Monday, September 19, 2011


Remember how I said we've just had our friends Jason and Paulina Smith here to visit?  Well, I asked Jason if he'd be a guest blogger and share some of his thoughts about their trip.  
Thanks Jason.  When I read what you wrote I was sincerely humbled by your kind words. 
Here's what he had to say:

In the weeks leading up to our planned trip to Thailand, my expectations of experiencing a defining moment were growing. It sounds sensationalised – but that’s how I felt. It is a rare occasion for Paulina and I to leave our 3 boys with trusted grandparents, take a week out of our otherwise compressed schedules, travel to an unknown culture through 24 hours of flight time and transit, and defer other opportunities to be there. Why wouldn’t we posture ourselves for something significant to happen?
As the rubber smoked on the landing gear of our budget Airbus A320, and the humidity and torrential rains of Chiang Mai welcomed us forward, it felt like my eyes were bigger than my stomach. I wasn’t to know the full impact of what we were about to see, experience and feel – and days after our return I am still digesting it all!  Whilst I am not just referring to the physical indulgence of the culinary pleasures Thailand has to offer, there was certainly that also. We ate more pork sticks, green curry, pad Thai, sticky rice and sweet roti than my training diet really could afford. The food was great, but the ‘excess baggage” we were nearly charged coming home, was a little embarrassing.
More significantly, but not surprising, was the inspiration we found in doing family life with the Crosses. Having already journeyed some time at home in Australia with this remarkable couple, and with already a heartfelt admiration for their enduring integrity, this week revealed to us a whole new level of maturity and resilience on show. I felt personally challenged and incredibly excited to see a ‘peer’ family surrendered so fully to their life assignment, and truly serving God. The way David and Andie balance the competing tensions of compassionate ministry, tireless service, determined parenting and personal submission revealed both God’s sovereign grace and their internal fortitude. It’s rare to have this much admiration and respect for your own peers, as these feelings are more often reserved for those who are greater in years to you.
To get a glimpse into the world of ZOE and be exposed to the tragedies and some individual stories of those who have suffered through human trafficking, was at times too much to bear. In the quietness of the evenings, when the cogs of reflection could turn undistracted from the events of the day, it was deeply impacting to ‘unpack’ what we learned. The trading of human souls and the abuse that flows from this constitutes a global crisis that demands attention. I feel like the raw emotion of what we saw is still largely ‘unprocessed’ in my heart and remains something for us yet to reconcile with God and ‘knowing’ people like the Crosses. The burden to play some part in bringing relief and protection to the little ones who are victims of these heinous activities, is definitely one of the keepsakes we bring home from our trip.
The other remarkable experience where our eyes were pried wide open was in discovering and appreciating the journeys of how the different missionary’s lives have converged and united for the ZOE assignment. Story after story of otherwise ‘normal’ western routine, captured by careers, comfortable in suburbia, serving in churches and all loving Jesus…and then at some point having their lives ‘arrested’ and enlisted into the mission of saving children in Thailand. As Carol Hart, cofounder of ZOE, passionately reminisced of the time she heard God’s call to her: “Hear my Cries, Love my children”. Each family represented on the ZOE team were in their own distinct and unique ways a personal affront to the life of mediocrity I feel I can sometimes slip into.
The people we met – those of ZOE, the Thai staff, and the children themselves – are remarkable examples of the very rare blend of attributes that makes one truly significant. It’s the equal portions of humility and intense resolve that keep them positioned and effective.
In Thailand, we rode elephants, visited remote villages, attended church outreaches, shared at the ZOE business school, walked the night markets and unnaturally got twisted out of shape by well-meaning Thai masseurs. They were all welcomed experiences with memorable aspects. None of them could be described as ‘defining’. However, hearing God’s voice with a Thai accent and discovering the articulate and strategic vision of ZOE to reach hurting children certainly had the life impact we were expecting.
What remains for our family is the decision of how we rise to the challenge that has been presented to us. What do we do with what we have seen? Our eyes are not blind, and our hearts are not shielded any longer. The richness of the experience compels us to change. Each person stands to make a unique contribution – not one effort being exactly the same. Different assignments; different missions; but equal obedience.

God, please don’t narrow my eyes, enlarge my stomach!

Is there an issue, or cause, that has been brought to your attention lately?
What's being placed in front of you right now which demands a response? Please share!


Anonymous said...

What an inspiring post! I sometimes feel so overwhelmed by the issues presenting themselves and where to direct my energies!! So many different needs and things on my mind and a clear sense that I know I want to do something, just not sure exactly what or where! In the mean time, focusing my attention on training up, volunteering close to home and trying not too get to comfortable or close my eyes and heart to the needs out there.

Cross Family said...

Thanks so much for sharing. What Jason wrote is challenging and a good reminder for us all. We can easily get comfortable wherever they are and it's true we must always keep our eyes open to the needs around us whatever that looks like: neighbours, family, friends, the wider community or someone we've never even met. Food for thought:)

Christine Henderson said...

Beautifully written, Jason...and not just the words, but the spirit behind your words. Having known both David and Andrea since they were 'kids in school' it is no surprise to read about their maturity and vision and obedience.
The Smiths and the Hendersons need to have a Thai meal together soon!

Family Holiday for 5 said...

great post. really good to read. When holidaying as a couple or a family so much can happen.