I’m so excited to introduce all of you to my good friend, Kristen, or as I affectionately call her, “Krispy,” back from our YWAM Oxford days together! I met Kristen 6 years ago in New Zealand, and I have been blessed to follow her life adventures which have taken her on many global missions, unexpected seasons of illness at home and now into new cross-cultural missions in Asia! Enjoy my friend as she shatters some missionary stereotypes and shares about the things she’s learning as she follows her Lord into new cultural realities.
A Life of Worth: Man’s Plans, God’s Steps
When the word ‘missionary’ comes to mind what do you think?
Is it grass huts?
People who have never heard of Jesus?
Preaching on a street corner?
Is it living perfectly?
Being perpetually happy?
Never being angry?
Spending every moment of every day praying and worshipping?
I am originally from Michigan in the United States, and I am currently a full time missionary in Northern Thailand, but my life does not look like either of those scenarios. I live in a two story, three bedroom house with electricity, running water, and wifi. I am still a human who tries to live everyday in the joy of the Lord, but some days I get angry when I see the kids I work with, with no shoes again or black eyes. I wish I was happy all the time – but when you work in the darkness of the red-light district every night, you have to battle against being sad for these people stuck in bondage, and praise even when your flesh doesn’t feel like it.
What I can tell you is this, being a full time missionary overseas is probably a lot different than you have pictured in your head.
For two and a half years I lived and worked out of the Youth With A Mission base in New Zealand. I was very far from home, but still in a culture similar to my own in a country whose native language was English. I didn’t know anyone there when I moved, but I found myself living with many people from North America, so there were not many cultural differences to deal with. I was an overseas missionary who felt like I was living in the same world I had come from.
Now I live in South East Asia. After three months of living here I can go to the market and ask for fruit, or dinner and pay without being confused – but if I get lost there is a 50/50 chance that I am either not going to be understood when I ask for directions, or I won’t understand the directions that are given to me. Culturally the differences are in abundance. The food is different, the weather is different, the language is very different.
I’m living in a completely different world these days.
But what I have learned is that when God calls you into something, there is always a purpose. My purpose is an 8 year old little boy who has been stuck in forced labor trafficking in Northern Thailand. He was forced to work until 1 or 2 in the morning every night selling flowers. He often shows up with no shoes, or a black eye and often has not eaten dinner.
My purpose is not to preach on street corners and see hundreds come to Jesus. My purpose is to show this little kid the love of Jesus. To buy dinner for him, provide shoes for him and figure out a way to get him out of the hell that he’s living in. He doesn’t care that I don’t speak the language. He doesn’t care that I sometimes mess up and don’t understand the culture. He doesn’t care that I might not know what food he’s asking for, for dinner. He cares if I follow through, if I show up when I say I’m going to.
And he’s worth it. Even when it sometimes takes me days to find him – he’s always worth it. To be able to buy him dinner, or give him shoes. It’s worth it. The day I’m able to get him out of there will make every day of frustration and feeling out of place in a new world worth it.
This past week I was able to work with some people in Social Services, and Child Protective services and have two of the boys that I have connected with taken out of the red light district. These are little kids who have been forced to sell flowers to the foreigners in bars every night of the week until 1 am. Kids who have lost their childhood, and have been growing up seeing things and hearing things that they shouldn’t have to be around.
Unfortunately the kids were taken into custody, and almost immediately allowed to go back home. But the bright side – they are no longer working in the red light district. Charges were pressed against their parents for allowing them to work, so the kids aren’t selling flowers anymore! Tonight I walked through the red light and saw one of my boys. He was just walking down the street, not working. I was able to tell him that I would bring games tomorrow and food. He smiled with excitement.
Four months ago I was serving people coffee – and now I get to hang out with these awesome kids and show them the love of Jesus. And as God leads, I’m able to see them one by one come out of the bondage they’ve been held in.
Sometimes what God asks us to do looks a lot different from what we have in our minds – but if it’s within His plan, and His purpose – it’s worth it. When God asked me to come to Thailand He clearly spoke Proverbs 16:9 “In His heart a man plans his course, but The Lord determines his steps.” My plan looked different in my mind than the steps God asked me to take – but He knew my heart and His way is better than mine.
About the Author:
I am an ordinary girl, who serves an extraordinary God. A former Starbucks barista, I sold everything I owned and moved to Northern Thailand not knowing what was in store, but coming because God asked me to. I now find myself on a rollercoaster adventure of faith. Website: http://joininkristensjourney.blogspot.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kristen.wilkes.581 Twitter: @KristenMarie549