Our group of CBF pastors had traveled into the hills of northern Thailand. We were introduced to a wonderful couple who served among the Bisu people. Kirk and Susie had brought their family to this primitive setting – it was a long way from Texas.
We listened as they told stories about trying to overcome the lack of trust, to allay the suspicion, to understand the culture in the village. They told us about the mixed bag of superstition and Buddhism that formed the basis of the religious life in the community. They showed us the spirit houses where the village spirits lived. They explained how the men would have to pass through the spirit gates at the edge of the forest to appease the forest gods. On the way home from their work in the woods, streams, and fields, they would have to rub against the gates to make sure they didn’t take any of the spirits back to their homes.
How do you begin to bear witness to the freedom, grace, and love of the Gospel in such a place? These Americans did not try to import customs and traditions from back home. They learned the language. They ate the food. They abided by the ways of the people.
While supported by Cooperative Baptist Fellowship resources, Kirk was also working in association with the Wycliffe Bible Translators to develop a written language for the Bisu. The tribe had migrated from Myanmar (Burma) years ago. They had never had a written language. Using Scripture as a guide, Kirk was making it possible for the villagers to not only receive a language they could see and read as well as speak; he was also introducing them to the truth of God’s Word.
Here’s an example. In the culture of the village, you would never come to the door and knock at a neighbor’s door. Instead you would stand in the yard and call out their name. So Revelation 3:20 (“Behold, I stand at the door and knock …”) became “I stand outside and call your name.”
As our time was ending, we asked this wonderful family, “What do you need?” They explained that CBF gifts provided many things, but the one thing they really needed was prayer. The work was hard and slow. Only one young woman had professed faith in Christ in all the time they had been there. I turned to Kirk and asked one more time, “What do you need?” He looked down at his feet. “These boots get a lot of wear and tear. I probably need to get some new ones.” I asked him what size he wore. Then I started unlacing mine. I had bought boots for the trip and they were still in good shape. I was just glad they fit him.
When we left the village that day, I left behind more than a pair of boots. Part of me will always be there, knowing that we are helping to support a family willing to sacrifice so much to be faithful to their call to serve.
Our goal this year for CBF Global Mission Offering is $15,000. For Kirk and Susie and all those like them, we can make a difference with our gifts.