Sunday at Plang Hoc
I took a firm hold on the door handle — and on my stomach. We were late, and Bro. Anond was making up the time by zipping around the sharp curves up the mountain to Plang Hoc.
The scenery, when I dared look at it, was stunning. Thick, green jungle with tall trees, vines, and banana plants. Tarzan would be right at home here. As we neared Plang Hoc, we saw more cleared area planted in tea. Lipton has fields there, as well as another company I didn’t recognize. The tea leaves had been cut and piled on top of the tea bushes to dry like big brown hats.
At last we came to the village on the very top of the mountain and to the church building, built on the highest point. The roads zig-zag steeply down from the church and the church members’ houses seem to perch precariously on the edge of the cliff. It’s a beautiful place, with breath-taking views whichever way you look.
The building is one of the largest, because until recently, this church was one of the most flourishing. A split has decimated the congregation. The pastor began teaching heresy. Many of the church members recognized his teaching as falsehood and for more than a year every effort was made to correct the situation. Recently they finally voted him out — and he refused to go. His adult children in the church rallied around him and we heard terrible tales of thuggery and revenge on the part of the former pastor and his family. We don’t know all the story, but it was evident that this group, when they found they were legally forced to leave the property, stole the pulpit and all the chairs. We also saw the graffiti they painted on the walls of the building.
We wondered why no children or young people were present when the small group met with us on Sunday. We knew a lot of the members went with the former pastor in the split, but we were still surprised at how few were left. Paul preached an encouraging sermon to them about not being bitter and about forgiveness. He and Bro. Camp both praised these people for standing on the truth at such great cost to themselves personally.
After lunch, which they lovingly prepared for us, we found out that they had kept the children at home for fear the renegade group would physically attack and take revenge. They wanted the children and young people out of harm’s way. We also discovered that some of the members were blocking the road into the village to protect us during the service.
Nothing happened, and we were perfectly safe. It made us realize afresh, though, that we are not in the U.S.A. In the jungle villages the people tend to take matters into their own hands. The police don’t speak their language, so they deal with trouble-makers themselves — a situation which often leads to trouble and heartache.
Church splits are always painful, but at least at home no one threatens to burn down our houses if we don’t agree with them! Please pray for this small band of believers. They need encouragement and God’s blessing. Also, please pray for those who were swayed by the former pastor, that they would see the truth and be restored to the church.
Blessings from Thailand,