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Faddy Follow-Up

I’m going to have to apologize before I start.  I’m going to have to tell the Kavi “story” in the next blog because I’ve had several requests for the Faddy story to be completed.  So, for the 2 ½ people still reading… hang tight. 

 

So, we went back to interview Faddy and ended up spending the entire afternoon with him.  We showed up at about 1:30pm and stayed with him until almost 6:00pm.  As we worked through the survey, the differences between Islam and Christianity became more pronounced.  Up to this point, Faddy had been insisting that Christianity was just a slight deviation from the truth.  On the first day of the interview Faddy was adamant that all people were born Muslim, but that many had strayed from the truth.  Yet, he kept insisting that Jesus was a “very good” prophet of God.  On the second day, our interview took us into questions regarding the deity of Jesus.  It was at this point that we were politely told that we were basically the infidel. 

 

(Most of you would probably agree on some level with me being branded as an infidel!)          

 

Honestly, I don’t know if I’ve ever been more graciously hosted in someone’s house… even with the infidel branding.  Once again we were served tea, only this time the tea was accompanied by dates.  I actually had no clue what we were eating at the time, but it’s not like I’m going to turn down food!  Once again, just like with Kavi, we left with a new friend.  I would love to tell you that Faddy came to know Jesus as Prophet, Priest, and King, but he did not.  He did, however, end our time with a really profound question. 

 

After we finished our interview, we asked him if he had any questions for us about Christianity.  He thought for a really long time, determining just how to phrase his question.  Finally, after about two minutes he asked this: 

 

“There is one thing I don’t understand.  I do not understand why Christian missionaries are willing to go so many places and sacrifice so much… and Muslims do not do this.  I don’t understand this.” 

 

Tell me, does that question not hit at the heart of the entire difference between Christianity and every other world religion!  There’s actually a cool back story to this question that I’ll get to in a minute.  We spent the next 1 ½ hours explaining to Faddy the unconditional love of Jesus (Dave, you did a fabulous job explaining the Gospel both clearly and passionately).  He asked questions here and there, but for the most part just soaked it in.  At the end of our time, he allowed us to pray with and for him.  Handshakes & hugs, a Sang Tao ride, and we were back at our hotel wondering if we would ever see Faddy again. 

 

Now if you’re mind’s been drifting, focus up because this is the good stuff.

 

THE BACK STORY 

If you’ve read my previous blog about Faddy, then you know how random it was that we met him at all in his out-of-the-way shop.  It is even more random (or providential) due to the fact that they really don’t leave the shop very often.  Well, when we first began interviewing Faddy he told us he had a Bible.  We didn’t think too much of this, but as the week progressed we began to learn some amazing details about God’s working in Faddy’s life.  During our worship in the mornings and at different times throughout the day, all the evangelism teams began sharing stories of what God had been doing while they were out in the afternoons.  It was during one of these times that we learned that another team had spoken to Faddy the previous week. They had shared the Gospel and had long conversation with him, a conversation in which he divulged that his Bible had come from an evangelism team from our school from last summer!  So… since last summer Faddy had come into contact with at least three teams of Christian missionaries! Isn’t it interesting that his question to us was not about the Gospel specifically, but about the unconditional love Christian missionaries demonstrate by their willingness to go anywhere and do anything it takes to tell others of Jesus’ unconditional love? 

 

Y’all, unconditional love is powerful.  There is nothing in this world that can break down barriers and soften hearts as effectively as unconditional love.  It should be no surprise that the same love Jesus manifests toward us is the most persuasive evangelism method there is.  If you’re not sure about this, think back on a time when someone has loved you unconditionally.  Think about how God unlocked parts of your heart that you didn’t even know needed unlocking.  Think about healing God brought that you didn’t know you needed.  Think about the growth you experienced because of this love.  Think about how clear the Gospel became as you saw it acted out in your relationships with others.  Think about how another person’s unconditional love drew you inexplicably closer to Jesus.    

 

This seems to be what Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians 1:27 when he says, “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.” 

