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Shining the Light of Jesus on a University Campus

By Nixson and Rhonda*

Nixson:

After an intense day of class, I left the classroom building and headed to the dorms. I was planning to go rest for a while before doing my homework, but on the way to my room I passed many of my friends who asked me to go the fitness center with them. My desire to build a relationship with my friends and show them the love of Jesus was greater than my desire to rest. So after changing out of my school uniform, I headed to the fitness center, where my friends were waiting for me. After working out for a couple hours, we went to eat supper together and had a good evening of sharing with each other. Instead of feeling tired, I felt reenergized after being with them. I headed to my room to get ready for bed, but more people came to see me in my room. They just wanted someone to talk to, someone who could listen and give them advice, someone who was willing to just stay up late and watch TV with them. So before going to sleep for the night, I spent a few hours talking and sharing with my friends in my room.

I started studying at KBU in Bangkok, Thailand in 2010. My goal in studying was to prepare myself to get a job in Thailand in the future, but even more than that, my goal was to have a ministry on campus. I will always remember the first people that I got to know at the university. I was far away from home and missing my family, and many of the other students were also far away from home and missing their families. One of the first people I got to know became one of my best friends.

Por is a young man from northern Thailand, and was really struggling in his first few months at KBU. I met him when I was moving my stuff into my room my first day at the university, and he came to help me. We started spending time together and sharing with each other. We became like brothers, and eventually he felt comfortable opening up to me. He shared with me how his mother had died, and he was in conflict with his dad, because his dad didn’t take care of his mom while she was sick. Also, his girlfriend left him, and he felt like he didn’t have any reason to live. Many times he thought it would be better for him to die. I believe that God brought us together in his perfect timing. I shared with him about Jesus and about God’s plan for our lives. No matter what is happening in our lives, God still has a plan for us. We started to study the Bible together, and he started to discover and understand the things I was sharing about. The Holy Spirit was working in his life, and he changed faster than I knew was possible. He became a believer and eventually was baptized.

The beginning of my time at KBU was easier than the end. It was very exciting at first, getting to know people, being able to share my faith with them, and seeing them interested in the Bible. But as people became believers and went deeper, they had more tests to their faith, and it became harder for me to disciple them through many tough situations. I had to rely even more on God for strength and wisdom as I walked with my friends.

The first relationships I made opened the door to additional relationships which enabled me to disciple more people. Pong was another one of my good friends. We got to know each other through going to the gym together. Even before I shared my faith with him, he was able to see that there was something different about me. He always had a lot of questions for me. Questions like: Why are you different from the other foreigners? Why are you so calm and not stressed or worried about things? My answer was always Jesus. Through those conversations, I was able to share my faith with him, and he continued to ask me more about Jesus. Every time that he had trouble or needed someone to talk with, he came to me. When he was having trouble with his girlfriend, he came to me and I was able to encourage him and help him through the situation. When he was trying to find a job, he came to me to ask for advice and prayer. Before, when Pong was feeling down about something, he would go out and get drunk. But later, he would come to me. I know that it wasn’t what I was doing, but it was the way that the Holy Spirit was working is his life, and using me to be part of that.

"I know that it wasn’t what I was doing, but it was the way that the Holy Spirit was working is his life, and using me to be part of that."Another opportunity I’ve had through my relationships at the university is getting to know the families of my friends. Over a holiday one time Pong went to visit his family in Northeastern Thailand. In his first couple days there, he was sharing with his family about me and how I was different than his other friends. He shared with them how it was Jesus that made me different. His family wanted to meet me, so Pong called and asked if I could travel there and spend the rest of the holiday at his home. I was able to spend a few days with Pong’s family, sharing with them about my faith in Jesus. And the next time Pong went home, I went with him again to spend more time with his family.

One of the biggest challenges in working with Thai people is their lack of commitment. They are open to accepting any religion for other people, but it is hard for them to make a change like that in themselves. Buddhism is so deeply engrained in the Thai culture that it is usually very difficult for a Thai person to make a commitment to Jesus and leave their Buddhist beliefs behind. Many seekers say that they are “part Christian” and “part Buddhist.” That is easier and more comfortable for them than trying to change their whole life and being ridiculed by their family and friends. It usually takes Thai people a long time to make a full commitment to Jesus. My job is to patiently continue working with them and teaching them as they grow in their faith, and to allow the Holy Spirit to work in their lives.

