Since arriving in Thailand we have been asking God to show us where we should live in Bangkok, and what kind of housing we should be looking for. Presently we are about an hour outside of the center of the city – only a 10-minute walk from the YWAM Thailand National Office – which has been a blessing during this season of initial acclimation and language study. But, it is really important to us to live in a neighborhood that is within walking distance of where we expect our ministry to men working as prostitutes to be centered, which makes staying in our current neighborhood not an option. So far we know of 4 neighborhoods in Bangkok that are particularly well known for that kind of activity, and one of them has really captured our hearts over the past few months. Ratannakosin, sometimes referred to as “the old city,” could be considered the birthplace of modern Bangkok. Full of significant landmarks in Bangkok’s history – the Grand Palace, the city pillar, Wat Po, city hall – Rattanakosin remains the cultural center of the city. Yet with just a few steps (depending on the time of day) off of the beaten path one notices street prostitution (both women and men), multiple slum communities, visible homelessness (unusual in Bangkok), and clear signs of drug and alcohol abuse. There is only one church (with only 20 members!) in this district of 70,000 people, and no ministries of any kind that we have been able to search out thus far. Two of the neighboring districts have no Christian presence whatsoever. We don’t know yet if this is the neighborhood that God is leading us to move into, but we both feel this area capturing our hearts. With its old-style architectural beauty in stark contrast to the visible human needs of the people who live there – we are beginning to vision for what relationship-based ministry could look like in this community, and we are excited. As we pray and talk and seek input from our friends and leaders, we find ourselves more and more asking the question, “What specific type of location / housing are we looking for, really?” For years now Iven has been moved by stories he has heard and read from people who choose downward mobility and built their lives in the middle of slum communities. We want to be walking with Jesus closely enough that creature comforts aren’t as important to us as being accessible to our neighbors. We want our lives to naturally overflow with His love and grace. We read in the Gospel stories that Jesus loved people with a radical love that gave much more than we think is humanly possible or realistic, but even so He commands us as His followers to do the same. Our time spent working with homeless youth at New Horizons exposed both of us to the joys and sorrows of life shared with the poor. At the same time we recognize the wisdom of “boundaries” and do not want to set ourselves up for burnout in ministry or marriage by adding unnecessary neighborhood stress. So, we continue praying, walking, exploring and asking God to lead us in the direction He wants us to go. We are still several months away from making a decision (we think) but as the time draws nearer please pray along with us – we are on this journey together.
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