Catching Up... Big Time!!!

 
July 25th
 
Today was a tough day… a day of goodbyes. We’re not actually leaving for a few more days, but today was the last opportunity we would have to spend time with Faddy and Kavipiya. While it was not as difficult to part ways with Faddy, it was really tough to say goodbye to Kavi. I don’t know how any of you feel about this, but I’ve found that there are those people who come into your life and immediately steal your heart… this was Kavi for me. The first time we talked he was so seemingly bored with his own conversation (explaining the tenets of Buddhism) and then we began sharing stories of our families and our homes, and he just lit up. His open zeal and joy for the simplest of things was an amazing blessing to this jaded heart. A perfect example of this occurred during out last conversation.
 
We were just chatting, small talk mostly, when Kavi made reference to the fact that we were all scared of death. My friend Bobby and I were both quick to correct him and let him know that by no means were either of us scared of dying. At first he thought we were joking, but after a little convincing he was amazed to find out that neither of us was genuinely concerned with our own deaths. At this point Kavi was locked in, wanting to know exactly why we were not scared of dying. Since I had been talking with Kavipiya for a week already, Bobby went ahead and took over, spending the next 35 minutes explaining to Kavi what exactly Jesus did on the cross. I have never heard someone explain Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection as passionately and compassionately as Bobby did. As the story progressed, Kavi leaned further and further across the table. Each time he understood something he would rise out of his chair, snap his fingers, and say “Ooohhh, yes I understand now!” His enthusiasm and excitement was so sweet and innocent. Finally, Bobby explained exactly why Jesus had to die. Kavi didn’t understand so Bobby told him a story to illustrate Jesus’ self-sacrifice (story to follow in next blog). At the end of the story Kavi responded rather tamely compared to his previous responses. After a few questions, we realized that he had gotten the story mixed up. Once we answered his question about the story you could literally see the understanding in his eyes. He almost jumped out of his seat, snapped his fingers, and said “Oh yes, that is a good story! I understand now!” He gave us both big high fives and sat back down with a huge smile on his face. We asked if he wanted to know this Jesus, and he said something that I think we all could learn from. He said, “I want to read of this for myself… I don’t want to accept it just because someone tells me it. I want to know it for myself.” WOW!!! If only everyone was that serious about finding the truth. We parted that night with hugs and sadness, but I trust that Kavi is going to find the truth that he’s looking for. 
 
One of the real joys of being in Thailand for me has been the openness of people to at least dialogue about Christianity. It is not like in the US where people being “open” to discussing Christianity really just means they want to argue against what they perceive to be “Biblical Christianity.” It was so refreshing to be able to sit and dialogue with both Buddhists and Muslims and leave as close friends, even if we all clung to our own beliefs. Perhaps that exists in the US, but I’ve seldom experienced it. More often I’ve left conversations feeling as if I was some weird second-class citizen. If I’m being completely transparent, I’ve most likely left conversations with some of you feeling this way. I love all of you, but I also know that not all of you believe as I do. I have worked hard to ensure that I was open and honest about the nature and intent of this trip. The reason I went to Thailand was not to have a good time or even see the sights, the reason I went is because I love Jesus. I love him so much that I want nothing more than to spend the rest of my life sharing the truth about my Savior with people who have never had the opportunity to hear about him. Yet, my heart is burdened for those of you who are my friends but do not know Jesus. It is really easy to buy into the American dream, losing track of life’s truly important questions… questions regarding purpose, peace, joy, and genuine contentment. Perhaps we have become so blinded by our prosperity that we have lost any quest for real truth. It is my prayer that all of you would have a zeal for the truth. A zeal that is both unwilling to accept just any answer, and unable to settle for anything less than that truth which brings peace, joy, and contentment in all circumstances. Do you have such zeal???
   
 
 

Praise Be to God

Hey Everybody! 

