Night Lights

When I was a kid, a night light provided just the perfect amount of direction for a late night trip to the bathroom or a sneak for a snack from the kitchen. A night light’s not hardly noticeable in the day, but they pop at night. Even a very dim night light draws your attention almost magnetically in the dark.

Spiritually, I have to admit, I often take for granted that I live in much “light” when it comes to my faith as a Christian in the US. As a pastor, I can speak freely of Jesus. As a pastor in the South, I speak freely to people who know the name of Jesus and have likely been to church. I’ve been privileged to grow up in a very “Christian” world with a Christian education, Christian friends, and even a Christian career. We’ve got much work to do in the US, but I mustn’t forget that so much around me is bright.

I think that’s why the “dark” of Thailand has gripped me so much. I’ve gone on mission trips before, but I’ve never been to a country so blinded in its dark, night-like lostness. Religiously, a pragmatic Buddhism blended with animistic faiths lead people to fear spirits, worship wood and metal idols, and seek luck by paying for “merit.” Morally, some of the country’s dark, seedy streets teem with sensuality that’s invites provocatively a worship of self indulgence. Traditionally, the country’s Buddhist roots and cultural structures of honoring elders place an allegiance to family that hinders changing of religious faith. It’s as if someone has turned the lights out on the entire nation.

But, the darkness makes the night lights stand out. A team in a large Thai city is engaging in schools, reaching into the Red Light district, and teaching English to college students.

In the dark spiritual night of Thailand, their night lights are burning bright!

Another team is plowing new ground in a South Thailand region by witnessing door-to-door, working alongside church plants, and engaging English-speaking college students.

In the dark spiritual night of Thailand, their night lights are burning bright!

In the middle of the country, other personnel is training pastors, planting gardens, providing water filters, and even giving livestock to open doors for the bright light of the Gospel.

In the dark spiritual night of Thailand, their night lights are burning bright!

I’ve been privileged to meet many of these “night lights” God has placed for Thailand to see. Monty and Jermaine, CJ and Julie, Doug and Cheryl, David and Pamela, Tom and Susan, Rob and Nicole, Quentin and Kim, Jeremy and Christine, Matt and Erin, Cale and Julie, Tony and Kim, Stephen and Emily, Kelli, Ann, MaKenzie, Rachel, Litza, Anna, Angela, and Mikayla along with many, many others dot the spiritual darkness across this country like beautiful night lights.

Each of these I’ve mentioned by name above serve as International Mission Board personnel in Thailand. After meeting them over the past few weeks, I have never been prouder to be a Southern Baptist. If you are giving to our SBC Cooperative Program and our Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, I would give you personal testimony that dollars in Thailand are going to excellent use pushing back the darkness one night light at a time.

Jesus said,

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew‬ ‭5:14-16‬ ‭(ESV‬‬)

These lights are burning brightly all over this country. And my favorite thing about each of these night lights is they really only seem to care that Thailand see the Light of the World and give him glory. I’m glad I’ve been here now. I suspect the more these burn here, the more lights will pop up. And it may just be that one day, Thailand may be so bright you won’t even notice the night lights!