As you may or may not know, 2018 was a bad year for me. It was a good year for ministry but a tough year, personally.
The second day of the new year kicked off six weeks of emotional turmoil in the family with something I can't share with you here.
While we were all dealing with the suffering, I got the flu for ten days, followed by vertigo for over a week. I never had vertigo in my life.
After the dizziness subsided, I contracted Dengue Fever on a mission trip to plant our first church in Vietnam in February. While hospitalized, I also suffered from a severe throat infection that kept me in the hospital for 19 days. I lost almost 20% of my body mass because I was unable to eat or drink for nearly three weeks.
Within a few weeks of getting out of the hospital, someone close to me suffered a sudden tragic death. A month or two later, Adie was diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis at age 11 and had to wear a brace for 23 hours daily.
Then, our work permits got suspended and our Visas were under governmental observation. We had no idea if the future of our ministry was in jeopardy.
Near the end of 2018, I got in a car accident that significantly damaged my C-spine and would cause pain and neurological issues for the next three years.
After a year like that, most everyone in my life told me that God was calling me back to America. God would not want me or my family to suffer in the way we were suffering.
Our ministry, however, was growing and flourishing, although the future of our ministry was in potential jeopardy. So before our Visas got denied, I planned a leadership training weekend to get our leaders together from all over Thailand. I invited all our pastors to bring anyone in their church serving in leadership. We were going to lay groundwork for the future. Our pastors took this as an open invitation to invite everyone they knew, including their families. It was not at all what I intended. I think we had over 220 people in attendance, so I ended up sharing the gospel on the last night just because I wasn't sure who was in the room.
A young man named Sai came with his dad. Sai gave his life to Christ that night and started going to church. He subsequently reached out to his pastor a month later and asked if he would reach out to see if I would be willing to baptize him. I told Sai I would prefer his pastor baptize him, but I would come to support him. So I flew to Bangkok and got in an Uber, and I was in a bad car accident on the way to the baptism.
I never made it to the baptism service.
The next three years of my life were full of pain. I couldn't write, couldn't open the door, couldn't sleep, couldn't use my hands without severe pain. I ended up getting injections every two months just to be able to function. It was a miserable time for me.
Fast forward five years.
Last week, I went to a village outside of Mae Taeng to do ministry. Sometime in the day, a man comes up to me and says he is Ajarn Dtuk. He said thank you for sharing the gospel with my son Sai.
I didn't connect what he was saying. I just said you're welcome. He asked about my back pain and told me his son was serving God. I gave him some kind words, and that was it. I didn't know who he was.
Later he came up and showed me a picture of his baptism, and it was then that I realized who he was.
His son was the young man I was supposed to baptize before I got in the car wreck. I never saw him again and lost touch with him.
It turns out he got discipled in his church, went to college, and started a bible study in his college. His school had no Christians, so he began teaching others what he was learning in discipleship.
By the time he graduated, 15-20 new believers were coming to his college Bible study! He knew he would be leaving college soon, so Sai found someone to lead in his place after graduation. Sai's plan is to teach the new leader weekly on video call, so they can teach others.
Sai's dad said that Sai wants to go to seminary and feels the Lord calling him to full-time ministry. I told his dad to have him contact me, and we would find a way to help him.
The car accident that brought pain and 3 years of life change for me was not in vain. It was also a time where spiritual life change was birthed. Who knows how many others will be impacted by Sai and his changed life through the gospel.