 

Sorry it’s been so long since my last post, but time is Southeast Asia has a habit of slipping away from you.  I want you all to know that I am so thankful for all of your prayers.  It has been a great trip and I fully believe it is because of all the prayer support each of us has been receiving from home. 

 

It has been a bit of a challenging week this week.  We began our study of Islam this past Monday and it has been very difficult to find Muslims to interview that actually spoke English.  We’ve met several who I think “conveniently” don’t know how to speak English.  I can’t blame them… if a huge white guy came up to me and started asking for an interview I might be a little cautious myself.  We spent all day Monday walking around in the heat and failing to interview any Muslims.  Tuesday was much of the same, so at about 2:30pm (We go out and interview from 12:00 – 5:00 everyday) we decided to grab a burger from Burger King – okay so I was the only one who wanted to eat, but I have very supportive “teammates.”  As I sat eating, we decided we would spend some time praying before we left… asking God to open a door for us to interview a Muslim and share the love of Christ with him. 

 

As we left Burger King, we decided to go down to a Mosque area that our laundry lady Sasi told us about.  (Her name is said “Saucy”... Shut up Sowers J )  We had directions, but they were in Thai.  We walked about 5 blocks and then stopped for directions.  The man we asked, of course, did not speak English… but he could read the directions.  He communicated that it was about 5 more minutes of walking.  So, off we went.  This whole scenario played out about 3 more times taking us almost 4 miles on foot.  It was hot, we were tired, and to be honest my burger was beginning to make my stomach hurt… stupid American food.  Well, finally I’m about ready to go back to the hotel when we see the mosque.  At this point I’m just ready to get there.  Those of you who know me well know that I can be slightly single-minded and stubborn at times.  Let’s just say, I was ready to be at that mosque.   My teammates, both older and wiser than me, suggested we stop in a little rinky-dink shop across the street.  I objected as politely as I could, but they insisted.  I couldn’t figure out why they would want to stop at such a small, out of the way shop.  I couldn’t even see where the door to go in was.   They both said they just felt like we should go, so off we went. 

 

Thankfully, my teammates didn’t listen to my suggestion.  We walked in the shop and met one of the only true English speaking Muslims that anyone has met all week.  We sat with him, we’ll call him Faddy, for almost two hours.  It was neat, his wife prepared tea for us and we all just sat around talking.  We are actually going back this afternoon to finish up the interview with him, so we’ll see how it goes.  Just please lift him up as you all go through your night/day.


Well, I’ve got to head to worship, but I’ll try to be better about leaving posts.  Also, the pictures are probably a no-go from here on out.  Our connection speed here is terrible.  I’m going to try, but no guarantees. 

 

Promises of Peace

 Went to another temple today...  was again saddened and frustrated.  Saddened for a people looking for peace and finding none.  Frustrated at the forces that lead these people astray.  As I observed people worshipping today it was impossible to not be moved by their sincerity, conviction, and hope.   They are working so hard to secure peace for themselves, but they have no assurance of any peace.  They come and make offerings in the hope that they can acrue enough "good" karma to reach enlightenment, but there is never any real guarantee that they will make it.  Thus, they go through life hoping that the "karmic scales" will tip slightly in favor of them when they die.  Could there be a more hopeless situation...  For a religion that touts "inner peace," it seems not to offer much.  Listen folks, this is not me banging on Buddhists... this is what lifelong Buddhists have been telling us all week long.  They have realated to us that even when they meditate they seldom find real peace.  How tragic.  

People... Christianity has been much maligned in recent years primarily because of Christians.  Yet no matter what you think of Christians, Christianity is the only world religion that can truly deliver on its promise to give us peace.  Study any world religion and you will see the offer peace, but there is never any assurance of it.  In this way, Christianity has the market on true peace for the soul.   

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."  ---  Jesus Christ (John 14:27)

More pictures posted.

