Dear friends and family,
Sorry to leave you all hanging last week, but as we promised, here is the continuation of the story. I say “continuation” because I don’t think we can accurately say the “rest” of the story when the story keeps unfolding. :)
To the story though, the big problem with the house was that it had three spirit houses right at the front. Now, it’s no secret that we live in a Buddhist country, but the spirit houses aren’t as connected with Buddhism as I initially thought. The people strongly believe in the spirits and are afraid of them. So when they build a building they put a spirit house for the spirit that inhabited the land to dwell in and they take offerings of food or drinks or flowers to the spirits usually every day. Some people also believe that the spirits of their dead relatives stay there too. These are deeply held beliefs that are much more animist than Buddhist, but they are firmly embedded in the culture here. (I make no profession of understanding all that perfectly, so I might be mistaken in my understanding.) Whatever the case, it’s a really really big deal, and most people will refuse to take away the spirit house.
So we understood that it was a big thing to ask them to remove the spirit houses, but we also didn’t want to rent the house with the spirit houses still there. We believe in the Creator God who is leading us to this city to be a light for Him, and what would people think if we invited them to our house and they see spirit houses there? We're not afraid of the spirits because God is bigger, but what sort of a silent witness would those spirit houses be?
Due to the sensitivity of the issue, we asked a dear Indian-Thai friend to talk to the owners on our behalf. Thankful that she shared our conviction, we prayed earnestly that, if this was the house for us, God would move the hearts of the owners as she shared our request with them. She called them right away, and just a few minutes later, called back with the report that they were not only willing to have the spirit houses removed, but they would also remove anything else from inside the house that we weren’t comfortable with.
When she called us to tell us the news, I (Hannah) was sort of holding my breath. I had honestly been doubting that any Thai Buddhist would be willing to do such a thing. I had even begun to question our stand, but after talking it over again, had realized there was no other way. And here God not only rebuked my lack of faith, but also strengthened my confidence in His leading.
That wasn’t all though. The owners told our friend why it was that we had gotten two different answers from them initially. Apparently they had had quite a few other requests to rent the house but had always said “no.” This time though, after the husband told us “no,” his wife felt impressed that they should rent it to us. Impressed? We believe it was the Holy Spirit that not only gave her that impression, but also made them willing to have all the Buddhist things removed from the property.
The Lord also worked in their hearts to be willing to make the 4+ hour drive the next day to show us the house and to sign a rental contract. They even went the extra mile and paid people to clean the house and cut the grass.
God really does still work in special ways on behalf of his people. Those "special ways” don’t usually come (or maybe just aren’t noticed) when things are all going smoothly though. They are best noticed and most appreciated when we feel our need and we put our dependance on Him.
Here’s to learning to be more thankful for the uncomfortable and stretching experiences. :)
That’s the story about the house. But what about the well? What about the move?
We’ve got a whole bunch more to tell about that, and we’ll try to share it as soon as we can!
God bless each of you!
Jonathan and Hannah