FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Situated in the mountains of Thailand, the city of Chiang Mai is filled with hundreds of ancient Buddhist shrines and temples. Traveling to this city with 13 students and faculty members from Southwestern this summer, Vanessa stood in one such temple. She read a passage from Isaiah and prayed that God would open the eyes of monks who carried and venerated the temple’s idols:
“Those who pour out their bags of gold and weigh out silver on a scale—they hire a goldsmith and he makes it into a god. Then they kneel and bow down to it. They lift it to their shoulder and bear it along; they set it in its place, and there it stands; it does not budge from its place. They cry out to it but it doesn’t answer; it saves no one from his trouble” (Isaiah 46:6-7, HCSB).
As she read, Vanessa says, she saw Isaiah’s prophecy enacted. The people of Chiang Mai, like many throughout the world who have not heard the Gospel, “worship things that can’t talk, can’t see.”
Vanessa and her husband, Bobby, have followed God’s call to take Christ’s light to a dark world—whether they are at home or abroad. Today, they live in the Ladera Palms apartments and reach out to their international neighbors—refugees and immigrants from Burma, Nepal, Thailand, Somalia, the Ivory Coast and the Congo.
Bobby, a student in the College at Southwestern, is preparing to serve in overseas missions, although he was unable to go to Chiang Mai. But Vanessa, pregnant with her first child, felt that this was her last opportunity, without a child, to prepare for a life of missions by going on a short-term mission trip with the seminary.
Another couple from the College at Southwestern, Paul and Kristen, felt that God confirmed their call to the mission field while serving in Chiang Mai. They also realized that, as they continue to prepare for God’s call, they have a mission at home.
“Kristen and I really fell under conviction to be more intentional about sharing the Gospel to our friends and family that don’t know Christ,” Paul says. Both he and Kristen came home with a desire to be more intentional about sharing the Gospel.
“It is more important than our jobs,” he says. “It’s more important than our education. It is so easy to get distracted, but (we want) to make sure that we’re Gospel-centered.”
During the mission trip, Kristen met Vanessa, and they worked together to bring Christ’s light to the people of Thailand. In a Chiang Mai mall, they spoke with a Thai girl, but before they could share the Gospel with her completely, a security guard told them to leave. Before the guard forced them out, however, Vanessa wrote down her contact information on a tract and slipped it to the girl.
This girl “later messaged me on Facebook and was interested in learning about Christ,” Vanessa says. Both she and Kristen have remained in contact with her through Facebook, giving them another opportunity to reach a dark world for Christ from their homes in Fort Worth.