A few nights ago three of the kids and I were in the downtown area of Chiang Rai, planning to head home and play some family games. Our plans changed unexpectedly when I got a call from G, saying that a girl she knew needed an urgent ride to the hospital. G was over by her college, so we hopped in our sometimes-trusty missionary-mobile and headed that direction. Unfortunately the Saturday night market was in full swing and many of the roads were closed to cars, which meant we had to zigzag our way across town while not knowing just how serious the problem might be. When we finally made it to G, she quickly jumped in the front of the car to direct me to her friend’s place.
We drove down the dark, crowded streets in that area, until G grabbed my arm and said, “Turn here!” I couldn’t turn unless I wanted to hit a night market roadblock, so I parked the car illegally and turned on the emergency lights. We dashed down the street on foot while motorbikes swerved around us (no sidewalks).
We were nearly to the end of the street before we took a sudden left down an even darker alley and then walked into a small parking area for motorbikes. A few items of clothing dangling off a line were the only indication that this was actually a residence. I followed G through a cramped dirty hallway until she reached a door and started knocking. When there was no reply, she opened the door and we went in to see a young girl lying on the only piece of furniture in the small room, a bed. Her skin was pale and it was obvious that she had been crying from the pain. She couldn’t walk, so I watched as G bent over and lifted the girl onto her back. We exited the building headed back the way we came, G bent over with the weight of the girl on her back and me forging a path through honking motorbike drivers. When we made it to the car and carefully slid the girl in the back seat, she cried out in tremendous pain.
We dropped the Thai girls at the hospital and headed home, as we couldn’t help further with our limited language skills and we had no useful background information on her. We later found out that the girl, Mint, had a large tumor on her abdomen. She had been incapacitated for four days, stuck on her bed in pain and with no one to care for her. Mint is only sixteen years old, living on her own. She’s barely scraping by while attending trade college in the city.
This, again, is an example of what so many kids here are up against. There are no government social programs and very, very few churches around to look out for kids like this. In most cases the parents, if they are even in the picture, do not have the resources to help. So at just 16, Mint is left alone to make adult decisions and take care of adult problems. And if she can’t do it, that’s it. She is left to succumb to a medical issue or tempted into a life of exploitation to survive. She couldn’t afford to call for an ambulance (they are all run privately and are quite expensive), and we were the very first connection she had to a car!
Our hearts broke for this young girl, and it was a reminder to me of how badly missionaries are needed here. Ultimately we want to see people restored to Christ by becoming disciples. But to do that, often we first have to meet a desperate physical or emotional need. Mint is not a runaway, hiding from her parents or hooked on drugs. She is just a normal Thai girl, trying her best to learn a trade and get a certificate so she can earn a meager living.
Someone interested in serving on the mission field recently asked me if our work basically took place between 9-5. I laughed at how “our work” has such a broad definition sometimes that we could never really quantify it that easily. Partly because “our work” is really God’s work. Sometimes that means writing emails and attending planning meetings, and sometimes it means just being available to love the people God puts in our path. Whether it’s driving a new mother to her family’s village or rushing a young girl to the hospital, acting as surrogate parents or providing a bed for a few nights, helping enroll someone in classes or providing some pedal bikes for safe travel to work, or whatever else might come up. It’s all “our work” here. And while we’re never really off work, we do have our downtime. We know that to be effective we need to rest when we are able. This is what it means for us to be the hands and feet of God.
As for Mint, we are happy to share that someone was able to get up into her village to alert her parents, and her mom is now helping to take care of her. Please pray with us for her continued healing.
Someone interested in serving on the mission field recently asked me if our work basically took place between 9-5. I laughed and thought of how it resembled that in the beginning, but has since morphed into what it is now. We have our downtime, and know that to be effective we need that, but we are often called into helping someone. Whether it’s to move a girl back to her village, or take someone to the bus station, or be surrogate parents, there is always something going on outside of “work hours”.
We pray to be the hands and feet of Jesus wherever he leads us. It’s tiring sometimes but ultimately so rewarding to help those who need it so much.
As for Mint? We are happy to share that someone was able to get up into her village to alert her parents, and her mom is now helping to take care of her. Please pray for her continued healing.