Many have lost their jobs; debts are increasing while incomes are paused until who knows when, and so many are starving in lockdown.
As missionaries in Bangkok, Thailand, my parents could not ignore the pleas and stories that they heard from people in our community. So then, what to do?
My mom thought that since our church is paused and doing only online services, we could reroute the money we used to have for lunches on Sundays towards a food mission where we would give out free food every Wednesday. (Asian churches provide lunch on Sundays which might not be common in Michigan). We started off small at a small tent shop that is located in the middle of a three-way road which connects two regions housing people in poverty. These people are the ones who work one day to live another day; factory workers, maids, construction workers, and so on.
“I am honored that God is using me in a way where I can serve and help.“
With only a USD $70 budget, we were able to feed 500 people during our first week, and it wasn’t enough because we had to send people away when we ran out of food. Then we decided to share about this ministry opportunity with our contacts in Korea and even to people in Michigan. And slowly, people donated to help this mission and the people of Thailand.
In our second week, our food mission fed 600 people, the third week 700, fourth week 800, and in week 7, 1000 people came in to receive food from us. This mission grew so much in such a short span of time. The governor of the region, heads of villages, policemen started helping us by packing food and making sure that there were no issues with the current laws regarding COVID-19.
Jesus tells the rich man, go sell all your possessions and help those in need. (Matthew 19:21) This one particular story motivated me while I was serving food in the hot humid weather. Another story that inspired me to this work is when Jesus says that it is through the weak and the poor, we are able to serve Him and do His work. I think to myself that I’m not just serving the people who are starving during this crisis, but I’m also doing the work Christ has planned and assigned for me to do during this time. I am honored that God is using me in a way where I can serve and help. Even though our church is small and limited, we are able to come together to spread God’s love during harsh times for our surrounding communities.
My parents are leaders whom I look up to with utmost respect as they have served as missionaries in Thailand for over 30 years. It would be endless to write down how my parents’ influence affects in my life and faith, but one thing is for sure: without them, I won’t be able to serve and love the people as I do today.
One saying that my mom always told me while growing up (because I would always complain of our church having people with problems) is how Jesus said it is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. Jesus didn’t come for the righteous; he came for the sinners. (Mark 2:17) Through this passage, I was able to witness my parents’ endurance here as missionaries; as they were cheated, backstabbed, look down upon, and even threatened with death. I learned the meaning of unconditional love as they continued to give their all for the people of Thailand and respect every single person no matter what. Their work as missionaries has taught me how to serve, love unconditionally, and most importantly to have an unshakable faith in God.
This food mission now not only feeds two communities, but we are also able to send our packaged lunches all the way to six other communities because our whole church comes together to cook, package, and send the food out. By doing this, we not only help starving people, but are also coming together as a community while spreading the love of God, involving people around the world (even from Holland, Michigan), and my church here in Thailand.
Senior Hajin Jang is a recording arts composite major and ministry minor from Bangkok, Thailand. He is the president of the college’s International Club which has “taught me how to be a stronger leader despite differences in culture and race. It has also shown me how to strengthen the community that I am in. I would like to mention my ministry advisor, Pamela VanPutten, who has a significant role in aiding this food mission all the way from Holland and by sharing the story to churches and friends in the area.”
Jang was also recently featured on the “No Shame” podcast created and hosted by Hope alum, John Grooters ’84. Watch and listen to “When Plans Changes, God Works.”