I never thought that t-shirts would provide such comedic relief in my life. There exists some “cruel” people in this world that have created hilariously and wildly offensive graphic tee’s, and unfortunately Thai people love to wear them, but I’m guessing they have no idea what they actually say. For example, while riding a bus one day a man walked on wearing a shirt that read, “Got Hemorrhoids?” I’m thinking he chose this shirt for the look of it, not because he genuinely wanted me or those around him to answer that question his shirt broadcasted. So you see what I mean by “cruel” people, however these shirts never fail to make me laugh. Despite that these shirts are generally inappropriate, there was one instance where I saw a shirt and it’s stuck with me ever since.
There is a beautiful park right near my community that I have been running at in the evenings. The park is always crowded with Thai’s seeking to live a healthy and active lifestyle, something I really admire about this country. This one particular day as I was rounding the far corner of the park I saw a man wearing a t-shirt that said this: I AM STILL LOST. I was instantly struck and in this moment laughter didn’t ensue, but deep thought did. As I continued to run past this man, I came to the realization that his shirt was entirely true. I am not one to make assumptions about people, but when living in a country that is 95% Buddhist this man was probably indeed, still lost. (Of course I mean that he most likely doesn’t have a relationship with Jesus) That percentage isn’t something that I think about most days. I don’t desire to be weighed down by the spiritual darkness that resides in this country, but that day I felt the weight of it all. I’ll admit that as I continued running my mind went into American missionary mode as I immediately felt somewhat responsible for this man’s salvation. I mean that is why I am ultimately here after all, right? I’m not so sure.
It’s been nearly a month since I saw this man and there hasn’t been a day that’s passed where I haven’t thought about him. As I have sat and asked the Lord who would tell that man about Jesus, I kept hearing that a Thai person would. It was in this moment that I was immediately humbled as I came to understand something pretty simple. We don’t need more missionaries; we just need to do a better job of being followers of Christ. In addition to that, we need to lean more into the work of the Holy Spirit. Upon arrival to Thailand, I was actually shocked at the number of established Christian churches here. When I hear that less than 3% of this country is Christian, I just assumed I would rarely meet someone who professed Christ, but praise Jesus that this isn’t the case for Thailand. However, in my almost nine months of being here the problem seems to be the same. We don’t need more missionaries; we just need to do a better job of being followers of Christ. The day I read that man’s shirt I felt immediate obligation for his salvation because I am the western Christian missionary here to evangelize Thailand but in all actually, that’s not at all what I want to be. I desire for that man to know the Lord desperately, but my prayer is that it would be the Thai church that reaches out to those around them and that the Thai church doesn’t become dependent on the “Western missionaries” or the NGO’s to do the work for them. When I say, “We don’t need more missionaries, we just need to do a better job of being followers of Christ” I mean that somewhere along the way we’ve become LOST by forgetting that as a follower of Christ it is our obligation to love those in front of us and reach out to the oppressed and lonely. We should not expect others do to this for us. Together we are called to usher in God’s kingdom. So be challenged by this man’s shirt and be bold to ask yourself, “in what ways am I still lost and how am I loving those who are still lost around me?”
The Spirit is moving and the Kingdom is coming, so be apart of that right where God has called you. This is my prayer for every Christian, everywhere.