AUTHOR: Missionary, Shawna Jerch
This story account is a first-person viewpoint of a GTN Missionary in Thailand, experiencing the recently-launched Timothy Internship Program in Southeast Asia.
The morning sun began to peek over the roofs of Thai buildings, playfully chasing away the cool air and hinting to us that today would be toasty. I glanced at its brilliant rays as I paced back and forth in front of the prayer room windows. The delicate picking on the guitar strings combined with the hum of our prayers as God continued to communicate His love for us and His precious Thai children. These morning times had become invaluable to me, as we interns gathered in unity to worship, sit in God’s presence, and pray strategically for people, places, and strongholds in Chiang Rai. A smile came to my face as I thought about God’s goodness and I whispered, “Daddy, surprise me today.”
It was just another ordinary day in the Timothy Internship but I knew that that meant it would be entirely extraordinary. Each ordinary day thus far had carried experiences, revelations, and relationships that were outside of the realm of what I might typically consider normal. I saw love invade the shadowy streets lined with flashy bars and held the women inside of them as they unraveled in my arms. I interceded as, on each block, I walked past a temple or an idol, their golden structures covered in flowers and the offerings left by the ordinary people bowing down to them. I sat in coffee shops with my language helper when, instead of working with me on my Thai pronunciation, she asked me questions about Christianity and the loving God I serve. The surprise in store that particular day was the opportunity to pray with a French woman who had come to a temple in Chiang Rai seeking enlightenment, but instead encountered the love of Jesus. Every day was a new experience, just as precious as the one before.
But if these stories were all I told you, it wouldn’t accurately portray all that had been stirred in my heart in my time in that beautiful nation. There in the “pressure cooker” I learned lessons that would typically take months or years to grasp, and most importantly I was pursued by the fierce and faithful love of my Father. I find it extremely ironic that God took me from the “Bible Belt” to a nation that is so consumed with Buddhism and idol worship in order to show me more about myself and more about Him. Surrounded by all the heartbreaking spiritual depravity I saw Jesus do extravagant things. However, when it comes down to it, there is nothing more extravagant than a changed life. And now, looking back, four months after saying farewell to Thailand, I am certainly a completely different girl than when I began. And I can just imagine God’s face looking down at me laughing with pleasure and saying, “Surprise!”