About a year ago, Doug and Terri Vancil had a brilliant and crazy idea. Taking 25 young people on a 27 hour plane journey, where the food and language are extremely foreign, to a nation that by definition is Buddhist! After a year of planning and rehearsals on the American side, and careful and exhaustive planning of a rich experience by Chris and Dora Barbee, our mission partners on the Thai side, that idea became reality.
Here is what I observed in our teenagers: All of them, whether teaching English in the camps, or posing for selfies with eager Thai kids, or playing volleyball, basketball or dancing with their new Thai friends, had open hearts and a willingness to share that would make you proud. They learned through the hospitality and honesty of the Barbees what it is really like to work and live as a Christ follower in the minority, listening for the Spirit’s leading in loving people and serving them, while also respecting their native culture. Many of us were moved by a palpable sense of God’s spirit at work as we sang hymns and songs in both Thai and English. Students had their eyes opened to how big God’s loving arms are. Some eagerly embraced knowledge of the Thai language and food, but whether they did or not, music did much to bridge the gap—such joyful singing and dancing of American kids and Thai kids together!
We had the privilege of painting and cleaning, then being there for the dedication of a newly constructed open air pavilion for the English Center in Banon, a culmination of many years of prayer and work by Chris and Dora’s team, a much needed space We prayed for a dear Thai Christian couple who have opened a coffee shop in a neighboring town. After the main work of the choir performances and English language camps and worship services was done, we visited and prayed over the beautiful but broken city of Pattaya. You will be pleased to know that we saw your investment in the young people of our church bear important fruit in their lives, transformative experiences which will affect them for years to come. Thank you for having the vision to make a spiritual investment in our young people, and in God’s ongoing work in Thailand.