Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Påske: Thai Style

      A huge part of my ministry in Norway is mobilizing teenagers for mission. We spend the year teaching and discipling these graduating high school seniors, but taking them through a time of practical application is so essential for bridging the gap between recognizing the needs of the world and actively taking steps toward being apart of the solution. So for Easter break (Påske in Norwegian), along with three other leaders, I led a team of 18 and 19-year olds to Fang, Thailand to work with the Shan people (Burmese refugees living in the northwest of Thailand). Denied official recognition from the Thai government, the Shan have no opportunity to send their children to school and often have to work 12+-hour shifts on less than 1/3 the national average wage. The Shan Outreach Center (SOC) established by YWAM has been working among the Shan as they wait out the war in their home country, providing discipleship and education for over a decade, so we joined in to support their work for the week. 
     The girls spent their days divided between the SOC's two primary schools teaching English and Bible stories while the guys helped to repair the school building that had been destroyed during the rainy season. At night, the team split up into small groups to go out to Shan communities with local pastors to share their testimonies and to preach the gospel. The grand finale to our outreach was a Påske Festival (traditional Norwegian Easter party) that we hosted for around 300 Buddhist Shan in the area. The team led worship, shared testimonies, told the Easter story, and performed a dance and a skit. I was so impressed with the initiative that they took and the effort the put into preparing for the event! 
     I can't even tell you how proud and impressed I was with this group of teenagers who were so willing to serve in even the lowliest jobs and were practically begging for more opportunities to share what Jesus had done in their lives. Throughout the week a totally incapacitating stomach virus swept through the team, infecting all but 4, but even that didn't hold them back. One Norwegian girl was struck with a violent bout of vomiting on the way to a house visit but insisted on continuing to the meeting because she felt such a passion and urgency to share with them about Jesus. Her words pierced the heart of one woman who became a follower of Jesus that night and is now being followed up  with discipleship from the SOC. That's just one of a dozen stories of how God worked through this perseverant group of young people from half a world away! I was so blessed by this trip and I can't wait for the three just like it I'll be leading next school year to Tanzania. 

Below is a video I put together of the outreach, and it says visually what I can't express in words! (Photos follow)