Feature

True Peace

God's pursuit at a Thai noodle shop

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Ann was suspicious of me. She was polite but asked safe questions at a distance. Ann thought, Who is this foreigner who keeps coming to visit me? Is she a salesman? Is she for real? Is her message genuine?

Thinking about it from her perspective, I would be suspicious of me too. If a foreigner came to me with a strange message yet speaking my native language, I also would have my guard up. The amazing thing was that Ann had been waiting for years to talk to someone like me, someone who could tell her about God, but she first had to make sure I was sincere.

A Sinner Like Me

For Sue to have meaningful conversations with Ann, she had to eat a lot of noodles!

We first met Ann at the end of July 2013 when the short-term team from Fairlawn Community Church (Cogan Station, Pa.) helped us hand out gospel literature and pray while walking around the neighborhood. God’s Spirit prompted the group that went past her newly opened noodle shop to talk with her. They discovered she had an interest in the Lord.

I began visiting Ann pretty frequently, often bringing my husband, Ed, and Pastor Sukprasan of Mahapawn Living Water Church (Thailand C&MA). Ann had many questions. She accepted a Bible and other Christian literature. God used His Word, especially Matthew 9:9–13, to break down the walls around her heart. She told me in tears on the first Sunday she came to church in early November, “Jesus could even come to me, such a sinner? He eats with sinners! He came not for the healthy but for sinners like me!”

Shortly after that we took the short-term team from Glenview Alliance Church (Glen Rock, Pa.) to visit Ann. After their sharing and questioning, she confirmed that she had put her faith in Jesus. I then began to visit regularly to disciple her.

Ann told her family, friends, and customers who came to eat her noodles that she was a Christian now. In February, when she learned the church was going to have a baptismal service, she excitedly said she would like to be baptized too.

Joy of Gospel Access

Ann was baptized February 23, 2014. She said in her testimony that day:

I was searching for the truth about my life for a long time. Why was I born? For what purpose am I here on earth? I was searching for peace. I looked everywhere people told me about but did not find it. Actually, I have known about God’s Word for a long time, but personal conflict and obstacles made me not brave to receive the Lord. So I had no true peace in my life or heart. Then one day,

God sent someone to tell me about God’s way.

After hearing about God’s way, I knew this was the way for true peace in my life. I never wanted things, like riches, only true peace and the opportunity to tell others, other sinners, about this peace.

Ann concluded her testimony praising and thanking God: “Thank You, Lord. You searched for me and opened the door. You gave me this opportunity and led me in all things. Thank You, Lord. You accepted me and have given me every breath that I breathe.”

Ann experienced the joy of gospel access. And she is overwhelmed by God’s goodness to her. Ann is still rejoicing that someone came to her and told her the good news.

Share Jesus’ love

Ann helps lead prayer walks in Baan Paeo and is part of the core team assisting the new cell group.

A few days before her baptism, I visited Ann. An elderly Thai gentleman stopped by her shop to have some noodles. Ann introduced me to him. He had been her fifth-grade English teacher more than 30 years ago. He had moved back into the area only two weeks earlier. Ann told him she was a Christian now. I piped up and said that Ann would be baptized on Sunday and invited him to come. He came.

Ed visited him that week, and he was more than ready to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior. He actually had been on the road to faith for 50 years, and the Lord directed him in meeting us so he could understand what he had been searching for so long! He was overwhelmed and joined Ann in telling everyone that he was a Christian now. Ann and her former teacher want to see everyone in Mahachai become a Christian.

Ann has brought just about everyone in her family to a church function: her son, youngest daughter, her sister, her niece, her older daughter. She continually looks for ways to share with her husband. He is open but has not yet come to church.

Ann invited some of the church members over to dedicate her little noodle shop to the Lord. She wants to use it as a place to share about Jesus’ love. And God has led her on many occasions to share with her customers about the love of Jesus. The deeply overwhelmed will overflow!

Take a Risk

I continued to meet with Ann at least once a week for discipleship. I discovered that she had her first exposure to Christianity as a teenager 30 years earlier. She heard a Christian song and thought it was nice.

There was something about the cross that fascinated her. But she had no idea what the gospel was all about. She knew no one who could explain it, but she wasn’t interested enough to just walk into a church and ask. Even in her searching for peace, purpose, and meaning throughout her life, she had no idea that Jesus was the answer—until we met her four years ago. Then it took four months of getting to know me before she opened her heart and began to ask questions. She wanted to make sure I was genuine before she took the risk of considering the gospel of Jesus.

Keep Going Back

Ann operated a noodle shop much like this one, popular with the working class during the lunch hour.

Ann has continued to grow in her faith. She faced several challenges in the first year as a believer. Her noodle shop stopped turning a profit, and she had to close it and find new work. The new work prevented her from attending church on Sundays for several months, but she faithfully attended the midweek service and studied the Bible with our missionary colleague.

Then she discovered she had thyroid cancer and had to have her thyroid removed. She praised God that the new work she had begun allowed her to have better health insurance than if she had stayed at the noodle shop. And she is now cancer free.

Ann has started a new business of supplying fruit drinks to small stores in the area to sell. This work has freed her to serve in the church more. She is on the church leadership team and assists in many of the church’s ministries. She has been a great blessing to the new church-plant outreach in Baan Paeo. Her testimony was key in helping Nun (our first believer in Baan Paeo) make the decision to follow Jesus.

Ann was waiting for more than 30 years to learn more about Jesus. She told us later she had received gospel literature along the way, but nobody ever came back to tell her more—until we did.

Now Ann is determined to “go back,” to follow up with those with whom she has shared the gospel, to give others the opportunity to ask their questions. She remains passionate about sharing her faith with everyone she meets. May I remember to keep going back too and to not give up. May God use us to bring more people closer to Jesus.

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