A few months ago, a local Thai Church Young Life group came (through the rain) to one of our communities on a Sunday afternoon. For many of them, this was their first time ever being in a slum community. They trudged through the puddles and we made our way to the slum community pagoda where 10 kids were waiting very anxiously for our arrival. The Young Life group then put on a really fun, really interactive kids activity complete with art and small group discussions, games and songs. They interacted with the kids so well. The kids loved them and eventually became so curious about these “friends of Kristen and Sprite”. I was so impressed with the youth from the church and their natural ability to connect to these kids and how much joy it seemed to bring both the youth and the community kids.
There was one boy who impressed Sprite and I most. His name is Sila and he is a high schooler from the church. There was one little boy from the community - maybe no more than 5 years old - who was completely overwhelmed by this massive group of people and started crying about 15 minutes into the activity. He didn’t make a sound but all of a sudden someone drew my attention to this boy who had tears just silently streaming down his cheeks. He was so sad! The youth from church didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to do! No amount of soothing would get this kid to stop crying or do anything for that matter! He wouldn’t move! Eventually, I gave up and just said, keep going with the activity. He’ll calm down.
But Sila could not just walk away from this kid. Sprite and I both got busy doing other things and after about 30 more minutes, Sprite taps me and points out Sila. He had gotten the crying boy out of his chair, away from the overwhelming crowd, and calmed down. No more tears were running down his face! The boy still looked rather apprehensive. But Sila was down on his knee, eye level with the boy, trying to soothe him. His care and compassion for this little boy spoke volumes.
Sila in Thai means “rock”. It’s the same word used in the Bible for Peter’s name “the rock”. And to me, that is my prayer. That more Thai Christians like Sila would see the poor, hear their cries, and respond with compassion. And in turn, that they would be like a solid rock for some of these kids to stand on. And that as the kids experience the love, stability, and strength of these Christians, they would begin to feel and understand the love, stability and strength they can find in God.