"i don't wanna be JESUS!" if my body had a voice, this is what it SCREAMED at about 8:07 a.m. on the morning of June 9th. i wanted to PRAY.
My conscience: Hmm, did you really wanna pray michael?
Let me explain:
at 7:21 i realized i'd fallen back to sleep and that some folks on my team were probably already waiting to go pray at the Thai/Burma border.
at 7:31 i arrive to meet others..but this time no one was there, so i thought, "okay i'm early!"
at 7:32 "oh no, i forgot, we changed prayer time to 8 a.m.."
at 8:05 i'm convinced that no one else is coming today.
at 8:06 my body begins to complain, it's desire for more bedtime, for more "rest," for a fan and some worship music to lullaby me back to sleep. This sorta attitude: "No one else showed up, so why should i GO!"
at 8:07 my body shouts: "i don't wanna be JESUS today!"
at 8:08 my SPIRIT responds: "i don't care..let's GO!" and GO i did, and because of it the young 21 yr. old DAUGHTER pictured above, i hope, got a glimpse of the JESUS i almost didn't put on today.
..this time i'm glad i only fought for about a minute..and WON! Don't get me wrong, i've had my fair share of losses, but today's STORY is a Round 1 TKO kinda story.
i arrived at the border, took my usual seat on the cement bench next to street dog #1 and #2. Facing Burma i tried to pray [mumble] a few words, thinking the whole time: "why did i come all this way to feel tired, hungry and hot?"
i tried again..and it was as if i'd come to a fight with an unloaded gun..CICK-CLICK-CLICK!
and then..the quite annoying pss-pss sounds begin..men across the border in "No Man's Land" (ungoverned riverbank land between Thailand and Burma) call out in their attempt to sell me porn, viagra, cigarettes and other non-essentials.
She, let's call her Angel, so timely approaches as i was failing with my mumbly prayers. i greet "minga-laba," Angel responds and then stands and stares at my colorful italian fixie-bicycle..it reminded me of a time in NYC when a young dude approached me in the subway because of some Marc Ecko boots i had on, Marc Ecko, yup. "Those are HOT SON!" he said..it was a moment when a pair of shoes initiated a conversation, there was a PAUSE, and in that moment i chose to share the GOSPEL! *since then i've had a few more EPIC shoe moments. *L-Boogy!
Yup, GOD uses asses, shoes and bicycles from Italy..but HE ultimately wants to use YOU, YOUR VOICE.
That PAUSE again..
the big difference this time was LANGUAGE, Angel doesn't speak English and my Burmese is -101 at the moment.
So i took a few glances at my digital Burmese cheat-sheet.
shared a bit..
a bit more..mostly "sign-language."
then i had this kinda random thought, "man i could use my phone to show her the LifeHouse Everything Skit to somewhat express the LOVE of this GOD i speak of."
Angel watches, no real expression, she nods, smiles,
Truth be told, i wanted to see tears followed by a surrender and a clear expression of: "i want this JESUS you speak of!"
It didn't come, but i wasn't disappointed.
at about 9:20 i use my hands to ask if she's hungry or thirsty..to which she replies yes and with a smile.
our walk begins.
the stares begin shortly after, everyone around clearly knew who she was, what she was..when only then i realize that i, a somewhat obvious foreigner in Thailand, am maybe walking around with a 21yr. old female____________,
*i added blanks because i refuse to label her anything but the PRECIOUS DAUGHTER she is.
Angel grabs some red Fanta, sanitizer wipes, and some water for her viagra selling friend.
We then proceed into the market to find her an outfit..she finds a shop that she likes. With a sort of grimace the shop owner also seems to "know" Angel. Angel picks out pink pants and a purple tee, i pay. She then proceeds to look over the jewelry on display, as i witnessed a young lady who simply longed to look and feel beautiful.
Then it gets interesting, as we're about to purchase this necklace i realize, while being distracted by colorful beaded bracelets, that the shop owner handed my change to Angel, and that quickly i'm short 200 baht ($7.)
i'm sure this was the millionth time that Angel's "legitimacy" is put to the test..the shop owner a bit frustrated.
Angel is calm, she's good at keeping her lie, but it's not who she is.
We leave the shop, and i express to Angel that i'm serious about getting the money back. Not because $7 would break the bank, but because i saw an opportunity for yet another MOMENT.
A bit of a struggle on her part, but she gives in and hands the money over.
i invite her to eat with me, we sit, i call my good friend Joshua from Burma who has become my personal translator/outreach partner. i begin to share with Joshua and express to him my desire for Angel to know that she is LOVED and FORGIVEN. i then hand Angel the phone, she listens, responds, listens some more then hands me the phone back. i ask Joshua to give me the Burmese translation for "i forgive you."
i say it as best i can in Burmese: "Nga-Nitgo-Quin-Lu-De"
tears make their grand-EYE-opening entrance..
at that moment i knew LOVE was conquering. This morning PRAYER was more about showing up and less about mumbling words.
i trust that even now as i write this, hours after encountering an Angel, LOVE is still conquering. Not because i prayed the best prayer, but simply because i chose to put JESUS on [to LOVE my GOD] and to LOVE my neighbor. 2 great things, 2 of the greatest things! Matthew 22:36-40
we didn't buy the necklace, but i have plans for yet another MOMENT..stay tuned.
i decided to ask a good friend to translate these words in Thai for the shop owner:
"i want to apologize for what happened earlier..sometimes you try to help ppl, but they take to survive..it's all they know. She gave me my money back."
ผมต้องขอโทษด้วยครับ ที่บางครั้งคุณพยายามที่จะช่วยคนอื่น แต่เขากลับต้องการที่จะขโมยของจากคุณเพียงเพราะนั่นเป็นสิ่งเดียวที่เขารู้..... ตอนนี้เธอให้เงินผมคืนแล้ว
the shop owner smiled a good smile with surprise..i could almost read the expression: "why would you return to share this with me?" on her face. The shop owner needed to see JESUS today also.