A few years ago I had the honor of receiving an unusual call from God.
My wife, Dawn, and I were in Thailand visiting Rachada, our former exchange student. The three of us drove into the city of Chumpae at about 11 p.m. on a Saturday night. As we entered the city, God very clearly told me, “Go find my people.”
The message was loud and clear in my mind, as if God had said it audibly. I asked Rachada if there was a church in Chumpae, and she took us to a Catholic church. As we drove up, I heard God speak again: “It’s not these. I have others for you to find.”
So we stopped and asked the priest at the church if he knew of another group of Christians in the city. He said he had heard there was another group, but didn’t know who or where they were.
When we got back in the car, I asked Rachada to just start driving, trusting that God would lead us where he wanted us to go. Hesitantly she agreed, and as we drove throughout the city I told her which direction to turn as we came to each intersection.
Eventually we entered a poor section of Chumpae, and Rachada said it was too dangerous to go any farther since it was approaching midnight. I assured her that it would be OK and asked her to please keep going.
Finally we came to a dirt alley, and Rachada reluctantly turned down it. About halfway down the alley we came to a building lit up by floodlights. Men were bricking the front pillars and pouring concrete, while women were painting the trim. At the peak of the roof was a cross, and a sign over the door read “Chumpae Christian Church.”
We knew we were where God wanted us to be.
Inside we found workers nailing together pews and painting the walls, while electricians ran wires. A worker ran up to us and asked us to wait a few minutes, as someone was getting the pastor.
In a few minutes we were introduced to the pastor and his wife. He explained that everyone was still working at midnight because the next day was their scheduled dedication for the church building.
We told the pastor that we would have loved to worship with them in the morning and witness their dedication, but we had an early morning flight back to the States. We said we’d like to give them a gift, so Dawn wrote out a check and handed it to him. The pastor looked at the check, figured out the amount (Thai Baht to U.S. dollars was 50:1), and immediately started praising God.
As the other workers came over, they too began singing, praying, and shouting praises to God.
When things finally started to settle down, I asked Rachada what was happening. She explained that two years earlier the congregation had borrowed money to buy the land for their building and promised God they would not use the church until it was free and clear of any loans. For the past two years donations of material and labor came in. But, being a very poor congregation, they were never able to pay off the loan. The money we gave was the exact amount they needed to do so.
The faithful congregation was working at midnight in the hope that somehow God would provide a way for the dedication to take place.
God’s timing is always perfect.