A letter from Leith & Carol Fujii on home assignment from Thailand
Dear Precious Family in Christ,
Last year I shared in chapel at the Bangkok Institute of Theology about Jesus’ invitation to his first disciples to come and see. As we respond by faith to follow, Jesus invites us to discover who He is and join Him where He’s at work. It’s exciting to see what happens when we accept that invitation to “Come (follow Me) and see!”
Although we have not been directly involved with refugee families for some time, God has recently led us into relationship with a couple of families. Approaching us at the end of a worship service at the International Church of Bangkok, “Kenny” smiled brightly, his eyes dancing, “I won't need a ride home with you today.…Pastor gave us money and now we can go to buy some food!”
I smiled back, wincing inside, wondering how many meals they had gone without this month. I thought to myself, When was the last time I had to trust God to provide my daily food? For Kenny and family, it happens too regularly when the little money they have runs out. This soft-spoken gentleman used to be an influential young leader in a war-torn, politically unstable country in Africa where about 4 million civilians have been killed since 1998. Kenny explained, “I fled for my life around five years ago because I was in grave danger. I came to Thailand seeking refuge. However, Thailand has not adopted the U.N. Refugee Resolution, so, refugees and asylum seekers alike find no help from the government and are too often the target of officials seeking bribes or we unwelcomed 'strangers' are constantly in fear of being arrested. If we are caught, we would be confined until we could somehow arrange money to post bail, which most of us could never pay.”
Kenny continued: “My wife has been missing, and is presumed to have been killed. Two years ago, my children, Dee and Laura, were smuggled out of the country after their grandmother’s arrest. After so long a separation, Laura couldn’t even recognize me. Though life continues to be hard for us, we are grateful to God to be alive and together as a family. “
Kenny told us that his application for UNHCR refugee status has been rejected twice already. After two rejections, the chance is very slim for reconsideration. The U.N. no longer considers his country a priority for resettlement. Kenny lives daily with the real possibility of being caught and jailed for remaining in Thailand illegally. He says: “Every day I begin to lose hope and patience, as we wait for a reply from the U.N. But God has been our source and strength. We are grateful to church members who have given friendship and help."
Kenny has never asked us for money or food but quietly makes his needs known to His Father in heaven. We pray that our Father would show us how we should be a part of God’s care for Kenny and other “strangers in the land” who long for safety and a country to call home.
Recently, while doing our stateside Interpretation Assignment, we heard from Kenny through email. “Dear Sister and Brother,” he began, “I have just heard from the UNHCR. Dee and Laura have been granted refugee status!”
What can we say, but Hallelujah! How we thank God for this answer to prayer!
Please thank God together with us for this good news about Dee and Laura.
Now Kenny waits for the results of his interview. Please pray that the result will be positive as well! Believing God, let’s pray for the resettlement process ahead.
Please thank God with us for those international churches who actively care for the “unwanted sojourner.” Pray that Thai congregations also would grow in having a heart of active compassion for these people. “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth (1 John 3:18 NIV).
We are having a wonderful time during our itineration in the U.S. meeting as well as renewing relationships with congregations across the U.S. The time has been full and rich and going by all too quickly. We are so blessed by all of you and the World Mission team in Louisville who share in prayer and support of our ministry. Praising God for His faithfulness through you!
We invite you to join us in our next term of service in Thailand! We appreciate your continuing partnership through correspondence, prayers, and financial support of our ministry.
Following Jesus together with you,
Carol Fujii for us:
Leith and Carol Fujii
The 2013 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 195
Read more about Leith and Carol Fujii's ministry