Pictures

Hey Everybody,
I should be able to get on tomorrow night and give some updates.  Right now the only update I have is that I finally have found a program that is easily accessible to begin posting pictures on.  I've downloaded a few as time allows, but there will be more to follow.  Just click on this link or copy it and paste it into your web browser.  http://photobucket.com/avanderburg18

Blessings

 

I think that the enormity of being in Thailand finally caught up with me today.  It’s not that it hasn’t been amazing here (I love it), but I have not been overwhelmed in any sense of the word.  The Thai people are great, the city is incredible, but until today I had not had the “wow” moment.  Today is exactly one week since I left home, so it took me a week to realize how amazing this whole thing is.  This should not come as to surprise any of you… my being late is by no means shocking.  Yet, what hit me today is not that I am in an unbelievable foreign place or even that there are so many neat things to do, what hit me was the enormity of God’s grace and love.  We talk about these things, but seldom really stop to think just how special they are.  I sat for over two hours today speaking with two monks at their temple.  As we talked my heart became increasingly burdened for these young men.  It broke my heart to hear their life stories.  They had no framework with which to understand true unconditional love.  It had never been a part of their lives.  The “L” word is thrown around so casually in our culture that we take it for granted.  But, these young men just did not understand how someone could love them so much that he would give his life for them.  They have never known what it means to sacrificially love or be loved.  They have never experienced a peace as deep as the ocean and a joy that is unquenchable.  They have never experienced total acceptance in spite of their own short-comings.  They have never known true rest, rest for their souls.  They have never known the love of Jesus.  They have never felt the indescribable comfort of God’s grace.  Being in a foreign country, seeing amazing site, and meeting new friends are blessings to be sure... but they are nowhere near as precious as knowing the love of Jesus.  

 

Please pray for Kavipiya, Marma, Seawea.  These are three young men created in the image of God, yet they know none of the blessings of knowing their Creator and His great love for them.          

    

Slow Internet

 So, I think the internet is too slow to download any pics right now... so I'll put em up later.  Sorry.

Trying to keep up... :)

July 14th

 

Well, this is actually my first post on a decent nights sleep.  So put on your seatbelt because here we go!!!

Apparently I'm three times larger than anything is
Southeast Asia.  I rode in a "Tuk-Tuk" for the first time today.  It's like a three wheel taxi with two seats in the back and a small shotgun seat.  Three of us snagged a ride, I got the mini-shotgun seat which left me hanging a bit in the road.  It was awesome! 

 

Also along the lines of tallness…  We got a massage last night.  The Thai ladies got quite a kick out of how tall I am.  They didn’t speak much English, but I think they laughed just about the entire time we were there – no mean spirited, just fun laughter.  It was fun, plus it is no different than what I get in America!  J  

My professor for the first week is one of Billy and Heather's good friends from Southwestern...  Dr. Eitel.  He's a great guy and just so you
Dalton's know, Southwestern is just not as safe as it used to be.  I think there's talk of a Special Security Forces Hall of Fame... Billy, I think you might be the first inductee.  Way to go Top Cop!

We toured a couple temples, reading Scripture and praying in them.  The passages we were asked to read (to ourselves obviously) in these temples were Isiah 46, Isiah 44:6 - 20, and Romans 1.  I know I was a little abrasive in last nights post, but these passages capture perfectly the emotions of my heart.  I would love for all of you to prayerfully read through them, thinking of your own worship habits.  If you don't worship, then I would ask you to seriously consider checking out these Bible passages… they are quite challenging.  What would it hurt to give them a reading and at least explore the possibility of their validity?

 

(FYI – I have been writing all of these at different times and saving them as Word documents.  What follows is written almost 24 hours after the previous due to time constraints)

 

July 15th

 

We went on a scavenger hunt through all of Chiang Mai last night.  It was a really neat experience.  We hired a Tuk-Tuk driver to carry us to all the destinations on our list.  He found out it was a race and he really got into it.  He was driving like a mad-genius, laughing the entire time.  As we were screaming through Chiang Mai, we managed to ask our driver’s name…  He yelled with a beaming smile, “Mr. Tuk-Tuk.”  We came in 2nd place, but we feel there were performance enhancing drugs used by the winning team.  We’re appealing for random testing. 

