This tuesday we had the opportunity to go minister to the men at the Chiang Mai Drug Rehab Center alongside the YWAM-Australia team that is still with us at Abba House Foundation. We left AHF at 8:30am and spent the next half hour in trucks to get there. Arriving at the center we found that i was much more remote than we'd expected and kind of like a retreat center out in the woods. We pulled up to all the men gathered in a small building with no windows, but rather metal window frames and wooden shutters. After we all introduced ourselves we spent some time playing a name game with the guys and then had a time of worship.This was really cool to get to share with them our passion for Christ through song - even though they had no idea what we were saying it was interesting to see the reactions within their eyes from the time we arrived to the time we finished worshiping together. Afterwards several people shared a testimony or Word and may I just say God's hand was All Over the people who spoke - from both teams - and the grace of God was proclaimed! Ben, one of the Australia team's leaders, preached the Gospel and then invited anyone who wanted prayer to come up and before He'd finished there were 3 guys who were standing in the middle of the room with Ben. After Ben wrapped it up we all got up and most of the other guys joined the 3 in the center as we laid hands and prayed for all of them!When we'd finished praying with them we had a time of just fellowshiping with them - we'd brought sodas and oranges. This was was much harder than we'd thought it would be since we only had 2 translators for the 20 of us. It was still a sweet time and many people were able to pray individually with several of the men there - so cool!
The desire that these men had to be cleaned of their addictions was inspiring. Of the few stories I got to hear from different ones, there was such testimony through their struggles. One of the men there was from Laos and had become a Christian here in Thailand while at the drug rehab center. He'd been here for just over a year if I remember correctly, and hopes to return to Laos to preach the gospel to his country - even though it is closed to Christianity. He was so passionate and driven to over come this addiction and to be closer to God it was truly inspiring and an honor to meet him. We had the chance to pray over him for a few minutes at the end and just encourage him in his calling - Praise the Lord!
It wasn't all fun and games however, there was some frustration with the way things were handled with the lack of translation, communication between leaders and us, and just general frustrations with being rushed out of there at the end. It made some of us more frustrated than others, however these things are not to be unexpected. Through it was a time of working together to talk through the situations and learn how to extend grace and forgiveness even when it is difficult and things feel unjust.
As in the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35. The master pardons the debt of his servant but the servant then turns and demands payment from all his debtors.
Lord, forgive me for ever not extending grace and forgiveness to another brother or sister - you set the example and I am so convicted by the way you love us.