June 10, 2010

Leaving Cha-am

We will conclude our Thai Baptist Missionary Fellowship retreat this morning and travel back to Bangkok. We have had a very good week participating in their annual gathering. The varied programming with children, youth, and adults has offered significant ministry to these missionary colleagues and their families. Our team has received much as we have cultivated attentive hearts to their concerns.

Last evening was the talent show which I deemed a distant rival to Central's "marginal talent" show. The fun of it was seeing families perform together. One Australian family with four children ages 4-12 were the highlight as they sang "Caught in the Middle"--which aptly describes their rather chaotic life! Kate and Dave helped the youth perform an updated tale of Jonah. I will never read the biblical story the same again, especially after witnessing Dave's rendition of the whale. Once again, our students have been a blessing throughout the conference.

My teaching on the Holy Spirit has been well received, for which I am grateful. Why travel half-way around the world and not be useful?! At the conclusion of the final teaching session, the participants offered a remarkable blessing to me. They gathered around me, lay hands upon me, and prayed simultaneously for me out loud (a lovely Thai Christian tradition.) I was strengthened by their intercession and care. I was reminded of the power to bless inherent in the people of God--a spiritual practice we could exercise more in our part of the world.

As we return to Bangkok today, we will have opportunity to visit the Thai Burma Border Consortium again. When the create students were there in February, it made a deep impression on them--and those of us who accompanied them. I wanted to make sure that the students on this pilgrimage have similar opportunity to learn of the plight of internally displaced persons and refugees along the border. We will have time also tomorrow to visit the Thai Cultural Center and The Grand Palace. [We might even get to shop for a little silk...one of my not-so-guilty pleasures. I only shop for friends, of course.]

Gratitude is the overwhelming emotion I feel as we conclude this part of our sojourn in Thailand. I believe that God is placing an open door before Central as we strengthen our relationships in Thailand, Burma, and Hong Kong. In Christ now meet both East and West. Yes, East and West remain in Christ, but the geographic realities do not divide nor diminish Christian witness. Christ's body is strengthened as we learn from one another that there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Amen.

Molly T. Marshall, Ph. D.

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