It is hard for a Thai Christian to have a healthy dating relationship. It is very important for Thais to have a boyfriend or girlfriend. To them, it is better to have somebody, even if they don’t like them that much, than to be alone. For Christians, it is hard to find a partner who shares their faith. It is hard for them to be disciplined and wait on God’s timing to bring the right person into their lives. Nobody wants to be alone. For Christians and non-Christians alike, this is a tough area. It is a good opportunity for us to share with them, but can also be disappointing when we see believers losing their excitement about Jesus because they are in a relationship with a non-believer.

I will never regret the time I lived on campus and was able to experience life with my fellow students. In my opinion, it is one of the best ways to reach young people in Thailand. Most university campuses in Bangkok are filled with immorality and need someone to shine the light of Jesus. There is a huge need for more workers in Thailand. There are many good international universities in Bangkok with English programs. You can get a good education at a fraction of the price you pay to go to college in the US. I feel that more young people should be encouraged to consider studying in Bangkok, and doing something much bigger than just getting a degree. You can get a degree while sharing the love of Jesus with people who may never have the chance to hear it without you.

I have lived in Thailand for five years. While there, I met my wife, Rhonda, who was also working on the RMM team in Bangkok. We were married in Ohio in June, and plan to travel to my home in Nicaragua in September. In January we plan to return to Bangkok, where we will continue working with university students and shining the light of Jesus into the darkness.

Rhonda:

I first went to Thailand in December 2010 on a REACH team. My team studied culture and language and taught English at a Buddhist temple school. We worked a lot with the long-term RMM team and did our best to support them in their different areas of ministry. During my time there I felt that God was calling me to return to Thailand sometime in the future. Tom and Candice asked me to return the next year as a missionary assistant to their family, and I knew that was what God wanted me to do.

My year in Thailand with their family was a very growing experience for me. I was able to learn more language and culture and communicate better with the Thai people. In my first few months back in Thailand, I knew that was where God wanted me to be long term. I was able to embrace Thai culture and I loved spending time with Thai people. My relationships with my Thai friends went much deeper, and I was able to share more with them about Jesus and the Bible. I enjoyed discipling friends I had met during REACH. My home was a one-room apartment across the hall from a Thai family. We had become close friends when I was in REACH, and when I returned I mostly lived with them. We spent a lot of time doing things together like going to the market, making food, eating meals, and having birthday parties. We also spent time praying and reading the Bible together and hosted a weekly Bible study with some other Thai friends and team members. I was also able to be more involved in ministry at KBU and with other university students.

"...it was amazing to see how God had put everything together. We were able to minister to some of the couples on campus through our relationship."When I returned to Thailand for that year, I had no idea that God had my future husband waiting for me there! I started to spend more time with the university students, and it was easier for me, as a female, to work with the girls than it was for Nixson. Nixson and I started to get closer as well. We started dating, and it was amazing to see how God had put everything together. We were able to minister to some of the couples on campus through our relationship. Before I left Thailand, Nixson proposed and I said yes! Nixson stayed in Thailand to finish his studies, and I went to Nicaragua to study Spanish, so that I would be able to communicate with Nixson’s family and the Latino team in Thailand.

Now we are married and preparing to return to Thailand in January. We are so excited about the opportunities God has for us as young people to work with the university students in Bangkok. It has been so awesome to see how God has put everything in place for us. Before we even knew each other, God had placed a call on both of our hearts to minister to Thai people, and now we are so excited to be able to do that together. We feel blessed that we get to live in Thailand and make it our home.

Nixson is from Teustepe, Nicaragua and Rhonda is from Winesburg, Ohio. They enjoy studying the Bible together, going on walks, playing games, and reading. They are excited to be reunited with their Thai friends in January. Rhonda and Nixson are in the process of seeking partners for their work in Thailand. If you’d like to be a part of their work and give financial or prayer support, please visit www.donate.rmmweb.org.

Studying Abroad

As Nixson mentions, university campuses in Thailand are wide open to foreign students, and the opportunities for relationship-building and disciple-making
are endless. A wide variety of study options are available and the cost is a fraction of what you would pay in North America. Our team in Bangkok is
ready to partner with students who come to study. We can provide support
and coaching to those interested in living out their faith in this exciting city.
If you are interested in learning more contact RMM's Asia Regional Director, Tom* at tom@rmmoffice.org.
*Last name omitted for security reasons.