Jamie, SP staff in Bangkok, and GoyYaa taste the sweet freedom from fear and sin that only Jesus can bring.
“Jamie, do you know any stories about God? Do you think you could teach me about Him?” said a sweet 11 year old who participated in our English Camp in Bang Rak. Floored by her request I stammered out a very enthusiastic, “Yes,” and we started studying the Bible together the next day.
GoyYaa is the daughter of two Thai Christians. Her family is the only Christian family we have met in Bang Rak. GoyYaa’s parents send her and her brother to Catholic boarding school three hours away from home in hopes of giving their children a solid, Christian education. GoyYaa has caught glimpses of God’s character and of the stories in the Bible, and that has led her to ask for my help in understanding who this Jesus was and what he means for her life.
We sat down after each English class for the rest of the week and read through stories on the life of Jesus. We started with Jesus’ birth, childhood, beginning of his ministry, baptism, temptation, healings, and teachings. She ate up every word and was always asking for more stories about Jesus. I could barely keep up!
One day, as her mom picked her up from the community space where we were studying. Another mom approached us and asked what I was teaching. GoyYaa’s mom and I explained that GoyYaa had been interested in learning the Bible and that I was happy to teach her. This Buddhist mother enthusiastically asked if her daughter could come as well. GoyYaa’s mom and I were confused; she heard that we were teaching the Bible, right? The Christian Bible?
We checked. “Yes,” she said, “I know. And I want my daughter to study with you.” Well, we couldn’t fight her; she was insistent. In fact, she was so persistent that she sent her daughter the next day along with a group of three of her little friends. “Ok, you’re all here to study the Bible, right?” I checked. “Yep!” they all replied. So we dove right in.
The Lord truly moved that day. The Bible study was going really well until all of a sudden, the kids seemed fixated on one point in the story: heaven. Except, they only knew about the opposite: hell. The stories they shared about hell were so awful! Their Buddhist families and schools have definitely scared them about the idea of hell. I sat there feeling like this Bible study had just spiraled out of control as story after story got bloodier and scarier and darker. What kind of Bible study leads children to share about the horrors of hell?
I prayed and asked Jesus what to do. “Just listen, don’t worry, but talk about me as soon as you can,” I heard in my heart. Which is what we did, got back on track to talking about Jesus’ life again.
After about an hour the other kids lost interest or were called in to eat supper, which left GoyYaa and me sitting there together. GoyYaa and I had formed a really special bond since we started these Bible studies, and she seemed to feel free to tell me anything. Once we were alone, the flood gates seemed to open up, and this sweet, shy girl talked and talked.
Eventually, she got a really reflective look on her face and said, “Jamie, I want Jesus to wash away my sin. I want to go to heaven.” “Well, ok,” I said, “We can do that right now. All you have to do is pray. Jesus will wash away all of your sins, and you can trust that He will take you to heaven.” GoyYaa nodded. We prayed. She is only 11, but heaven received another sweet soul that day. Praise God for how He moved in this sweet girl’s heart and for the faith she has in Jesus—the only one who can wash away her sins.