|Chapter 21||A SEED IS SOWN|
Elmer, Adjan Suprom, and the children, five year old David and baby Evelyn, didn't seem to mind the bouncing around but I did! Seven hours in a Land Rover, over dirt trails and shaky log bridges was more than I could take. I had known that the trip would be rough, but I wanted to visit some of the villages before we left on furlough. Elmer had been traveling to these villages for four years while I taught in our small town and I wanted to see his ministry first-hand.
Life in the villages was difficult - no electricity, no bathrooms and no stores. Each night it was a wait-and-see game before we found out where we would spend the night. We would bathe in the river and sit on grass mats on the floor to eat. Open air evangelism conducted on straw mats.
People would stare at the strange looking foreign children with the "gold" hair.
We had an afternoon service. Many Thai children gathered to hear Adjan Suprom tell the story of Jesus. After the meeting, one little boy, about four years old, approached me. "Please come over to my house and see my mother. She just had a new baby girl." I followed the boy through some banana groves over to a small grass-roofed shelter. Inside, his mother was lying on a wooden plank bed covered by a thin Thai cloth. Underneath the bed was a low burning charcoal fire. The Thai village women believe they will recover from childbirth quicker if they abide by this custom (even though it might be 95 degrees outside). I greeted the woman and we chatted briefly.
In the evening, men, women and children from the village came and squatted outside on the ground or on straw mats to watch our slide presentation about the death and resurrection of Christ. The projector was powered by kerosene. A large white cloth, strung up between trees, served as the screen. The seed was being sown.
One day, Elmer and I walked into a Christian bookroom in Udon to visit the Perkins. A small group was gathered in anticipation of the English language Bible class that was about to begin. As we entered, a young man jumped up. "I know you! I remember you!" he exclaimed. Elmer and I looked at each other. This young man did not look at all familiar to either of us. We did not even live in Udon, yet he was insisting that he had met us.
"You came to my village when I was a small boy, about four years old. You showed slides on a big screen out in a field. I remember the picture of Jesus on the cross. I remember the foreign lady going home with me to see my mother who had just had a baby." Then Monosuk added, "And I remember the man with the big nose!" Elmer smiled. It seemed that reputation followed him wherever he went. Village Home
As Monosuk continued, my thoughts went back to that trip to his village. I remembered going to the little thatched shack to visit the Thai woman who had just given birth. "You did not return to my village," said Monosuk, looking directly at me. He was right. I had stopped traveling with the children because that trip had been so difficult-sickness, lack of food and almost unbearable roads. But Elmer had not returned either. He had so many other villages to visit that he had not been able to go back.
Monosuk continued. "My parents sent me to Udon to become a teacher. A professor at the college told me I needed to learn English and advised me to go to a book room where some missionaries taught English. When I arrived, I saw a large picture on the wall-the picture of Jesus on a cross. It was the same picture I had seen in my village when I was a little boy. I accepted Jesus as my Savior after studying here with Mr. and Mrs. Perkins."
Monosuk became a leader in Campus Crusade for Christ in Bangkok. His father and mother and brother and sister all became Christians. His sister's conversion was particularly interesting to us. One day, after we had taught a Bible class, a young teenage girl came to accept Christ as her Savior. She was the baby I had visited so many years earlier!
A seed had been sown. Years later, it bore abundant fruit.
A little Thai boy named Teerawat attended children's meetings taught by George and Edna Heckendorf in the city of Kalasin. Even at an early age this little boy wanted to become a doctor, and for good reason. His father had been accidentally shot by a hunter and did not receive medical care in time to save his life. The incident so motivated Teerawat that he enrolled in a medical school in Chiengmai in the northern part of Thailand. There the seed that had been planted in his heart as a child sprouted into life. Through the witness of a Thai doctor and the influence of Dr. Garland Bare, Teerawat Runpsaitong became a Christian.
Elmer and I met Dr. Teerawat in 1970 in a church service in Khon Kaen. He had driven over from Kalasin where he was working in a government hospital. As we talked together he shared a dream with us-a dream of having his own private hospital that would meet not only the physical needs of people, but also their spiritual needs. We encouraged him in that dream. Dr. Teerawat began with a small, two-room clinic. Right from the start he made it known that he was a Christian. A large picture of Jesus hung in the waiting area and Christian literature was piled on the tables. Dr. Teerawat moved from there to set up a 20 bed hospital right in the middle of a long, wooden, two-story building containing many little shops. Waiting rooms, offices and treatment rooms were on the first floor. The beds, on the second floor, were seldom empty.
In 1983, Dr. Teerawat's full dream became a reality. What a celebration there was for the opening of the only Christian hospital in northeast Thailand. The mayor of Kalasin was there. The governor of the province cut the ribbon and unlocked the door, officially opening a three-story, 100 bed facility. Elmer conducted the service of dedication before 300 guests. The Christian witness was obvious to all who toured the building - wall pictures of Jesus, video tapes of Bible stories on the television screen in the lobby, Christian literature displayed in conspicuous places and sacred music coming through the speakers. Elmer and I rejoiced with Dr. Teerawat and his wife. Through the years, they and their four children had become a part of our family. It was through the influence of Dr. Teerawat that our daughter Esther went to medical school and became a surgeon's assistant.
Esther helped with surgeries as a certified surgical nurse in her medical trips back to Thailand.
Seeds were sown, sometimes with tears, sometimes with misgivings, sometimes wondering if they would ever take root. What a blessing it is to see the fruit of those seeds in the lives of people like Monosuk and Teerawat Runpsaitong.
He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.
But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who bears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
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