One thing I like to share with folks in the West is that the Good News is amazing. This perspective comes partly from from living in a culture where few know anything about the life and message of Jesus. But more than that, living in a culture that views and prioritizes life differently from the West has broadened and deepened my appreciation of the Gospel, not as a formula for getting people to Heaven, but as a life-and-joy-giving world view.
In Romans 5:2, Paul notes that through Jesus, “We have gained access, by faith, into this Grace in which we now stand.” (Capitalization mine.) The writer of Hebrews calls it a “new and living way”. The Gospel is far more than a message: it is an existence.
On Thursday “Dtaan” was cleaning the floors and restroom on our office floor. I like to snatch every opportunity I can to encourage someone, so called her over and we talked for a few minutes. I knew Dtaan was from the same slum community as a couple of alumna from The Well, at least one, “Gaan”, who is a serious addict. As we talked about her family and neighborhood it turned out Dtaan knew that Gaan very closely.
Dtaan joined us only maybe 6 weeks ago, directly out of heavy addiction. She needed to detox, but thankfully we have a government clinic nearby that does a pretty good job.
Most folks who join The Well start out in our full-time recovery program. The first thing that people with traumatized backgrounds need is safety, and this unit is designed first and foremost as a sanctuary, where women who are unable to work consistently spend time doing recovery-related activities. Among other things we have volunteer art therapists who see clients on a weekly basis.
It was clear from her first week that Dtaan had something special going on. While her face showed the wear of a hard life, there was a sparkle and genuineness to her smile. For years she had lived among dysfunctionally-based poverty, requiring hardness and protection. Here she was in a place that didn’t require that, and she was loving it.
Two weeks ago, Dtaan demanded to receive Jesus. The Thai word is “rapcheua”, literally “receive-believe”. Dtaan had heard enough about Jesus and seen this new way of thinking to know that she wanted it. With a little help from Judy and “Mama” Gwen, our beloved senior missionary from Arkansas, some women in the recovery group led Dtaan in giving herself over to Jesus.
Now that she is standing in Grace, Dtaan is eager to bring others to join her. Tonight was the first “Worship Night” at our recently renovated Connect Center. Dtaan came with two small boys she is raising for imprisoned relatives, and “Ann”, a pleasant looking teen girl, who Dtaan explained was a niece of that wayward alumna. Due to her family’s poverty, Ann had only finished fifth grade. But it became readily apparent through the evening that Ann was a good girl, bright and conscientious. Dtaan was ecstatic to know that we at The Well, with Dtaan’s own help and hard work, would be eager and and ready to help Ann pursue an education. But of course we expect Ann will gain much more than that.
I told Dtaan to please tell Gaan that we love her and miss her. “I will for sure,” Dtaan smiled knowingly.