Reprinted from Dinuba Sentinel, November 27, 2008. go to “Seeing Love and Hope Where There was Once Despair” post for the first part
By Brandi Nuse-Villegas
Part two of a story about Dinuba woman Stephanie Seitz’ involvement in an outreach in Pattaya, Thailand.
Thinking about what she would like to say to readers about her recent trip to Pattaya, Thailand, Stephanie began, “Love changes communities, individuals, and stereotypes… and always trumps anger and judgment.”
From September 14 to September 28, Stephanie was involved in an outreach called Extreme Love with over a hundred teammates from Thailand and around the world.
“The Thai church was encouraged, energized, equipped, and excited for what God has for them. Local believers, churches, and outreach ministry staff were uplifted with prayer, labor, finances, and other support. We probably talked to thousands of people. Hundreds of people came to Christ. Over a hundred people had a physical healing, and that’s a low estimate.”
She shared that one day, they prayed for a man who was blind. By the time they left, she recalled, “He said that he felt peace in his stomach and his chest. We thought ‘Oh, God we want to see this man see!’”
“Two days later,” she said. “Another group went to the same slum…They started praying for him too … one of his neighbors was walking by and he said ‘Red,’ and she was wearing a red shirt. She froze and looked at him like, ‘What did you say?” And she asked him, ‘You can see red?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, I can see red.’
“So she started calling all the rest of the neighbors together, saying, ‘Don’t go home, something is happening here.’ They kept praying and he saw shadows of some other things. One of the guys who was praying felt God was telling him that he ought to put saliva on the blind man’s eyes, but he thought, ‘Are you sure? Is that cultural appropriate?’ So he did it subtly.”
“The lady in the red shirt explained that the man had been blind for nine years because his brother-in-law had beaten him so badly that he lost his vision and had brain damage. So they started praying into that relationship and that situation and the guy actually started— unprompted— to forgive his brother-in-law.”
“They kept praying and finally he locked eyes with the guy standing in front of him and he said, ‘I see you!’ And the whole slum exclaimed ‘We have never seen a God work like this before!’ And at least sixty came to accept Christ.”
Stephanie shared that one day they met a man who was obviously intoxicated. “We were praying for him and he just fell down and he was praying to God, ‘I want to see you! I want to see you!’ We didn’t expect that. Then he started weeping. We asked, ‘What did He say? What did He tell you?’ and he said that God told him ‘I’m your father, and I’m fighting for you.’ Immediately after, he said in a sober voice, ‘It’s gone!’ He was delivered from alcoholism right there on the spot!”
She noted that she got to return to an old fishing village that she visited last year, where many elderly were healed.
“Stuff like this was happening everyday…there are so many stories!”
“We helped people leave bars/ brothels. Some were bought out— one of our team members bought a woman’s freedom for $80. Some people were brought out who were taken from Cambodia. These human trafficking victims were freed and resettled back home.”
Stephanie and her team also got to be a part of a micro-financing ministry that started on the spot by using extra donations they received to help a man, just released from prison and needing to support himself and his daughter, with a motorbike that would help him travel between dumps and collect recyclables and other sellable items.
“It was beyond what he could imagine.”
Among one of the most poignant experiences for Stephanie was spending time with AIDS orphans in an orphanage run by Mercy Center.
“I was blessed to go three times and I just loved it. Of all the times I got to hold kids, play with them, bathe and change them, the best time was the last day we were there.” She said that they got to share words they believed God was telling them about the kids. “It was the most amazing thing to see a kid say, ‘God loves me? He loves me that much? He says that He is proud of me? He says He’s my Father?’”
“I can’t even put into words how much that meant to them and to us.”
“Those twenty kids… they are going to be nation changers. People wrote these kids off, but no, God says they are valued. They are amazing and they are going to do great things.”
Stephanie commented how God changed the way she saw the city, the situation, and the people, to see the hope and what He wanted to do. “When I think of Pattaya, I don’t see it as a dark place, which I thought for so long. This is a place where God’s light has broken through.”
She said that she also realized who she was as God’s child and what a difference that made, “What power, and faith, and love is in that!”
Continuing her thoughts on what she wanted to say to her community, Stephanie shared that before her trip, “God is real and active and very willing to enter places where some people would not expect. I want people to know what happened was true and if God can do this there, it can happen anywhere, including locally.”
For more information on Mercy Center, go to http://www.mercypattaya.com.
Stephanie’s team also partnered with Bridges to the Nations (www.bridgestothenations.com), Glory Hut (www.gloryhutfoundation.org), and Lynne/Ron Thompson, who began the micro-financing projects (firstname.lastname@example.org)