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Honored to Eat on the Floor

This photo was taken in one of the few churches located on the outskirts of Khon Kaen, Thailand. I remember the drive to get there took over an hour on roads that were winding through the tropical farmlands. We passed by some places of business whose building structures were made from old crates and potato bags. Every home we passed had a shrine to their ancestors and their god of choice. When we arrived at the village where this church was located we were welcomed by a gold statue of a god that stood over 80 feet tall. As we walked up to the church doors we realized that there weren’t any. The open structure gave great opportunity to the walking passerby and meandering farm animal to join in the joyous worship. The church was pastored by a man and his wife who you could tell wore every hat in the building from clerk to worship pastor and preacher. The congregation was almost outnumbered by the team we brought and the average age was probably 65 and older, but regardless when we engaged in worship (all in Thai) it was some of the most engaging worship I had ever experienced. I said I felt like I had been transported to the New Testament days shortly after Jesus had ascended and Peter and Paul were traveling and writing letters to the various churches that were popping up. They didn’t have much but what they did have they cherished and stewarded with great pride. After the service they invited us to stay and have lunch, something the whole congregation did as a body every Sunday. As soon as we agreed the women began to scurry around moving chairs and laying down mats, bringing in different dishes. They set up a place for us to eat on the concrete floor and placed the food before us. We noticed after they served us they were sitting around us smiling but not joining in, we later found as we finished our meals that they were giving us their first fruits and waiting to dine until after we were satisfied with the food that was left over. It opened our eye for the other churches we visited, it was a fun game of how much do you eat to show thanks and leave enough so they don’t go hungry too? There were foods that were very enjoyable like the sticky rice and diverse fruits (a couple you may have read about above.) And there were other foods like raw fish (bones included) that were a little harder to swallow but you did, so not to offend these sweet people who gave what little they had to be good hosts to their honored guests. It was quite a challenging to see such kindness from this body of people who had so little but were willing to give so much. A word that comes to mind that this lunch represented to me is Honor. These people had so much honor, they wanted to honor us as their guests, they honored the church building they were worshiping in, although it was an open structure they still cared for it by sweeping the floors and asking us to remove our shoes before entering. Mostly they honored Jesus, by giving what little they had, by being good stewards of what He’d given them, and by lifting up there voices in worship when there’s mass ridicule from their neighbors and friends. As Americans we’re told we have so much…and we do! How can we use all that we have to honor Christ, honor others and change the world around us?

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