Change is a constant experience for Third Culture kids. We are just coming to terms with the fact that things are going to change a great deal in the missionary community here in Chiang Mai.
In December the school received news that the land, we as a High school operate in, no longer belongs to the school. It belongs to the neighbourhood (moobahn). The neighborhood want to restore the sports centre which was purchased by the school 15 years ago. The school purchased the rather run down sports centre in all good faith and with legal representation but the courts deemed it an illegal purchase due to a clause in the deeds.
Our options now are to build on land that we do own in the Moobahn or to move to a new site half an hour away which has been purchased. Either option will cause disruption and requires a great deal of fundraising. The unique sports programs, with the amazing facilities, that the school presently has, will also be disrupted.
Many families here are transitioning either this summer or next. Restructuring, following financial mismanagement in the International Mission Board, (IMB) has meant that teachers and other support workers need to return to their home countries this summer. Other events have occurred this year which have led to the sudden departure of key school staff and their families.
I need a religious studies teacher for next year and there are many other vacancies. The need is acute as the school supports vital ministries in this part of Asia. There are 114 people groups in Thailand and Chiang Mai is a base for reaching them.
For many students the prospect of returning to their passport country is a daunting one. The religious studies department has a unique opportunity in preparing them intellectually and spiritually for such a return.
This term I have developed a unit called Popologetics using Ted Turnau’s insightful book of that name.
The unit seeks to prepare students to use analyse media. Art, music and movies reflect the worldviews and philosophies of our generation. We are seeking to understand how to interpret various genre and how to expose idols.
This week we are analyzing two recent hits: Hozier’s ‘ Take me to Church’ and Lily Allen’s ‘The Fear’
The first blatantly exalts the ancient religion of sex worship while castigating the Roman Catholic church. The second expounds the feeling of meaninglessness and absurdity many feel about life when they stop to think.
Alongside this approach we are looking at intellectual roadblocks to the Christian faith including theodicy, hell, a perceived lack of evidence and the claim of the so called new atheists that science has buried God.
I am very grateful to Richard Dawkins for challenging the Christian world to adopt a more robust apologetic and avoid cliche’d and skimpy arguments for faith that can easily be dismantled.
Our recent discussion has been about how science is founded on the rationality of the universe. Science flourished in the West due to Christianity. No such flourishing occurred here in Asia. Without belief in a rational mind behind the universe- science is absurd. How can one trust ones own mind and thoughts if they are merely a product of natural selection by chance?
Everything continues to evolve here in Chiang Mai. Yet in the presence of change, the great logos behind this universe is not changeable, unpredictable in his essence or impulsive. Samuel writes “He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind” (1 Samuel 15:29).
Most importantly, our salvation is secure because the One who secured it doesn’t change, nor does He change the rules on us so that we may be saved one day and lose our salvation the next.
God has brought us to Chiang Mai and he has provided us the means to be here. He has done this through many of you who continue to support us which is no small matter for a family of 6.
Catherine Von Schaegel’s great hymn: Be Still my Soul, set to the tune of Finlandia is especially pertinent:
Be still, my soul; the Lord is on your side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to your God to order and provide;
In every change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; your best, your heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul; your God will undertake
To guide the future as he has the past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and wind still know
His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.
Be still, my soul; though dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
Then you will better know his love, his heart,
Who comes to soothe your sorrows and your fears.
Be still, my soul; your Jesus can repay
From his own fullness all he takes away.