, shortly after seven in the evening, she passed away. The next several evenings, we visited Ginger’s family. According to local custom, we stayed close to them and grieved together as neighbors and relatives came and went.
Every evening, a group of Buddhist monks from the local temple would come to perform the prescribed death rituals, saying the prayers for the deceased that lead up to the last day when the deceased would be cremated. I observed how each night, the monks would recite the five precepts of Thai Buddhism: do not destroy life, do not take what is not yours, do not commit sexual misconduct, do not lie for selfish gain, and do not use intoxicants that lead to carelessness.
Since we can observe that adults and children in our community regularly violate these precepts, it is probably safe to deduce that simply telling people not to do something is not enough. Telling anyone what to do or what not to do, especially as it relates to a religious framework, is like making sails. You need sails, but if you want to go sailing, you need wind.
“The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit” (John 3:8 NLT).
Being a church member and following all the rules and customs one has been taught but never learning how to follow where the Spirit leads is like being a sailboat with no wind.
In our mission to help the children and caregivers in our community learn that Jesus is a real person who cares about their lives, we regularly read Bible stories to them and then ask them what God wants them to learn from the story to make their lives better. We intentionally try not to tell our students what a given Bible story is teaching but rather challenge them to open their hearts to what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach them from the story. We believe this is how we can most effectively make disciples for Jesus who know how to put their sails up and catch the wind of the Spirit for themselves.
If you would like to partner with us in our ministry to help the children and caregivers here in Thailand learn to go sailing—to learn to be led by the Spirit—we invite you to make a pledge of support.