My favorite book of my 2013 Around the World Reading Challenge was Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski, set in Northern Thailand, which we just left! It’s the story of missionaries. It’s the story of anthropology. And it’s the story of murder. It’s just great. I was so fascinated by the story of this missionary family, living for generations among the hill tribes of Thailand. As they do their work, share their message, an entire tribe leaves the cultural faith and turns to a belief in Christianity. An anthropologist becomes curious, and begins to study this phenomenon, and trouble ensues.
While in Northern Thailand, we stayed with some friends of ours who are missionaries, reaching out to the surrounding hill tribes. [And thankfully, this was the only parallel to the Fieldwork plot line, as nobody likes prison & death on vacation]. We got to join them for a kid’s weekend event, where we sang songs and told Bible stories and did crafts. We got to go to a drop-in center for at-risk youth and teach English and play games. We also took part in a training for Burmese pastors to learn how to build rain catchment tanks for clean water solutions in their home villages. It was so fun.
I love when faith can be shared with meeting practical needs as well. When Jesus came to Earth, He didn’t just save souls but healed physical bodies too. It’s not one or other, but both. Let’s provide spiritual answers to questions and physical solutions to earthly needs. People are dying from lack of clean water. Children are being trafficked. Families are starving. As Christians, we can’t ignore these crises, and only hand out Bibles & shout with bullhorns. We have to engage. So we learn how to build rain catchment tanks and water filtration systems, or begin aquaponics farming, or start teaching English & skills training to group of teens that could be trafficked without alternatives. Why? Because Jesus loves them. Because Jesus cares that they are hungry and hurting, and sent us, whom He loves too, to help meet these needs. To not just be a band-aid on a problem, but to equip communities and strengthen families. It’s beautiful. I love that when I travel, I get to help people. I love that not only do I learn about the place that I am visiting, but also the person I am becoming. I love that I get to share this adventure with my husband, and my partner, in love & vision. And I love that we get to be part of eternal change in this life, and the next, because we answered call on our lives. God is good.