« Previous   |   Main   |   Next »

Surprises at a Mother’s Funeral

Lan and Pon fishing together on a local river.

By Nixson*

Nixson and his wife Rhonda work with the RMM team in Bangkok, Thailand, where they are busy discipling new believers and training emerging leaders from Thailand and neighboring countries.

Eight years ago, Pon, a southeast Asian student in Bangkok, started meeting with our teammate, Dan, to study English. While studying English, Pon also studied the Bible and became a believer.

Several years later one of Pon’s friends from his home village also moved to Bangkok to work. Through Pon’s witness his friend Lan became a believer and was baptized in May 2011. Eventually Pon moved to a city in his home country to continue his studies and work. Members of the RMM team in Bangkok continued to disciple Pon “across the miles” with phone calls and occasional visits.

Lan (second from the right) with RMM workers Nixson and Jonatan (far left and right).

Meanwhile, Lan, who remained in Bangkok, began sharing his new-found faith with others from his home country who had come to the city for work. He discovered that God had given him the gift of evangelism and enjoyed sharing with non-believing friends. Lan and the RMM team worked together to disciple the new believers. Eventually Lan felt called to quit his job in Bangkok and return to his home village to share the gospel there.

Lan started by sharing his faith with his family. Within a short time his sister as well as Pon’s brother became believers. Lan also travelled to neighboring villages and was surprised to discover that there were scattered believers living in some of the villages. He became a mentor to many isolated believers and encouraged them to share their faith with others in their villages. During this time Lan’s own mother became a believer and was baptized.

But not everything has been easy for Lan. The government of his home country is restrictive and does not allow people to openly preach the gospel. As Lan shared and people came to faith and were baptized, the police took action against the movement. Many of the new believers were arrested and imprisoned. The police threatened Lan, warning him to stop preaching the gospel.

Others in the community became jealous of Lan’s ministry and of how people looked up to him. Several people close to him slandered his name. Also during this time his mother fell sick with diabetes and high blood pressure. His siblings refused to help, so Lan took responsibility for caring for his mother in spite of the huge financial burden.

“As Lan shared and people came to faith and were baptized, the police took action against the movement. Many of the new believers were arrested and imprisoned. The police threatened Lan, warning him to stop preaching the gospel.”During Lan’s mother’s illness villagers streamed in to visit her and the family. Some of the people who had been hurtful and jealous of Lan also dropped in. During this time new understandings grew and broken relationships were restored.

Then in October 2015, Lan’s mother died. Lan and the believers’ group decided to have a Christian funeral and burial instead of a Buddhist cremation. This was a first-time break with village tradition and potentially inflammatory. Lan wondered what would happen, but surprisingly the village leader gave them permission to hold a Christian funeral.

At the funeral Lan had been planning to share about his Christian faith, and why they were doing things differently, but the village leader took charge. He explained that when he was younger he had studied the Bible and knows a lot about Jesus and this new religion. He encouraged the villagers to think about what they were seeing and hearing.

Now since the funeral Lan has been sharing with the village leader and his wife who are hungry to know more about Jesus. Other villagers too are openly curious about the new peace they sensed among the believers—even in the face of death. They’d never witnessed a funeral so filled with hope for the deceased, who is with Jesus.

Even as Lan grieves the death of his mother he knows that God is faithful, and is working for good in the midst of these difficult situations. He doesn’t regret sharing his faith even though it has brought enormous struggles into his life. He testifies to the faithfulness of God and longs to be faithful to him no matter what!

Ever since Lan moved back to his home village, I, Nixson, have been mentoring him over the phone. I’ve also gone to visit several times. It’s been hard knowing how to best encourage him in these situations, but I’m grateful that God has given me wisdom to walk with him in these struggles. In the midst of the trials we see God at work, and we praise him for these encouraging breakthroughs!

Please Pray:

  • That Lan and the emerging group of believers in his village and the surrounding community will have boldness and wisdom as they continue reaching out with the Good News
  • For Nixson and Rhonda as they continue sharing Jesus with friends and neighbors in Bangkok as well as coaching the emerging movement to Jesus in Lan’s country

To support the work of Nixson and Rhonda and of RMM in Southeast Asia go to: donate.rmmweb.org

*Last names omitted for security reasons.