ALTAR-CALL SERMON AT BCS (Love in a Distant Land)
I want you guys to know that I have really come to love your country, It’s a beautiful land, with beautiful scenery, and sweet, beautiful people. And the food here is aroy mahk.
But I especially appreciate how a whole country of millions of people can have such love for their king. I see how you look upon his portrait with such respect. Here is a person who has led your kingdom with such wisdom and earned your deep respect. It’s something I wish my nation could learn to understand better. Being here with you has given me many things to think about.
All throughout your country’s history, this special person chosen to occupy the palace has always to lead and uplift the people and improve their lives. Here again, citizens of Thailand are so blessed. I do envy all of you young people.
But you know, we just heard someone sing a song about something truly amazing. Something that has happened only once in the history of our world. Please think with me about the words to this song: Amazing Love. I wanted this song, because I was so sure that of all the young people everywhere who are thinking about their future lives and the big decisions they have to make, you guys here at this Christian school would be able to understand this amazing thing: a king who dies for us. You see, this is not just a sweet song on the radio. It’s not just something that is pairaw.
Believe me, if any song I’ve ever heard was pairaw, melodious and sweet, it was this song performed for us today. But this is not just a sweet song where the tune touches our heart and where the words are tender in our souls. No. This song shares the most important reality I’ve ever discovered. A king has died for me, and a king has died for you. And this, you guys, is an amazing and beautiful truth. The best truth I have ever found. A king, a real king, who has a palace and a throne, has died for me. How can that be?
There’s something American preachers always struggle with. Here it is. Many of you might think: “Oh, here comes this man from the U.S. with his Disneyland and his Los Angeles Lakers and also his great American religion. And he wants for us to leave Buddhism behind for his great American religion.” Have any of you felt like that this week.
And you want to say: “Hey! Pastor! We are Thai people. Buddhism is our way, and it’s just as good as your big Disneyland kind of Christianity.”
I have done some studying. And I have a wonderful, lasting respect for the deep faith of Buddhist people. Your goodness. Your honesty. Your focus on simple living and on doing well for your fellow man. The teachings of Buddha have blessed your parents and your families and, yes, your nation of Thailand. So then, why do I travel here and talk about a king who dies for us?
I came here because kids in my country have pain and broken hearts, and kids in your country have pain and broken hearts. We have war; you have war. We have divorce; you have divorce. We have selfish men who use and hurt young girls; you have your Patpong Road where the prostitutes in the go-go bars are forced to sell their bodies for a few baht.
Yes. I read about Patpong Road and what happens to Thai people here and it makes me want to cry. The pain on Patpong Road is real. It is evil. It breaks God’s heart. See, you young people know. You’re not fools. You’re not blind. You know that selfishness and stealing and death are universal. That’s not an American thing, and it’s not a Thai thing. It’s an earth thing. This world is broken, and the God you and I both worship, the God in heaven, loves us so much he wants to fix it. He wants to heal our broken hearts. He wants to give you a new life, an eternal life. He loves Thai young people so much he wants to give each of you cheewit niran. Eternal life.
What happens if you become a Christian? Because I traveled to Bangkok to invite you to become Christian men and women. I confess that. This is why I am here.
To become Christian is not to betray your great Thai heritage. It is not an abandoning of the important principles in Buddhism that make you such a beautiful people. It is not a rejection of your family’s identity. It is a simple statement: “I am a person whose life has broken things in it, and I need a king to die for me. I want the dying of Jesus to bring me forgiveness and the promise of eternal life.”
Here is a hundred baht. This is Thai money. And here is five dollars. This is American money. And when this world ends, all our money will be worthless. I can wad these up and drop them on the floor and their value is very little now, and someday when our planet’s story is over, these sad little piles will be worth zero. But please listen to me. Jesus is not American. We did not invent Jesus. Jesus is the Son of God, the King who died for people in my country and people in your country. Amazing love, how can it be? That you, my King–our King–should die for all of us?
I came to you this week because Jesus is an amazing friend. An amazing King. An amazing gift. He is the best gift I ever found in my life and I flew to Bangkok to tell you that I was a broken man who needed salvation, and I found it in Jesus. That’s amazing love. Your parents sent you to a Christian school in Bangkok because they believed that you would find something better here than anywhere else. Well, this is what it is–Jesus. And if you go to your parents now and tell them, “Kuhn Paw, Kuhn Mae, you want for me to have the very best life . . . and I have found it in this amazing King who died for me” I truly believe your parents will understand. And perhaps will even join you.
So this is the moment we came here to face. Are some of you ready to choose? Amazing love–a king named Jesus has died for you. You can live forever, healed and made well and made perfect, if you choose him. And you can choose him right now. Today. There’s no reason to wait any longer.