Dina from Thailand Testimony

As you may already know I come from Thailand, from a normal loving family of four.  I am the third one of the family, having an elder sister who is some nine years older than me, then my elder brother who is three years older and a younger sister who is two years younger than me.                                                                                  

 I came to know the Lord when I was seventeen coming up to eighteen.  It was a critical time of my life, when I found myself with no parents.  I lost my mother four years previously from leukaemia and I thought it was bad enough, though my father tried hard to substitute for her, it still left a big gap in my life.

 My family was living at Narkornsawan, some three hours train journey from Bangkok, where I was studying at the time of my father’s death.  Penny, my eldest sister who was already a Christian, was doing nursing training at St. Bartholomew’s  

Hospital, in London.  My brother had just finished his first degree in Thailand and was going to continue with the second, but decided to take a job as a teacher instead.  Anne, my younger sister was still at school at home with my father then.                                                                                                                

 I remember being surprised coming back from school to find my uncle waiting for me.  I knew that something was wrong, and sure enough, he told me that my father died suddenly of a heart attack.  I packed my bag and went home with him on a train immediately.  It was the longest and loneliest train journey I ever had.  I didn’t cry and I didn’t feel sad at the time, I just suddenly felt so alone, unsafe and insecure.  I was so afraid to live my life without any kind of protection and guidance.  My family life was full of chaos and confusion for a while, till Penny came back to Thailand for the funeral.  We were very fortunate that Penny was a lot older than us, very grown up and mature in her nature with ability to think and make decisions.  She always looked after us as though she was our mother since our mother died, and we respected her with highly.

 As Penny was converted through a missionary in Thailand before coming to England, she had many Christian friends whom we had opportunity to meet.  They were often around us and willing to do what they could to help.  I found them to be very sincere, kind and felt comfortable and safe to be with, especially Wendy, a Welsh missionary from Cardiff with whom I developed a rapport.

Wendy was a very experienced missionary with a loving, strong and convincing personality which complimented her great faith in the Lord.  She didn’t seem to mind me confronting her with many questions, and was always able to provide the answers straight away.

The battle for my soul

Like many other young educated students, I took evolution as the most civilised thought and possible answer to the formation of life and hence the world.  I confronted Wendy with this, as I knew that she believed in creation.  As usual, I expected her to tell me how God made the world, but instead, she said to me that if I want to know how the world was made, I had to read the book of Genesis from the Bible myself, and I thank God that I did. 

That was the first time I opened the Bible, (a Thai Bible) to read it myself.  I was disappointed that I did not find any facts and figures, but only the plain statement of God’s creation.  Nevertheless, I found the Bible fascinating enough that I went on reading it to the point that I accepted that there is a God in Christianity, just like Buddha for Buddhism, and Mohamed for Islam, but whom I should believe to be the only real One to follow, was another matter.

Life got tougher for me at this time as many changes of plans and decisions to be made for our future as a family.  We decided that my younger sister should continue her education at home being looked after by my brother, and I should come to do nursing training in England being looked after by Penny.  We seemed to be happy and settled with this, though I had some doubts and fears for myself and was not all for the idea of coming to England.  My family was a little suspicious of my unwillingness to come to England and teased me that I must have get a boyfriend at home.  This made me feel that I had got to prove them wrong. 

I was happy and contented living in Thailand, and I love my home land.  The thought of living a life in a foreign land was very daunting and frightening.  I never felt so lost, vulnerable and insecure.  I was so restless and burdened by these thoughts and so badly wanted to be rid of them, so that I could be confident and in control of my own life again.  I really missed my parents at this time and wished that I could have them back with me again. 

 I decided to resolve the matter by becoming religious.  I thought this would keep me in a good and righteous path, and I should be safe all the way.  Buddhism seemed to be the natural choice for me as both of my parents were very strong Buddhists.  My mother used to get up at five in the morning to cook the best food to give to the monks who walked past the house in the early morning.  My father would pay anything for some old and ancient Buddha, and had a room full of them (which my brother inherited).  He would also make offerings of food, burn incense and pray to them every morning.  But my parents never tried to control our minds or put pressure on us to be like them, and often said that we were free to think and believe what we liked, as they were our lives to live.

Buddhism teaches re-incarnation which involves making merit and doing many good deeds in this life in order to be born better in the next life, and so on.  I remembered having a fight with my brother when we were small, and managed to lock him in a room.  He kept on pleading me, saying how nice I was as his little sister, but I refused to let him out.  Then, he tried different tactic by saying that it was naughty of me to lock my brother in, and that I could be born as a dog in the next life.  Still, I remained stubborn saying that it’s not all that bad to be a dog.  But he went on further to say that I may not be just a nice normal dog, but I could be a stray dog with leprosy, because I was so naughty.  This really worked, and I sprang up and released him instantly.

You can see that logically, by being a religious Buddhist, I would still not be relieved of my burden.  Since I just could not rely on myself to be good and righteous all the time, there was no guarantee that everything would be all right for me in the end.  I confided this to Wendy, who told me something which I never knew before, that if I believed in God and committed my life to Him, I would be saved, and once I was saved by Him, I would be saved forever, no matter what happened, and my reward is to be with Him in heaven.

 

FREEDOM & BAPTISM

Dina married to Trevor

I found this thought to be very comforting and reassuring and I wanted Him to be my God also.  We prayed that night asking God to come into my life and take control according to His will.  After we prayed, I felt that all my burdens had been lifted, so relieved, carefree, and confident I was with my life again.  I could feel His presence with me, though I could not hear Him, nor see Him, and there was not any wondrous sign.  I just felt great peace and joy in my heart.  Since then, I found myself praying to Him instead of Buddha in everything I did, and He became part of my life.

 I started going to church, meeting and enjoying fellowship with other Thai Christians, reading the Bible and singing hymns (in Thai) with my spiritual eyes opened.  I also had the pleasure of witnessing the baptism of Penny who had been putting it off till after the death of my father, and thought that I would like to do the same soon.

There were many problems with practical arrangements to be made such as getting a work permit, a passport and a placement for training.  But the Lord seemed to have gone before me and confirmed His will to me in that we got through these with minimal difficulties.  I landed in England and started my nursing at St. Thomas’ hospital in London in July 1973. 

 Most of the Christian staff at the hospital would go to either Westminster Chapel or All Souls Church.  As all my friends went to All Souls, I settled there.  I joined a house group with many newly converted Christians who were soon to be baptised.  I found them very encouraging and helpful. But after hearing many testimonies with wonderful feelings and experiences with specific time and places, I began to have some doubts whether my conversion was real.  Is God really with me?  Should I go forward for baptism?

My doubts were shared by another girl in the group, and we decided to consult an elder in the church, who reassured us that conversion was an individual and personal experience between ourselves and God, and none are the same.  God works in peoples’ lives in different ways according to His plan.  If we believed in God, and wanted to commit our lives to Him, follow Him, serve Him, and testified to this in public, that is all that matters.  I was baptised the following Spring by John Stott at All Souls. 

 I quickly learned over a period of time that conversion was not just a one-off work of God, but it is only the beginning, and He would continue to be with me and work in my life as I grew in fellowship with Him.  One of my friends quoted the parable of the mustard seed to me (Matthew 13:31-32; Mark 4:30-32; Luke 13:18-19) which I found very helpful and true in my case.  My faith was very small and simple, with little experience of God, and limited knowledge of the Bible at the time of my conversion.  But, I can say that through living my Christian life with God for the last thirty years the many troubles and trials have brought me closer to Him.  My faith has never been greater and my fellowship with Him is sweeter than before, and I shall look forward to enjoying it more.