By Jessica Peroyea, SF Thailand
Gods’ love speaks all languages.
It is amazing that two groups of women coming from completely different languages and cultures can meet together and learn from one another. This is what happened at our recent Thai Women’s coaches training. The Charlotte Lady Eagles traveled to Chiang Mai, Thailand, to run a coaches’ retreat as a way to empower women in sports ministry all around Thailand. Despite the language barrier, God did so much more than what either group expected.
These Thai women coaches are on the front lines of their ministries. They long for their children to have fun, to become more confident in playing sports, and to know God’s deep love for them. The Lady Eagles were able to encourage them by showing them games to play, how to solve team problems, and how to find teachable moments when coaching their players. Together, the women played silly games, danced to fun songs, and sang their hearts out.
The Thai women watched the Lady Eagles as they had no inhibitions in being who they were. The Lady Eagles showed that it was okay to dance like a fool and sing your lungs out because you felt free and loved by those around you. This allowed the women to let their walls down and let go of the world around them. When their walls came down, vulnerability happened and relationships across the women were deepened.
On the last night of the retreat, the Lady Eagles washed the Thai women’s feet as a way to truly show their desire to serve their new friends and embody servant leadership to them. As two girls would wash and dry a woman’s feet, another would pray over her. The Eagles’ truly desired to be an example of servant leadership to them. The Thai women were overwhelmed with love from their new friends and from God. Some of them were even moved to tears. One girl in particular, Katie Smith, shares how she was deeply moved in this moment:
“As we made our way to the chair and sat at the feet of the lovely Thai women, I felt like the Lord was whispering to me. Telling me to take a step back and realize whose feet I was washing. To take a step out of my own mind and realize I was blessed with an opportunity to be washing the feet of a true servant of Christ, who is living in this culture where Christianity is not the norm, who is fighting to spread the good news through sports, and who is actively living for Christ. My heart broke. I couldn’t believe the Lord was using me, a broken, lost, insecure, young believer to wash the feet of such a wise, beautiful and joyful woman of God. I felt so humbled to be able to lay down my insecurities of not being good enough, and serve a woman who the Lord pursued and brought freedom, grace and hope. This is when I truly realized how universal and personal our God is. At this moment, I felt the Holy Spirit move in me to just start praying thanksgiving over her. I couldn’t help myself but to cry. It was not tears of sorrow but tears of awe and gratefulness for God and His loving heart. I was praying, and although she could not understand the words I was saying, I felt this connection that was brought through His Spirit. I learned at that moment to not limit God; He has the capability to reach all nations and communicate to all languages. “
At the end of the night, Sports Friends had both groups of women write out prayer requests for when they returned home. The team then translated their responses for one another. The Thai women coaches each found a partner in a Lady Eagle and went to a quiet place to pray over one another. With hands held tightly and eyes shut, these women prayed from the depths of their souls for their new friends. The American women prayed for their families, the children that were hurting in their villages, for fresh ideas to be generated for their sports teams, and for the children to grow in their love for Jesus. The Thai women prayed for the American girls to show Jesus’s truth to their teammates on their university teams and that God would show them how to be used in sports ministry after college.
At the end of the retreat, some of the Thai women shared about their experiences with the Lady Eagles. There was a clear consensus in every woman’s answer:
“Even though we do not understand one another, I feel your love. We have learned how to communicate through different ways.” Through God’s spirit, deep bonds were formed without words.