It’s 1994 and I’m bored. My wife and I survived Las Vegas for two years, Bangkok for one, and now here we are in Chiang Mai, Thailand wondering what’s next.
Getting married was fun. In 1990 we did that and haven’t regretted it or been bored of the union since.
Working in Las Vegas at Calvary Chapel Spring Valley for the next two years was also valuable. We learned a lot and made some good friends. But it was tough. Newly married couples shouldn’t take a job at a big church.
Going back to Bangkok was a sort of homecoming for me. I missed the hustle and grind of Asia, the smell of smog in the morning, and the mix of interesting people the city seems to produce. For Oddny it was a thrill to be studying Thai and hooking into her deepest values: helping the poor and needy.
Then, in 1993 we headed up to Chiang Mai to work with Bruce and Nit Geske. Our goal was to start a Youth With a Mission (YWAM was the organization we worked with) base of operations and see where it took us. After two years of church work and starting an evangelism center across the street from Chiang Mai University, I sat in my office thinking to myself “Is this it?”
Is this it? Is this what I was made for?
The challenges of those first two years in Chiang Mai kept me on my toes. I was so busy starting the Center, arranging new programs, and finding the right staff, that I didn’t have time to reflect. In fact, I think it’s the business that kept me distracted from the bigger question my soul was screaming. No, take it a step farther: because I really didn’t want to deal with my soul, I kept busy.
When the soul asks ‘who are you?’ and your answer is I have no (insert expletive) idea, it is disturbing. I started to think I was the product of media, books, both good and bad counsel, and the example of those around me. I am my culture. I am my church scene. I am all these socially defined contraptions, but take away all those and what do you end up with?
I am my dockers. I am a YWAMer. I am a missionary. I repeat what I have been told. I am empty….
My friends started to get divorced. The leaders I thought could guide me mostly disappointed and hurt me. We had our first baby and I had no idea how to be the father of this new life. Never mind the silly games I played at trying to be a good husband!
And I was supposed to be this mature, spiritually seasoned leader right? The sad truth is, I was more Pharisee than fire, more Sadducee than igniter of desire. Here, I refer you back to my Matt 23 poster child blog to see an honest assessment of my spiritual depth. It’s a good thing God is defined by love and mercy or I would inhabit the lowest and ugliest regions of hell.
Two things happened in 1994 that shook my sandy foundations. One, my dad was diagnosed with a brain tumor and died. Two, Oddny and I hiked into Sho Klo refugee camp and met Rose.
Great love or great pain is required to give the soul some space to speak; to give the ear a chance to hear. Dad and Rose conjured both.