Trip to Thailand

For some years now Dewayne Liebrandt has been encouraging me to go to Thailand to teach. He had heard some of my teaching on the nature of mankind (created male and female in the image of God) and felt that would be very beneficial un Buddhist Thailand. The thought of a 30 hour trip was not appealing, so I had suggested an internet teaching session, which we did and tried to find other ways to avoid the killer flight to get there. But Dewayne was insistent and even raised the funds to pay for my plane ticket, so he convinced me to make the journey. So I made the time in my busy schedule and set aside two weeks in the first of January of this year to travel with him to Thailand to teach.

I drove to Indianapolis on December 30 and spent the night there. The next morning we were up early and off to the airport. We left Indianapolis on December 31, flew to Atlanta, Georgia, then caught a flight to Inchon, Korea, then caught another six hour flight to Chiang Mai. After more than thirty straight hours of travel and 24 hours in an airplane (the longest leg was 16 hours!) we arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We took three days to recover from the flight and did little more than go to a grocery store for some supplies and attend two deaf churches and then a hearing church service that Sunday. By Tuesday, we were ready to begin work. On Tuesday morning we traveled to Bethany, a few miles outside of Chiang Mai. That is a Lisu Village and is where the legendary Morse family has a Bible institute. I taught the Lisu church leaders every morning during a four hour session. Interest was high and attendance grew as the week progressed. I was teaching and one of the Morse brothers interpreted for me.

There was a spirited discussion and many questions as the teaching dealt with issues such as the nature of man, the Biblical foundations of marriage, and our function as church leaders in a non-Christian world. After each session the ladies of the village prepared us a delicious (but very spicy/hot) lunch. We continued to discuss the themes of the day and questions were presented that would guide my teaching the following day to make sure I was touching the culturally relevant themes. On the last day of the teaching a couple of the elders asked to speak. They thanked me for coming and for dealing with difficult themes that others had not touched on. The said “your teaching has been like the pearl diver, who braves the unknown of the ocean to dive deep and bring up special jewels to share with others.” They presented me with a Lisu vest that I have brought to Colombia and worn here for church. They gave me a hand embroidered purse to take back home to my wife as a special gift. It was a great time and I was honored and blessed to be a part of this incredible work of this pioneer missionary family in our brotherhood.

During the same week after we ended our teaching in the Lisu village we returned to Chiang Mai and I prepared for my teaching with the deaf church in the evenings. There, the deaf would arrive at the Christian Resource Center and I would teach the same or similar session to what I had taught in the morning. I adapted it to the deaf church and its needs as they asked questions and as Dewayne guided me in reference to the needs of this sub-culture within Thailand. Again, there was much discussion and many questions, which each time I tried to answer by carefully tying the teaching to clear Biblical instruction. Dewayne interpreted from my English into Thai sign language. On a couple of occasions I used an expression that Dewayne would have to ask me to explain, as there was no easy translation into the sign language equivalent. This teaching went very well also and the deaf were very appreciative, each bringing me some small gift as an expression of their appreciation and then inviting me to a buffet type dinner to try many different traditional Thai dishes. It was interesting and very tasty, but as is typical in that part of the world, very generous in the use of very hot peppers!

After my teaching, we went shopping for some souvenirs to bring back as gifts for my family that endures my frequent absences for teaching and sharing the Gospel. The artisan market was fascinating. Then we had another Sunday for visiting churches. As a special blessing, I had received a Facebook message from a high school friend. She was serving in Chiang Mail with her husband as a missionary and invited me out to lunch. A person I had not seen since high school, and me meet more than forty years later half way around the world in the same effort to share the Gospel! On Monday we went to Acts Co, a Christian printing company that hires many of the deaf. I was encouraged to see this work doing so much for spreading the Gospel yet helping to give meaningful employment to the deaf. On Wednesday I chose to go and visit a Buddhist temple, so as to see first hand a religion I teach in my world religions class. I spent the entire day simply observing and asking questions about their worldview, belief structure, and theology. I was shocked by the fear and the constant struggle to escape suffering through a works based religion. I learned a great deal and came to appreciate even more the simply beauty of the Good News of salvation we have in Jesus Christ!

Thursday was a day to pack and get ready for my evening flight back to the States. I had traveled over with Dewayne and Jackie but would be flying back alone. I packed my suitcases and we had lunch with Tom Silkwood and his family. I had known them for some time, but came to appreciate them as dear brothers and friends in the work of preaching the Gospel. Then the afternoon was a time to relax a bit and then it was off to the airport. Dewayne dropped me off and I headed through security and began the brutal return flight back to the states. Again, after some 30 hours of no sleep, I arrived in Indianapolis and caught a cab back to Dewayne’s house. My battery was dead from sitting out in the cold, so a kindly neighbor helped me jump it and I was off for my five hour drive home. I arrived back in Rittman to crash for a few days before boarding another flight to return to the work in Colombia. I am grateful to Dewayne and his supporters for inviting me to make the trip and I was blessed to share in the spectacular work the Lord is doing in that part of the world!