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  • Susan Brown

Pigs and Preachers

I jumped back into the truck with pounding heart. Oh. Nothing to worry about. The black monster that suddenly appeared screaming and scrabbling on the road was just a loose pig. I should be used to this stuff by now, but it still takes me by surprise.

It was Sunday in Pa Bong Nah. The little group was already gathered in the simple church building when we arrived. Matthew, who attends Paul’s preachers’ training, had taught Sunday School to the church children already. He also gave them a Lisu reading lesson. Pastors have an important role in the villages and it is a plus when a pastor is able to teach the children. They learn Thai in school, if there is a school to attend, but their written tribal language will be lost unless someone is able to teach the next generation.

Paul preached a good sermon, although it was a challenging situation. This church is Lisu and, though some understand Lahu or Thai, many do not. Paul spoke in English, Lek interpreted into Thai, and Matthew changed it once more, this time to Lisu. It takes a lot of time to get anything said in that kind of circumstance, but God is able to do His work in spite of hindrances.

After church we brought out the medicine. As usual, people from the village lined up with the church members to ask for help. Doing medicine required two translators, too. Lek and Asa helped me as we gave out medicine for stomach ailments, for back and knee aches, for “itchy” and, as is usual for this village, for worms.

Then it was lunchtime. We ate on the open porch of a house with a stunning panoramic view of rugged mountain peaks. Chicks which had just lost their baby down and were beginning to look like chickens pecked around our feet and the dogs came nosing up to see what there was to eat. One black dog seemed unusually unruly and caused a commotion on the porch. As it ran out of the shadows toward me I saw it wasn’t a dog – but another loose pig. One of the children chased it past our table and around the house.

Some of the members had questions and asked Paul’s advice. Two ladies were building houses on the church land (a normal situation here) and there was a dispute about the property lines and about who had the right to build. As Paul was considering their questions, yet another, bigger, pig ran squealing out from behind a building. It charged right toward me. I screamed, jumped, and dodged the pig, which the villagers found entertaining.

One of the ladies brought up another question. She would like her neighbors to move their pig house because it was too close to her home and the smell was bad. I personally think the pigs ought to stay put in whatever house they live in!

On the way home, we stopped to visit another of Paul’s students. Dwangsawaang is a little guy with a funny, high voice, but he is a good student and serious about evangelizing. He has been going over to preach in a village which does not have a church but which has about ten families who profess to be Christians. Missionaries from two different denominations came and left years before, leaving behind lots of confusion about Biblical teaching. Dwangsawaang wants to teach them, but he has a lot to learn, himself. I’m thankful he is faithful to come to Paul’s training and is here in Mae Ai this week.

Dwangsawaang’s wife shared her testimony with us. She used to worship the spirits, she said. She had six children and they all died. That grief and the realization that the spirits could not help her brought her to seek the Lord. She was saved and had three more children, all of whom are now Christians and serving the Lord.

“God has been good to me and I will never, ever, go back to worshipping the spirits,” she said.

Then it was home again to our lovely new house to prepare for preachers’ training this week. The Thailand men are faithful and with few exceptions are here every month. Paul labors with them to make sure they understand – and it is a labor. Because he has both Lisu and Lahu, everything has to be said three times. Lek says it in Thai, which the Lisu understand, and then his dad, Moses, repeats again in Lahu. The men have surprising gaps in basic Bible knowledge, so he has lots to cover.

He gave them a test today to see if they were grasping the truths. One multiple choice question was about the apostle Paul. “God called Paul to be 1) an apostle, 2) a deacon or 3) a football player.”

One man chose #3 – a football player.

“Why do you think God called him to be a football player?” Paul asked.

“Well, in football you travel all around the field tirelessly, giving all of your energies. Paul was like that.” I guess that’s one way to look at it!

One more day of training and then home again. The kids will be home from their visits to the mountains on Saturday – and we will have some additions to our family. More about that next blog.

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