Short-Term Ministry in Pua as Long-Term Relational Ministry
Clarice reflects on her first trip to Kathy's Home in Pua in Northern Thailand, where GBC conducts an English camp every quarter for the Hmong and Mien children staying at the home.
Christian authors, Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, conversant in development and economics, wrote in their book When Helping Hurts – “until we embrace our mutual brokenness, our work with low-income people is likely to do far more harm than good.” Unbeknownst to me, God used my time at Kathy’s Home in Pua to teach me the truth of mankind’s common brokenness and who God is to His people anew.
Who are the Hmong people?
Out of the 8 members from Grace Baptist Church who visited Kathy’s Home from 16 to 20 November 2023, there were 3 newcomers. They included Emma, Jimmy and me.
The team of 8 with Mak and Narola Sanglir. (L-R) front: Grace, Emma, Clarice and Sze Gar; back: Siew Kim, Jimmy, Narola, Kit Wan, Beh and Mak;
As newcomers, we had the privilege of visiting the church plant in Maesannan. It was a Hmong village nestled in the mountainous terrains of Pua. On the winding drive there, Mak shared that the Hmong people were displaced from the highlands of Laos during the Vietnam War.
“In Thailand, they lived in refugee camps,” said Mak as he pointed out the flimsy blue tentage on our left, which had originally housed the Hmong people. After the last refugee shelter closed, the Thailand Government resettled them in the mountains. This is evidence of God’s common grace to those made in His image.
The parable of the sower – in the Hmong village and Kathy’s home
In the Bible, God’s kingdom rule advances as people come humbly to learn from Jesus, the King (Matt 13:1-17). True to Jesus’ word, there were a host of contextual issues that led to the sieving out of the seed on poor soil and ultimately, the bearing of fruit in good soil. For example, some of the Hmong people followed the staunch Buddhist conservative monks who visited the villages to alleviate poverty, as Mak shared. It was also not uncommon to hear about children who graduated from Kathy’s home and drifted away from the faith.
Jesus’ words during the feeding of the five thousand, which was the message shared by Elder Beh, was apt. Jesus came to meet our spiritual needs – not our physical ones. The Jewish people who longed for a political king need to hear this. The Hmong children facing various hardships and temptations at school need to be reminded of this. I, living in Singapore and bogged down by the cares of career and money, need to meditate on this truth.
It is no wonder then, that Mak and Narola were overjoyed when Supakit and Rath, two former students at Kathy’s home, came back to serve the children at the home for a short stint. It also explains the 15 to 20 villagers – not throngs of people – who gathered in a tiny hut at Maesannan to worship God and listen to His word. These were powerful reminders of God’s kingdom rule advancing as people say, “come and teach us!”
We give thanks for Rath (left) and Supakit (middle) who have returned to Kathy's Home to serve for a short stint, as well as Noel (second from left) who is interning at Kathy’s Home and will be starting her Thai language study in Jan 2024.
Who is God to the Hmong Christians?
With simple hand actions, Grace Ang taught the song “My God is So Big/ My God Is All I Need” by CityAlight to the children during the three days of English Camp. The stanza in the chorus goes:
He is my strength when I cannot go on
Peace when all my power is gone
Hope, although the night is long and deep
On the last day of the English Camp, it was heartening to hear from Namtip, one of the older girls. She shared that when she is unable to go on in times of trouble, she relies on God for His strength. I was struck by this young lady’s personal understanding of who God is to her.
While I was teaching English at Kathy’s Home, I learnt much more about who God is to His people from the Hmong people and the children at Kathy’s Home. He is a God who is in the midst of us and one whom we can draw near to in times of trouble.
I am thankful to the older members who have strived to forge deep and meaningful relationships centered on God’s love in Christ, with His people. After many years of partnership, to personally witness the relational fruit borne between the team at Grace Baptist Church, the children, and the missionaries, Mak, Narola and Noel has been a sweet experience.
(Video by Emma Wong)
The next trip to Pua will be from 22 to 26 February 2024 inclusive of travelling. If you are interested, you can contact Beh Soo Hee at 97886171 or Ngiam Siew Kim at 97525589 to register your interest or find out more.
You can also visit the facebook page of Kathy's Home for more photos and updates!
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