â€‹I had an anxious feeling in my stomach as we climbed the mountain to the Doi Sutep Temple.
I had an anxious feeling in my stomach as we climbed the mountain to the Doi Sutep Temple, one of the most prominent Buddhist temples in the area. It probably was from the Sung Tau jostling me around, or maybe it was the fact that we were about to visit another religion's house of worship. Either way, it was not a good feeling.
The feeling stayed with me as I climbed the stairs, took off my shoes, and entered the temple. There I was overwhelmed with scent of incense, the sight of the relics, and the sound of prayers.
â€œAll of thisâ€¦ for what?â€ I wondered.
I tried to shake my anxious feelings and appreciate the beauty and intricacy of what was around me, but I couldn't. My head felt like it was spinning. All I could feel was the darkness and confusion in the inner court. Instead of chants, I heard desperation. When others saw a blessing from a Monk, I saw someone acting in fear. When I saw people bowing down, I empathized because I knew that they were searching for something, anything, to bring them hope. To me, it was idol worship, and I'll admit that I was angry. I understood how the prophets in the Old Testament felt when Israel was led astray in the same way. The emotions inside of me were almost too much to handle, and I just wanted to get out.
Eventually, I left and found a balcony overlooking the city of Chaing Mai. It was quiet and the view was outstanding. My friend and fellow intern, Jess, was with me. Neither of us really knew what to say or how to feel in that moment, so we started to pray over the city together.
â€œGod, where are you?â€ I asked, â€œHave any of these people heard of you?â€
My mind went back to one of our team devotions in the book of Ephesians. Paul wrote, â€œRemember that at that time you were separated from Christ, excluded from citizenshipâ€¦and without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.â€ Paul continues to write that through Jesus's death on the cross, we have been reconciled with God and have been adopted into his family. We are heirs! Because we are reconciled, we no longer have to be slaves to fear. In God we have the confidence and the freedom to approach Him and live in His unending grace. This world is full of darkness and desperation, but through Jesus we have been made children of the light. I wanted so badly for everyone in that temple to know and understand that truth!
That evening when we got back to the youth home, we were welcomed with a swarm of children and a chorus of â€œSawatdee-kaaaaa!â€ That's when I knew God had answered my question from earlier that day. I could see the joy and the love of Jesus on each one of those kid's faces. They will be the ones to step up and be the new generation of Thai Christians to shine their light. I'm so blessed to be a little part of the impact they will have. I am also thankful for the different perspective of Chaing Mai from the temple, and I will carry that with me throughout the summer. God is most definitely here and working. He is so good.
- Lydia, Venture Intern