A letter from Leith and Carol Fujii in Thailand
Sawatdee, Family and Friends in Christ,
The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it (Psalm 24:1).
We are now amidst some of the hottest temperatures (100+ degrees) since we have been living in Thailand. Yes, April has been a time for Happy Easter and Happy Thai New Year (Songkran) greetings, but we’re not so sure about “Happy Earth Day”!
When Carol returned to Thailand back in October, neighbors greeted her with, “Welcome back to Thailand…just in time for the flood!” And the floodwaters certainly did come to Bangkok—the worst in 50 years! Yes, we had unusually heavy rains last year and in hindsight better water management decisions could have been made. But circumstances were significantly compounded by the way we have exercised stewardship of the earth entrusted to our care. An example of this is how bribery and corruption have paved the way for construction on land that was designated for canals and flood plains—there was simply no place for the water to go! Matters that previously went unnoticed suddenly became glaringly obvious, and polluted waters stagnated for weeks before they finally dispersed. Globally, the crisis was felt in many countries of the world as Thailand is a key producer for computer parts. Submerged factories brought production and export to a halt.
But unlike so many of our neighbors and friends in Bangkok, our home and campus were not inundated, and we had the opportunity to assist others who weren’t as fortunate. Amidst the great turmoil and losses suffered in the floods, there was a beautiful spirit of care and cooperation among the Thai. It was also a very important opportunity for the church to express and extend the love and hope of Christ. Together with neighbors, we joined with the Thai church in filling sandbags, collecting and distributing survival essentials, as well as providing emergency shelter and assisting in the cleanup after the crisis. In difficult times like this people have a unique encounter with the God who otherwise seems to only be “inside the church.”
While filling sandbags together, the Thai would ask, “Why, as foreigners, are you helping, and what are you doing here in Thailand?” It was a joy to be able to represent Christ and you as we had the privilege of sharing the love of Christ with people so very naturally!
After the floodwaters subsided, one of the churches where our BIT alumni serve organized a Christmas Eve gathering. Zion Sai Mai church, with fewer than 80 members, had significantly worked together to help their neighbors during their time of duress. Many of these unchurched neighbors, touched by the love they saw, joined to celebrate Christ’s birth. It was fun for us to be a part of preparing for and being there for this celebration. There were over 1,000 in attendance and a number of these who had never known the love of Christ are now taking first steps of faith and growing in Christ through the ministry of the church.
Of course everyone is wondering what will happen this year. Most of Bangkok is below sea level and already sinking at what experts say is 1-5 cm per year, with predications of parts being submerged by 2030. Will Bangkok become the next Atlantis? City dwellers who have means are beginning to buy land on higher ground outside of the capital city. Flooding may well become a regular part of life in Thailand. But living with the uncertainty, we have the assurance that our God is both in control and with us, working all things together for God’s good purpose. We and the earth belong to our Lord. We were intended for relationship with our Creator, who desires this planet and all who dwell in it to be healed as we are reconciled to our Lord and to each other through a living faith in our risen Lord Jesus Christ.
Earth Day has come and gone. “Going green” continues to be trendy, even fashionable, but most of it is mere rhetoric. A commitment to living green as a lifestyle is far from reality. Air conditioners are running full blast during a very hot “summer” here in Thailand, and the 2011 flood is no longer on the forefront of people’s minds. Please pray as we consider how to live as those entrusted with our Father’s world and to be ready to proclaim the good news Christ offers to a world that needs healing.
Thank you for your continuing partnership in Christ’s commission.
Carol and Leith Fujii
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 183
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So go0d to get your update! May the Lord continue to use you mightily in good times and in bad in the lives of Thai people. Much love, Lani Romans 15:13
Dear Carol and Leith: Thank you for your prayer letter. During the floods I often wondered how you were doing and offered prayers on your behalf. I find it amazing how natural disasters bring communities together, only to disperse shortly thereafter. May Christ continue to use the vivid memories of the flood to tell the good news of the gospel. Just a quick personal note. We need rain. My garden is very dry. I planted some black walnut trees. It looks like I will loose some because I did not keep them watered. I continue to work as a part time chaplain at an area Assisted Living facility. God bless your ministry as seek to praise him in word and deed. Shalom, ew