The Body of Christ can be such a powerful thing. Since I have been here I have noticed the great impact that the manifestation of Christ’s body in the world can truly have. Nightlight, although not classified as a church in an institutional sense, as Gods people moving and acting in the world, I feel can’t be classified as anything else but “the church.”
I went on a Nightlight retreat this past weekend and observed some incredible things…
“M,” the girl we have been helping return to her own country decided last minute to come with us. Unable to speak Thai, she would not be able to understand much of what was going on, but for weeks now she has been drawn to Jesus and the church, an incredibly foreign concept to her previously. In the early stages of her stay with us it was hard to see her have to wait week after week as Nightlight waded through all of the red tape. But then we noticed something incredible, the longer she stayed the more she was drawn to Jesus and His people. When once she didn’t even want to look at a tract that was found in her language, she gradually became so drawn to the Bible she started to read it for hours every day. There had to be something about this Jesus person if his people continued to take care of her every day. Unable to resist His pursuit of her any longer, she finally received Christ this weekend. Praise God.
“N” was also at the retreat. She is affectionately referred to as “Gomer” by some of us. Just like out of the pages of Hosea, she comes and goes from our care. Unable to fully recognize the love that is offered to her at Nightlight, she tends to only stay for a couple of months at a time before she gets restless and takes off again. Somehow, however, something always draws her back to Nightlight. She has had so much counterfeit love and abuse in her life it’s no wonder the brokenness is taking time to heal, but she is always welcomed back with loving arms. This weekend I saw her get baptized. Although God is still very much in the process of restoring all that is broken inside of her, this baptism symbolized such hope; a step of intent that she wants so much to understand this great love that continues to draw her back into the loving arms of God’s people. An opportunity that could never be possible without Christ’s body reaching out.
During the worship times the chairs were set up in a big circle and sometimes there was dancing in the middle (which I personally wish was a part of every worship service…). Most often though, simply the children of some of the girls would dance around in the middle. There was one child in particular that always seemed to stand out. It probably had a lot to do with how incredible adorable she is. She looks just like a little doll and I couldn’t help but think how beautiful she would grow up to be and how wonderful it is that she is surrounded by all of these Christian mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers that will feed value and purpose into her life. This opportunity, sadly, is not the norm in Thailand. Girls are not valued very much here outside of what type of money they can earn for the family which is why so many of them end up in the bars. This little girl’s own mother was dropped off at Nightlight by a bar owner because she was very pregnant and no longer able to make money in the bar. She was affectionately welcomed in and transformed…and was up front leading worship this weekend as her little daughter danced around in the middle.
A couple of weeks ago on an outreach night, one of our team members noticed a particularly young looking girl in the bar. Before leaving the teammate felt an urging to pay the girl’s bar fee to take her out of the bar for the night. The girl changed out of her bar clothes into a fuzzy teddy bear t-shirt. She told us she was 19 but she did not look much older than 15. She was very upset. This was her first night dancing and apparently did not understand that dancing in the bar meant she would also have to go home with anyone her bought her. She was told about God and offered a job at Nightlight. When she went back to her family though, they told her to go back into the bars and make money. “If other girls can do it, you can do it,” they told her….
Such a contrast between her family and the one this beautiful little girl I saw dancing in the middle of a circle of people worshiping God. Because of Christ’s church, this little girl and so many others have a chance to experience true love in a society where that is so sadly scarce…
The Body of Christ is a force to be reckoned with. When people get off their butts and out of their pews and actually love, incredible things happen. When we put down our judgments, and our fears, and our social constraints, and let God redeem it all, when we lay down our wills, do our part according to our gifting and actually love….beauty follows… a beauty that even the most lost will not be able to resist. Believe in that power and live accordingly.
Thank you God for allowing me to see and be a part of your beautiful body.
John 13: 34-35