Light at the end of the road

I remember the very first time I stepped onto Bangla Road. It was in the middle of the afternoon under the hot, blazing sun, with humidity that made the air thick and sticky. The street was dirty and crowded with Thai people and tourists. The power lines hung in front of all the buildings to add more chaos to the street. A rank smell of sewage and muck invaded my nostrils. I was overwhelmed by the amount of people scattered about the streets offering me massages, boot-legged movies, fruit, street food, custom made suits, and various other clothes. I walked down the road struggling to focus any kind of prayer to pray.

We reached the end of the road and met a very special women, her name is Pond. She is a Thai women who makes bracelets to sell. She is rarity on the street, most vendors sell the same kind of bracelets with inappropriate sayings, Pond on the other hand makes bracelets with phrases such as, “Pray For Bangla” “God <3 You”, “I <3 God”. It was surprising to meet this women, who sits there night after night praying for Bangla Road and professing God’s love for everyone. She gave each of us a bracelet to remember her by.

That evening when we went out for ministry, we walked down the street observing and praying. I could feel the spiritual heaviness as we made it to the center of the street where the bars are most concentrated. I felt tightness inside my chest and a pressure along the temples of my head, my prayers were skewed and feeble. As we approached the end of the road I felt the pressure recede. I could feel the spiritual atmosphere shift the closer we walked towards Pond. I realized that she is the light at the end of the road. The Holy Spirit in her shines away all the darkness that Bangla Road tries to contend with.

Over the next couple of months of bar ministry, Pond continued to be our light and joy on Bangla Road. No matter how hard ministry was going, no matter how discouraged we were, she was always there with her beautiful smile beaming onto us. “God bless you” is how she would always say good-bye to us.

I have been blessed with so many precious moments of sitting with Pond on the sidewalk looking over her bracelets, sharing pictures about her family, praying with her,  holding her hands as she smiles, “mas, mas” is what she would say as she held my hands and gently massaged them.

One night during intercession, I decided to make her a bracelet. With every knot I tied to form the bracelet I prayed for the Lord’s blessing to be upon her, for God’s love to be richly felt by her, for God to provide for her needs, for God to send his angels to protect her, for the people on Bangla to be able to feel God’s love exude from her, for God to advance her ministry of professing God’s greatness in the midst of darkness. The night finally came when I gave it to her. She was astonished by the bracelet. She couldn’t figure out how I made it. “This is a gift for you Pond, I love you” I told her as I tied it around her tiny wrist.

The next week I knelt beside her and hummed Christmas carols with her.

“You stay here for Christmas?” Pond asked me. I paused for a moment and realized, I won’t be in Thailand anymore.

I shook my head and solemnly said, “No, Pond. I’ll be in America for Christmas.”

“When you come back to Thailand?” She quickly asked…

“I don’t know Pond, but I will always pray for you.”

Pond reached over and grabbed a bracelet from her selection and tied it around my wrist. It says, “I PRAY FOR YOU”. Only my closest friends know this, but my greatest love language is when people pray for me. I instantly fall in love with a person when they lay their hands on me and pray. Knowing that I will be receiving Pond’s prayers makes my heart joyfully break. I stood there on Bangla Road and wiped tears away as I thought of the precious little bit of time I have here in Thailand.

I would love to never say good-bye to my closest friends, but that is not feasible. God uses us in such peculiar, yet special ways to encourage each other in Christ. I never expected to fall in love with a precious, Thai women who sells bracelets on Bangla Road, but I am madly in love with her because of her endless love for God and what He has done for her. This is what ministry does, it builds bonds and friendships in the name of Christ that will be sustained for eternity in heaven. How beautiful is that?  

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