As the day approached though, we learned that he was afraid to sleep at our house.
Today's story is shared by one of our missionaries in Thailand.
Several months ago we asked for prayer concerning our search for a new house. We found a place shortly after that and have settled in nicely (or slowly, depending on how much you value curtains). Our family's presence quickly changed the atmosphere of the street, mainly due to our toddler's lack of an inside voice and inability to identify a stranger.
As we've began doing life alongside them, certain issues have arose. Do we allow our child to play with the candles and sand they use in their sacrifices and ceremonies to spirits? Do we correct them when they say we were going to church to make merit? Next door there is a family of four. The dad works for three months in the Philippines, comes home for 10 days and then continually repeats this cycle. The daughter is getting ready to transition to university life in Bangkok, and her younger brother is struggling through normal middle school issues. The mother stays at home and seems to concern herself mainly with tending her garden and making sure that my wife is adequately hydrated (Apparently coconut water is a must for expectant mothers!).
During a period when the dad was away, the daughter needed to be in Bangkok for testing so the mother asked us if we could babysit the 13 year old son. We assumed that meant making sure he got to and from school safely and ate something without sugar as a main ingredient every once in awhile. We even offered for him to stay at our house. As the day approached though, we learned that he was afraid to sleep at our house. Unsure of why, we ended up agreeing that the best solution was for me to spend the night over at their house. After the mother and sister left and I went over to the house to assume my babysitting duties I saw that the boy had made a bed on the floor in front of the couch. I realized that it wasn't that he was afraid to sleep at our house - he is afraid to sleep alone because of a fear of ghosts and spirits. So I laid on the couch two feet away from him as we fell asleep watching one of the Jurassic Park movies dubbed over in Thai.
This is the spiritual poverty that is prevalent here. This perception of the spiritual realm, the fear it creates and the efforts to appease these spirits that it demands, impact every aspect of the lives of Thai youth. Understanding our context of the youth we focus on begins with understanding the shadow Buddhism casts on this kingdom. May our neighbor and all the youth in the youth homes we serve come to fear only the One True God.