By Adam Griffith
My wife, Kristy, and I have been on the mission field in Thailand since February 21, 2012. Here in Chiang Mai we work with youth who have been orphaned or trafficked or have been sent into the city by their parents to study because they don’t have access to good schools in their village. We’ve created a ministry to the youth workers and youth within this system. We want to create a network where best practices can be shared and minimum standards can be agreed upon and enforced. We have a tutoring program and hosted our first youth camp in October.
We’ve gone through ups and downs in our time here. We’ve had blessings—this year we had our first child. We’ve had heartbreak—Kristy’s mom passed away unexpectedly last December. But through it all we see God moving.
And to think—we weren’t originally planning to come here.
Prior to meeting each other, Kristy and I both made a commitment in Bible college to work with youth outside of the States. When we got married, we knew we wanted to move overseas but had no idea where. We set aside a year to focus on building a foundation in our marriage. During that year we designated specific times to pray and fast and invited others to join us in the process.
While we never got a specific “go here and do this” message from the Lord, God narrowed our focus. I felt convicted about moving to a place where the church was in the minority, making up a small percentage of the overall population. Kristy felt we needed to join a team. Eventually I convinced her that she was a city girl, and that was OK because God had a hand in making her that way. We narrowed our search to urban contexts in the 10/40 window with existing teams in place.
While working at the home office of our missions organization, we let everyone know we wanted to transition to the field. There was a short season when we got excited about China, but neither of the opportunities we decided to pursue got back to us. However God used that time and excitement to get me over the fear of learning a tonal language. I knew the language-learning process would be hard for me, and I had been convinced it made more sense to move to one of the countries with a language that was easier to learn. But God was opening me up to new possibilities.
In the office one day, a coworker invited us over for dinner. I assumed the family was going to ask us to join them, but their ministry was to youth in a rural context—not our plan. Feeling bad to decline their ministry offer, but not one to pass up a free meal, I agreed to visit. They explained why each of us would be a good fit with the Thai culture where they were headed and a good fit with them as a team. They shared a vision to move into the city and start a new ministry to displaced youth.
Kristy was ready to commit right then. Unbeknownst to me she had begun praying that people who fit the criteria we felt God had given us would simply ask us to join them. We didn’t commit that night or even that month, but God continued to answer prayers pointing us in that direction.
These answered prayers not only brought us here, but they sustained us through the process of acculturating. We moved knowing no one (our future teammates were still in the States). Yet in a city of over a million people, we ended up in an apartment that was only a 5-minute walk from where our new language teacher taught and right next door to the church where her husband was the pastor. She has become family, the church has become our church, and God has continued to confirm to us that we are exactly where he wants us. T
Find out more about Adam and Kristy’s ministry: www.youthhope.com/where-we-work/thailand