It was a year I will never forget! 1988 would see my family move back
to the States after spending eight of the most rewarding years of our
lives in the mission field of Thailand. Our departure was more sudden
than we had anticipated, as there were problems in our home
congregation and the money just was not there. Paula and I prayed for
wisdom, and the answer came loud and clear. Yet, we had made so many
friends; and it was difficult to pack up eight years into shipping
crates and footlockers, get on a train which would take us to an
airplane, and just leave!
But we did!
However, before we left, we spent several weeks traveling all over the
country saying good bye to those we loved so much. It was a difficult
assignment, but God provided the grace we all needed.
I remember one particular good bye that will stay with me forever, or I
hope it does. His name was Paw Phim. Paw in the Thai language is a term
of respect and endearment for older men. It is equivalent to our
Paw Phim had become like a second father to me, for it was in his
village that I preached my first sermon in Thai. On that particular
day, I knew no one understood, but Paw Phim took my hand after the
sermon and told me it was one of the finest sermons he had ever heard.
Years later I would ask Paw Phim if he really understood what I said,
and he told me, "Of course not, but what your face and heart said on
that day spoke much louder than what came out of your mouth. I knew
then that you loved the Thai people, and it was then I became to love
you like a son."
WOW! Aren't I a lucky man?
Paw Phim was the last stop on my circuit of "good byes." It was the
most difficult. I didn't usually bring food when I went to visit him
because it offended him. But I was tired of seeing him get up at 4:00
in the morning and walk over a mile on those swollen, beaten up knees,
to go to a small pond to seine a few little fish for me to have in my
soup and rice for breakfast. I was tired of seeing his family do
without so I could have a little meat with my rice and vegetables at
the evening meal. For my last visit, I brought two chickens and a bag
full of vegetables and fruit. He didn't like it one bit and accepted it
However, I was not to outdo Paw Phim! At our last meal, we had roasted
beef along with a host of other delicacies. It was unbelievable! We
never had beef -- there just wasn't any to be had -- water buffalo,
yes, but not real beef from a cow! Yet there it was.
I asked him where he got it and he told me not to worry about it. I was
to eat it and enjoy it for this was the least he could do for me before
we had to say our good byes. I kept digging, because I wanted to know
what he had just done for me. It was then that my heart began to break,
for I found out that Paw Phim had slaughtered his only cow, which gave
milk to his grand-kids, so I could have beef at our last meal.
I gently rebuked him and offered to give him money to buy another cow.
It was then that these words poured out of his weather-beaten face,
"Joe, I didn't give my cow to you, I gave it to God. Do you think I
would do that for you?"
Again, WOW! How does God make people like this? I don't know, but
everyone should have a Paw Phim in his or her life!
This story came to its powerful conclusion three years later. I went
back to visit my second home in Thailand. Of course I went to see Paw
Phim. His health was bad, but his mind and heart were the same. He
asked me if I remembered that cow he had slaughtered, and I said that I
had. He then took my hand and led me to the back of his house. Standing
there were three beautiful cows!
I asked Paw Phim where he got them, and his answer? "Where do you think
I got them, Joe? God delivered them to me three weeks after you left!"
No, I didn't buy those cows, but someone did! How God provided those
three cows I'll never know, but I don't need to know!
The point of this story is not about the cows, but about the faith and
trust of a Thai Christian named Paw Phim who lives on the other side of
the world, yet still teaches us that faith and trust will always win
the day! Thank you Paw Phim! I'll see you soon.
~ By: Joe Bagby ~
Now I want to tell you, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his
kindness has done for the churches in Macedonia. Though they have
been going through much trouble and hard times, their wonderful joy
and deep poverty have overflowed in rich generosity. For I can
testify that they gave not only what they could afford but far
more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again
and again for the gracious privilege of sharing ... (2 Corinthians 8:1-4).
[ By: Joe Bagby (firstname.lastname@example.org), © 2005 -- submitted by: Hart Dowd (email@example.com) ]
All Rights Reserved.