I told you earlier about my love for missionary biographies — my admiration for the great men and women of faith who sacrificed everything to travel to unknown lands and share the gospel. They had amazing stories, which I have learned so much from. But, I always wish I could ask them: “How would you have lived if God didn’t call you to a far away land? What if He asked you to stay put? Or, what if he called you away first, and then called you home? How would your life be different when you got back?”
Since I couldn’t ask those questions to Eric Liddel, instead, I’m asking missionaries who we partner with at Forestview. Like Margie Grainger — the keen Australian woman who heads up Hand to Hand ministries in Pattaya, Thailand.
Margie is perpetually on the go. I had the privilege of getting to know her a few months ago, when Jordan and I spent time in Pattaya volunteering with Hand to Hand. Now whenever I picture Margie, I see her jetting around with a purpose, always waving her hands madly at all us volunteers, rallying us to help with some hair-brain project to serve the poor.
“Guys!” she’d yell “I just heard that the police picked up tons of Cambodian illegal immigrants last night. They’re all at the prison and haven’t eaten all day. Quick! We need to make them sandwiches!”
She never stops giving. And her generosity is motivated out of a deep sense of compassion. When I ask her about why she does what she does, it always comes back to the children in Pattaya, who she cares about so deeply. I don’t get the impression she loves them because she thinks she ought to. She genuinely loves them, like I would picture Jesus loving someone.
So, I asked Margie for some advice about how to love the poor in Thailand from my home here in Canada. She had some very wise words to share.
First, she warned me that true love and compassion for the poor is not just about having your emotions tickled. Often we hear stories about people in need, and we feel bad about it. But then we move on with our day, and think nothing more of it. This past week at our Sunday worship gathering, we were presented with the need for school sponsorships for children at Hand to Hand in Pattaya. Like many of you, I listened intently to the presentation, thought about how it was a great cause, felt somber for a few minutes, and then totally forgot. I made myself feel like I was responding, by feeling sympathetic for a moment, but I did not have true love and compassion for those children, because I did nothing to respond.
Response doesn’t always have to be giving money. And it doesn’t have to be volunteering or making a huge time commitment. But it does mean that you’ll commit to do something. Margie says the most important thing you can do for the poor in Thailand is to pray for them. Stand in the gap and intercede for them even when they don’t know what they need.
It can be difficult to know how to pray for someone you’ve never met. But Margie gave me some ideas. Of course, we can pray for their salvation. Ask God to meet their needs, to feed them, to heal them of their sickness, to give them resources to go to school. Also, pray for their governments, that they would be rid of corruption and put policies in place that help the poor. Pray against the spirits and gods of the land. Thailand is a place rife with idol worship – many of the kids at Hand to Hand wear Buddhist pendants and charms on their bodies. Pray they would take these off! Pray for the local church, that they would be equipped to do more to help the poor. And, if you’re stuck, pray through Isaiah 58 – let God’s words be your guide.
So, here you are faced with a choice. Are you going to respond to the needs of the poor in Thailand with true love and compassion? We have great capacity to love, even from so far away.
Please contact Hilary Carver if you’re interested in sponsoring a child, or learning about other ways you can get involved. firstname.lastname@example.org