I have found myself living amidst the most beautiful, united community of believers. They're incredible. Really. I am staying at a church in Northern Thailand that supports many ministries; teaching English to students, visiting HIV patients, playing an active role in orphans' lives, etc. In Thailand, a country almost completely Buddhist, being a Christian is a lonely lifestyle; so all the believers within an hour or so radius of the church seek refuge and company here. Sometimes when Thais convert to Christianity, they are shunned in their community, kicked out of their family. Sometimes when they convert to Christianity, they lose their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters...so we become their brothers, and their sisters, their mothers and their fathers. They have no community, so we create a new one together. They spend a lot of their free time hanging out here, at the church, because sometimes, this is the only place besides their own house that they feel welcome. The church office has a community table, and everyone brings an offering: homemade banana bread, octopus noodles, pineapple--and then we share everything an no one goes without.
When I arrived, I expected to be surrounded by mainly Thais because, hello, it's Thailand. Miss Obvious. So I was pleasantly surprised when I began meeting missionaries from Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Malaysia, Mississippi, Alabama, South Africa. The Lord had called the most diverse, unique people that each corner of the world could offer all to the same place, all at the same time. However, it's not so much that there are the Thais, then the Europeans, and then the Westerners. There's just...us. People. That have somehow come together.
Now, the church's CD stash is minimal, and we only have one WOW! Worship CD, so that disk gets played, and replayed, a lot. A lot. In the church vehicles, during church events, during any event that calls for music playing in the background, etc. etc. So we hearthe songs on that particular WOW! CD quite a lot, and a lot. Anyways, one of the tracks is that Matt Maher masterpiece, Hold Us Together. Besides just being awesome, it's kind of my anthem for the next two months, and how I view the dynamics of the awesome family in Christ I have found here:
"It don't have a job, don't pay your bills
Won't buy you a home in Beverly Hills
Won't fix your life in five easy steps
Ain't the law of the land or the government
But it's all you need
And love will hold us together
Make us a shelter to weather the storm
And I'll be my brother's keeper
So the whole world will know we're not alone"
Everyone here is such a role model for me. They really represent what it means to allow love to overcome language barriers, different lifestyles, and diversity so that they can be one body, accepting and welcoming and absolutely beautiful.