Written by Gloria Cheung (Senior Communications Officer)
Contact with life has the most transformative power to change hearts. Last October, two colleagues from CEDAR joined eight pastors and members from Light Church on a journey to Northern Thailand. They embarked on an eight-day, seven-night ‘Exposure Trip of Ethnic Minorities Church Life Experience in Northern Thailand’ and visited four partners from churches representing different minority ethnic groups. These partners, each in their unique way, demonstrate the love of Christ by being the salt and light in their communities.
The first destination of the journey was a visit to CEDAR’s partner Immanuel Foundation (IMF). IMF is dedicated to combatting human trafficking, providing essentials such as shelter, food and legal support for rescued children. Many trippers found the most profound moment of the trip was the conversation with C (pseudonym), the founder of IMF. As a second-generation pastor and a member of the Kachin ethnic group, C responded to God’s calling by fully committing himself to combat human trafficking. When the trippers asked C if he was concerned about potential retaliation from human traffickers against his family because of his work, C responded firmly yet calmly, ‘I’m doing the right thing. God is with me, and He will protect me. There’s nothing to fear!’ The trippers were struck by the unexpected peace that encompassed C, attributing it to the Lord’s gift for those who walk in His righteousness.
The second stop of the journey involved visiting a group of Karen people who have lived on the highlands for generations, relying on farming as their livelihood. Thanks to the work of missionaries, the Karen have come to know Jesus for several generations and have been taught biblical principles in land management and caring for the poor. For instance, they practice shifting cultivation, ensuring timely harvests while at the same time allowing the land to rest for six years. Also, each year, they offer a portion of their crop yield to the church, enabling the church to support the impoverished in the village. However, the Karen people are currently facing the potential forced displacement due to the government’s intention to designate the area as a national park. After spending two days and one night with the Karen community, the trippers discovered that the Karen, while steadfastly guarding their land, adopt a ‘persistence rather than confrontation’ approach in safeguarding their homeland. They firmly believe that all outcomes are blessings filtered through the Lord’s selection. Some of the trippers expressed admiration for the Karen people’s absolute obedience to the Lord’s sovereignty, considering it the most compelling testimony to believers walking alongside the Lord.
After several days of interaction, it was not merely a cultural experience but also a journey of mutual understanding and blessings between believers from Hong Kong and Northern Thailand. Through this exposure trip, the trippers gained a deeper appreciation for the circumstances faced by underprivileged communities and a better understanding of the work and needs of the churches in Northern Thailand.
If you are interested in organising an exposure trip in the name of your church to visit countries where CEDAR has projects or to visit local partners and beneficiary communities, please feel free to contact us.