 

On a random note, saw my first cat yesterday… I was beginning to worry about why there were so many dogs and so few cats.  I just wanted to make sure that cats weren’t making their way into any dishes (Pam, don’t pass this on to Dix, he’s sensitive).  Got a great picture of a dog sweating it out in the heat… Ben, count your blessings for the AC.

 

Got up close and personal with our professor and his wife last night, around 3:30am.  Mrs. Eitel is a nurse, and my roommate was a wee bit sick.  His name is John and I know he would appreciate any and all prayers. 

 

Edgewood youth… I know you hate my cell phone.  Well good news… it’s done.  We had a little bathroom mix-up during the sick hours of the night.  For some reason I placed my phone on the counter near the trash can and  let’s just say that the trash can felt the full force of John’s sickness.   My phone was washed away in the purge.  A fitting end to old blue. 

 

I’m so tired… I’m going to have to finish this whole thought train later. 

 

Here’s some sweet pics, I’ll let them do the talking tonight.  

 

Chiang Mai

A big thanks to those on the Dixie watch.  He's got some great "moms" as do I... and don't be afraid to kiss the swelled chin, it might be just what the doctor ordered!  

John Willy...  Sunday School, don't forget - and be prepared (someone remind him).  See, only the time zone changes!  

We arrived in Chiang Mai today, leaving Bangkok behind us for the next 14 days.  To be honest, I was not impressed with what we saw of Bangkok.  Admitedly we only saw a small portion, but after seeing Chiang Mai its hard not to compare the two.  Chiang Mai is great.  Mountains rising in the distance, a moat surrounding the old city, and the coolest taxi system ever.  (I'm putting in a request for Sung Tao's in Walterboro)  Our taxis are little red busses where one can scrunch up inside, or hang off a ladder on the back - this is everyone's favorite of course.  We went to a 7-11 next to our Hotel... let me just say I'm buying groceries before I come home.  Our next stop was dinner (we didn't arrive at our hotel until like 4pm.  Last was the Sunday night market, which was huge.  We walked for nearly three hours and didn't even come close to hitting the whole thing.  Part of this was due to the $2 massage they offered in the market square.  It was short and simple, but for 30 minutes you can't beat it.  It was really amazing, a person could definitely fall in love with a place like this and people like this.  

While all of the tourist "stuff" has been fun, the seriousness of our calling (by "calling" I mean all Christian's call to be Great Commission minded) really hit home.  We strayed off on a side street of the market to see a Buddhist shrine.  As we walked by there were close to 25 people bowed down reverently offering incense and gifts to a big Golden Man.  I couldn't help but be overcome by a deep sadness for these people.  It broke my heart to see such heartfelt devotion, a devotion that can only lead to destruction.  Then I began to think... idolatry here is overt and easy to see.  Yet it is just as prevalent in the US, it's just dressed up a little more.  TV's, cars, boats, sports, teams, relationships, traditions, comfort, etc... all vie for our worship, and we are all guilty of false worship.  It is time for us to take the blinders off and see how suicidal our idolatry is.  How are any of us going to "go and make disciples" when we are so busy worshipping ourselves?  How is a lost and dying world going to see the love of our Savior if we don't begin to worship Him and Him alone.  He died and rose again so that we might have freedom.  Freedom from eternal seperation from God, from guilt and shame, from a wasted and lonely existence.  He paid our debt so that we could have life, and have it abundently...  are we living a life reflective of the grace and love we have been freely given?  I know I don't.    

Short Morning

 

Well, finally… day 1 in Thailand.  We arrived at our motel at almost 2 am local time last night.  It was a pretty long day/days, however long we were traveling for.  Someone said that from Raleigh to Bangkok, airport to airport, we were traveling for something like 36 straight hours.  Our motel is amazing… they brought our bags all the way into the room (which was a little awkward).  We are getting ready to eat a really nice breakfast.  Beds, food, bag-carriers… I may never leave Thailand.     

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