While I lived in Thailand some days I would head to a slum community in the Prawat District outside of Bangkok. I would greet P’Noi at the Ruth Center and she would give me some work to do, like making stencils or cutting pieces of fabric for the Dream Project.
In the afternoon we would walk through the slums, play with the children, and speak with the elderly, many of whom are sick and depressed.
When the day was done I would walk the long, dusty road back to town to catch the bus, to avoid cramming onto a songthaew weighed down with school children.
By the time I got to the bus stop I was drenched in sweat and my calves were caked with dirt, but I never felt so beautiful. By then we had hit rush hour, so it would usually take 1.5 hours to get back into the city. But I didn’t mind. It was time well spent.
There is something about sharing in the sufferings of the poor in spirit that allows you to become one with the Kingdom of God. I can’t say that I have ever experienced the Kingdom to the extent that I did when I was in Thailand. I longed for Jesus more than anything else.
When I came back to Canada I hated the way that we did life here. I hated the materialism. I hated the way our culture told us to want “stuff” and we just listened. And then I hated the way I started wanting stuff too. But then it became normal. And now I have trouble remembering what the Kingdom feels like. And I have trouble longing for Jesus.
The reality is that I don’t have to go back to Thailand to experience it again. I can experience it right here in my own neighbourhood. But first I have to get back to the place where I die to myself, and I die to my own desires, and I die to all those things that I want to own and experience to make my kingdom come, and I learnthat’s when I’ll come alive, and that’s when I’ll get to experience God’s Kingdom here on earth.
Having tasted and seen, I know that there’s nothing better. That’s what I long for.