Linda and Jim McIntosh are serving God in Chiang Dao, Thailand, with OMF.
We spent a long day recently at a Hmong church near Chiang Mai, leaving home at 8.30 am and getting back at 6.30 pm. It was interesting to join in the worship service in the morning and hear Hmong language and see so many faces worshipping the Lord.
I had been invited to teach on womanhood at the women’s group in the afternoon. It was a special event with a special program and I had spent weeks preparing notes from Genesis 1-3 in Thai. It was the first time I had taught in Thai at an event like this among women I had never met.
It’s one thing to speak Thai to women who know you and are used to the particular quirks of speaking a foreign language. But to speak in Thai among women I didn’t know had me worried and really wanting to back out. But this led me to prayer.
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After the service and lunch, we went upstairs to the church room for the women’s event. Some of the men came in and sat down to listen too. I said to Khem (who was organising the event), “If the men want to listen, I will ask Kong to translate for me”. But Khem said, “This is a women’s event – we don’t want them here; send them downstairs to study with Jim.”
So I quickly went downstairs, told Jim that men were being sent down, and asked if he could walk through Genesis 1-3 so the men could hear what the women were learning.
For the first time, the women heard that they are not lower than men, nor do they have less value.
We women (about 25-30 of us) had a great time singing special songs, playing games and studying the Bible for two hours with talks and small group sharing and then a Q&A time. We also heard a heart-touching testimony from a woman who lost her first baby then allowed God to use this tragedy to call her to himself and faith in Christ.
I thank God for enabling me to speak Thai. It was God at work through me that enabled me to teach. For the first time, the women heard that they are not lower than men, nor do they have less value. They learned that they are not more easily deceived but that Satan hates God’s order of creation and wants to destroy it. That’s why he bypassed the man and went to the woman.
They learned that Genesis 3 has the promise of the gospel – we get a picture of God’s promised snake crusher – and that our only hope to live out God’s good design for us is to put our faith in Jesus and need him every day.
One young lady cried as she told me about the heaviness she has in her heart for her marriage. Her husband is the youngest son of a family (who comes to church) but the father has three wives. I learned that day that it is quite common for Hmong people to have more than one wife.
His father (with several wives) believes it is not a man’s duty to do anything at home, let alone take responsibility or lead.
One lady asked me, “What do you do when a family want to be Christians? They come to church, but there are two wives and children to both wives. How should the church treat them?”
This young woman who was crying had married a man when she was 18 and he was 17. His father (with several wives) believes it is not a man’s duty to do anything at home, let alone take responsibility or lead. So, it was a perfect time to open God’s word, to show what God says – not what humans say about all these situations – and to encourage them to keep reading and praying.
“We were exhausted, but our hearts were soaring with what God had done that day.”
After we finished, we went downstairs to discover that Jim had about eight men sitting around the table together. With no preparation, Jim had led the men through a study of Genesis 1-3. The men learned and saw new things in God’s word, especially about their design and responsibilities. They ended up in the New Testament asking questions about salvation, and, before they knew it, two-and-a-half hours had gone by.
We left the Hmong church with lots of “wais” (the Thai hand greeting) and smiles. Many asked us to come back again and teach them more. Yes, we were exhausted, but our hearts were soaring with what God had done that day. Often, we feel like we hardly make a dint on the work that is to be done here, but a day like this gives us joy and hope.