The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion –
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
When I came to Thailand, I came to be part of pioneering a vision that hasn’t yet come to pass, that I don’t think will ever come to pass, at least not in the way we planned and dreamed. Letting go of that vision has been harder than I admitted, even to myself, until recently. I’ve been taking some time to mourn what might have been, what I dreamed would be.
As I read Isaiah 61 I see that Jesus is the One who binds my broken heart and proclaims freedom – freedom from the weight and pain of unfulfilled dreams, a release to walk from darkness into light. He is the One who comforts me and provides for me. And He is the One who gives me joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair.
My perspective has shifted: instead of remembering all that didn’t happen, I want to celebrate all the good that DID happen. Lives were changed because of this vision and because I came to Thailand to be part of it – what an honour! Let me share some of the amazing things the Lord has done through this ‘Rock of Hope’ dream:
- I (and others) had the privilege of regularly teaching a wonderful group of migrant children. I saw them grow in their thirst for learning and their study skills, as well as their knowledge. Many of them now attend school. One of them taught herself to read and write from an alphabet book given to her by my friend.
- Alongside academic learning, these children heard about the God who loves them and gave Himself for them, the One who will never leave them. Many of them have chosen to follow Him, trusting and standing firm even in difficulties and challenges. They know that He sees them.
- Children formed solid and meaningful friendships with each other. They may never have met if they hadn’t attended ‘Wednesday School’.
- We took some trips – including one to an aquarium. The children were so excited!
- We were able to be the bridge between home and the Thai school system for seven migrant children. We helped them get registered and started in school, and now a whole world of possibilities has opened up to them.
- A local school changed its policy and flung wide their doors to migrant children (previously unwelcome)! I don’t think we can take credit for that – it happened without our involvement – and yet I wonder how much it had to do with all the prayers we prayed for this area.
- Teachers in this school were impacted by the attitudes and faith of their new students. They became actively invested in seeing these children succeed.
- We opened up a safe space in the community for kids who live in unsafe places. They told us they felt loved and safe as soon as they walked into the room.
- Many of the ‘Wednesday School’ children joined wider ministry activities – going deeper in their walk with God and making connections with older teens, who are great role models.
- Visiting teams caught a glimpse of God’s heart for vulnerable children.
On a personal level, I have learnt so much about project planning, pioneering, prayer, overcoming obstacles and how to serve a community. I’ve learnt from my mistakes just as much as from the things I got right, probably even more so. I’ve made connections with a whole network of wonderful people. The children have brought me so much joy. They have taught me about perseverance, hope, wonder, grace, determination and having fun.
I may never know the full impact we had on these precious ones. I may never know how this dream, this ‘failed’ vision, has transformed lives or even changed history. But I am confident that the Lord was at work, that He is still at work and will continue to be at work – His Word will accomplish the purposes for which He sent it. And that is cause for great celebration!
‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,’
declares the Lord.
‘As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
it will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn-bush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure for ever.’