“They don’t need you, they need the truth,” was what a missionary of 16 years in the jungles of Peru said to us a few weeks before our departure to Thailand. What amazing truth! Yes, God sends the Gospel through flesh and blood people, just as His greatest revelation of truth was in His Son, clothed in flesh. Yet, who can say, “I am what a dead and lost world needs,” except the most precious Son of God? He is the “the Way, the TRUTH, and the life.” So Thailand needs Christ, through messengers that are useless (us) without the truth that they proclaim and live out.
How amazing it’s been to witness God’s deliverance this past month! There were many huge barriers between us and some of the natives here up to this point, and some of those barriers have recently been broken by God’s almighty hand. We have prayed about it for a while, almost despairing about the chasm between us and the people we forsook our beloved family, friends, and ministry in America to help. Then, without us trying to deliver ourselves, God showed His grace towards us, doing a work in the hearts of the Thais we serve here! Of course, our hearts and service here could not remain unchanged either. Praise God!
We have begun to work more towards the church rather than the unbelievers. This means we are now focused on training Thai Christians and not as much on evangelizing the lost. Out of conviction from the Word of God, some of the young Thai men decided to start a new outreach through soccer. This is the sport most everyone plays here and about 40 local unbelieving families want us to coach their children, knowing that the Gospel will be preached to them about 4 times a week! So instead of me preaching to the heathen kids (and being, in their eyes, the paid promoter of the “foreigner”s religion”), I am now the teacher to the Thai believers that will be teaching the kids. I still go out and coach the kids, meanwhile showing them the fruit of the Gospel in my life. We see more clearly than ever that God has called us to a body-like ministry, rather than building something in our name.
Realizing that there is more than a language barrier still standing strong in the way of us being to evangelize took some time and much breaking. So what else can stand in the way? The Thai have been godless and practically gospel-less for thousands of years, so their worldview is saturated and solidified with demonic lies to the very core. Preaching that “God is love” only translates into their worldview that God is imperfect. The same things goes with preaching that “God is angry with the wicked everyday” or that “God desires all men to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Buddhism has indoctrinated them to believe that any desire, good or bad, is a sign of imperfection. So they can hear John 3:16 or Romans 5:8 and only become more proud of their Buddha for overcoming the desires the Christian God is still struggling with. Also, their culture of avoiding confrontation makes them shut down as soon as anyone would speak straight with them (but how else can I speak to someone on his way to hell?). Another big one is that the Thai Bible can only be written in the King’s Royal Thai (or else they think Jesus cannot truly be a King), which is much different than the actual Thai language and almost no Thai understands it. It’s so deeply ingrained that even the believing Thai doesn’t want to use a new translation in plain Thai language. And yet these are only a handful of the many, many blocks set up in the way of the missionary in Thailand. Without God’s loving promises and leading, we would have already been dismayed at these things. But with Him we have joy!
The English school outreaches are still operating, though my role in them is changing. I see now that it may require the Thai to learn English to get an understandable Bible translation, so I am putting forth more effort to teach them English, allowing the younger believers to preach the Gospel more. Focusing more on English also gives more merit to my word in their eyes, as two of the principles in their culture, “Gata-vati” and “Gatan-yu,” state that you must give more and more heed to the words of someone who has helped you in life, depending on how much they have helped you. English, for many Thais living around us, is the big need, so a few words about Christ from someone who has helped a Thai is usually more weighty than a sermon from a stranger. As you can imagine, this requires a more long-term approach to missions here. Pray that God gives us grace to stay here as long as we are called to.
We thank God for writing in His Word that it’s a body that God desires. We can operate according to His will with confidence that He is the Head and He knows best. His strategy for reaching the lost is the Gospel. We believe that and we hold on to it. Yet the task of effectively delivering the Gospel and not being a hindrance to it, we are convinced, is impossible without His power and much time. I think this letter should help our readers understand why Thailand has never gotten close to even just 1% of the population being Christian, or had a major revival for that matter. Still we trust that the Lord will be exalted in all the earth and that our God is powerful to save to the uttermost.
Pray for us,
The Kirillov Family
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