…let me provide some background first. Every morning, just before dawn, Buddhist Monks leave the temple to go out into the community and local markets to collect alms (rice dishes, curries, money, etc.) from local Buddhists. The act of offering alms is a way to make merit, which is important in Buddhist culture because it contributes to a person’s growth toward enlightenment and also helps determine the quality of their next life. In return for giving alms, the monks speak a blessing over the giver.
OK, back to the story. Every Monday and Friday, I study Thai at a local Church. One Friday morning, with headphones firmly in place, I climbed onto the open-air public bus. As I sat down, I heard, “Where you from?” Since I was the only farang (the Thai word for “foreigner”) on the bus, it was a safe bet that the elderly man was talking to me. I took my headphones out and responded in Thai, “Maa jaak America” (I’m from America). For the entire 30-minute ride, we chatted about why I was in Thailand, what I did for work, where I was going, his grandchildren, etc. It was great to practice my Thai with a local!
We arrived at the last bus stop and as we descended the steps, he asked if he could go with me to my language class. He said he has lived in this neighborhood for over 20 years and never knew there was a church here. Hesitantly, I replied that he could, so we hopped on motorcycle taxis and he followed me to the church. Now, one little detail I’ve left out is that this man is a monk. He was on his way back to the temple from collecting alms. You can imagine the surprised look on my Thai teacher’s face when she saw me and this monk walk through the doors of the church together!
What followed was an incredible conversation about what happens during a church service, what we sing about, and it ended with an invitation to this monk, whose name was Somchai, to join my Thai teacher’s church on Sunday morning. He hasn’t yet accepted that invitation, but I’m hopeful and prayerful that one day he will. Praise God for these divine appointments and opportunities He allows us to share our faith with others!
Alyssa Miller served with our Sports Friends team in Thailand. She loves soccer and has a heart for women’s ministry!