“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one … to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:22–23
For several years, I have been receiving faithful updates from a member of Wycliffe Singapore. This kickstarted my relationship with Wycliffe and, in September 2019, my journey with God led me to participate in a short trip to Northeast Thailand organised by Wycliffe. Our team was to teach English and run activities for village school children, participate in drama and bible storytelling, and interact with teams doing language work in the area.
Although I was interested in Wycliffe’s work and also keen to reach out to village children, I initially hesitated as I was still struggling in the aftermath of dark experiences. However, God reminded me: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (1 Cor 12:9). These words carried me through and convicted me to go.
I thank God for His gracious comfort, encouragement and loving hand throughout the trip. The team experienced blessings of “heaven-on-earth” experiences as the body of Christ served together with love and unity, and as we received providential help in language and literacy.
“That they may be one…”
As Jerry Falwell has said, “Nothing of eternal value is accomplished apart from prayers”. While preparing for the trip, each member of the team individually and together, as well as my Bible Study Fellowship group, covered the trip with regular prayers. God’s loving hand had assembled a 15-strong team from countries including US, Thailand and Singapore, with members who were completely new to one another. We did not even meet some of them until the actual day of teaching!
By God’s grace, the various parts of the team came together very quickly to serve (amidst chaos at times!) and enjoy fellowship. Everyone contributed and supported one another. For example, the Thais helped modify the activities to make them more appealing to the local children. We were thankful for this spirit of unity which enabled us to glorify God “with one heart and mouth” (Rom 15:6).
God also awesomely provided strong external support in our language and literacy preparations. To help in our lesson planning, a church provided very good English–Thai teaching materials as a reference. A church brother also volunteered his time, talents and network of connections to source, design and print English–Thai teaching materials and prayer cards for the children. We were also given much good advice, excellent service and quality printing of the cards by Print & Print Pte Ltd, a company strongly supportive of Christian ministries and missions. Truly, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” (Ps 133:1).
Language and literacy
On this trip, we also learnt about how providing support in language and literacy can help in building relationships with the minority groups. We saw how the people responded much more warmly when their own language was used. This showed us how important it was to translate Scriptures into the heart languages of minority peoples. At the same time, learning English helps the children in school and enables them to access and engage with a wider world of knowledge and opportunities. We met a young lady pharmacist, now working in Bangkok, who was visiting her home town. She told us how she had had to make use of every opportunity to practise speaking English with foreigners as access to good learning opportunities were scarce in the small villages. Local churches, with the support of foreign friends, are able to reach out in friendship to meet the felt needs of the schools and communities by providing support in teaching English (and increasingly for Chinese too!) to the children.
During the trip, there was insightful sharing by Wycliffe members and local missionaries about bible translation into the heart language, reaching out to minority peoples, and ministry and practical challenges. We thank God for their willingness to leave their places of comfort and learn languages so that they can reach out, translate and teach Scriptures in the heart languages of the minority groups. Praise God for their positive, encouraging witness and testimonies in living out their faith with love and obedience.
God’s heart is for men from “every tribe, language, people and nation” (Rev 5:9) to be saved. Through economic development and technological advancements, He has brought people from everywhere to everywhere. Through language and literacy, He has opened doors to connect hearts, minds and souls. May the Body of Christ be ever willing and quick to be God’s hands and feet everywhere, serving as ONE in Christ, to achieve the desires of God’s heart!