WHAT HAPPENED AT YWAM TOGETHER 2018 IN THAILAND
Robert was born into a warrior tribe in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. You’ve probably seen photos of the fierce-looking men with their feather headdresses, tribal tattoos and piercings. When he was a boy a Catholic Priest came to his village and before long the entire tribe was baptised and “became Christians”. Before he was 12 years old, he had exams that would determine whether or not could get anything beyond a rudimentary education. With his limited understanding, he prayed, “God if you help me pass these exams, I will become a priest.”
“Yes, you can be a missionary!”
He studied hard and did very well on the exams and got to go to a good high school some distance away. During those years he was exposed to the Gospel message and gave his life to Jesus. Then the Holy Spirit called him to be a missionary and he was so excited! When he went home, he talked to the priest who told him, “Only white men can be missionaries.” So he visited a missionary some distance away. When he arrived and knocked on the door, the missionary opened the door, but did not let him in. When Robert explained his calling, the missionary turned him away saying, “That’s just not possible. Go back to your village!”
A couple of years later a YWAM team visited his village and a girl on the team said, “Yes, you can be a missionary!” She told him about DTS (Disciple Training School) and how it can be a doorway to a life in missions.
Today, Robert is the YWAM leader of a large and fruitful national work in south Asia. He was the MC for one of our main sessions and told his story before the worship band from his adopted country led us. He has such a gentle and secure authority about him. I couldn’t help but wonder what the missionary who turned him away would think if he saw him addressing and inspiring nearly 4000 other missionaries.
Then there was the Cambodian YWAM leader who first met YWAM teams when his mother and siblings were refugees from “the killing fields” and the YWAMers fed them in the refugee tent city. They were not amongst the thousands who gave their life to Christ at that point. When the communist regime was defeated, his mother took her children back to Cambodia, but could not find work. The children collected plastic bottles to recycle and other rubbish that they could pick through to help them survive.
Finally his mother concluded that she would have to give them all up for adoption but she couldn’t find an orphanage that would take them. She had one last organisation on her list, YWAM. When she called at their community house, they also said, “No we can’t take your children.” But they went on to explain the importance of family and said, “We will take you all.”
“Marti and I were in Kabul in 1971, we could not have even imagined it.”
Today the missionary force is growing dramatically as the Cambodians, Papuans, Nepalese, Mongolians, Burmese, Egyptians, Algerians—and on and on join the “labourers in the harvest fields”. YWAM Together 2018 had over 100 nationalities in attendance, more than 150 mother-tongues spoken, more than 100 from Nepal, hundreds from India and Thailand and so many more. We were led by 14 different MCs (about equal numbers of young men and women), and the same number of worship bands. It was so inspiring to see a young man from Afghanistan speaking with boldness to an audience of nearly 4000. When Marti and I were in Kabul in 1971, we could not have even imagined it.
400-500 YWAM volunteers served during YT 2018 often missing sessions to bless and serve others. And above the boxes of Gospels of Luke being prepared for distribution in Pattaya.
On the Wednesday of our week together, we went into the city of Pattaya, best known as a world centre of the “sex business”. We had the Gospel of Luke in a very attractive SourceView, modern Thai translation. It is designed specifically for people to read it aloud to one another in small groups. We distributed nearly 40,000 Bibles door-to-door, and a further 70,000 will be distributed by Christmas. The stories afterward confirmed again and again that “the fields are white unto harvest”.
Thai police received copies of the Gospel of Luke and people in Pattaya were seen reading these Gospels of Compassion from Luke all throughout the week.
Marti and I went to a small church and met with some of their enthusiastic members who went with us to translate. But first, they wanted me to preach the gospel to half a dozen workers who were painting the church building. It seemed a bit awkward at first, being asked to preach to a captive audience. But it quickly became more relaxed and they listened intently before our team prayed with each one of them and gave them the Bibles.
We then started visiting houses but didn’t get very far because each house was home to several adults and they wanted to hear more and receive prayer. We ended up giving away only 13 Bibles, but prayed for the same number of people. One of them was a Buddhist monk who was paralyzed. As we prayed, the Holy Spirit came on him and he began to be visibly moved. Then he spoke through his translator and said, “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry!” So he did both. He wasn’t instantaneously healed and we have no way of knowing whether that was the beginning of healing. All we know is that God touched him very deeply.
Over the years, Marti and I have done our share of door-to-door evangelism in English-speaking nations and the most common response by far is something like, “No thanks, I’m not interested.” That is definitely not the response we can expect in most of the world. They are VERY interested, but there are too few people to tell them about God’s love for them and the redemption through Jesus. Our conference was full of many hundreds of testimonies of first-generation believers whose lives have been transformed by Jesus. I could go on and on with just the stories of people with whom we shared one of the meals during the week: Lydia from Ethiopia, Opal from Thailand, Joy working in Cambodia and on and on.
There were also many themes and powerful messages. David Demian brought a clear prophetic challenge around the theme of the conference, which was from Revelation 4:1, “Come up here and I will show you the things that will happen after this.” One thing that will happen is that God will work with His people who take the Good News to every person.
This is already very long so I will close with one challenge from the week. When Loren Cunningham was in Mongolia recently, the Holy Spirit spoke to him and said this is the time to reach the entire nation. Next summer, we are trusting God to have 1000 teams of three to take the gospel to every home in Mongolia and to leave a Bible in all 600,000 of them. In the 1980s, there were few enough known believers that you could count them on one hand. Now there are sufficient that they can come up with a Mongolian speaking team member for every one of the teams.
LET ME KNOW IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN THIS ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME IN ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD!