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Once held dear

Through the muck of the fields the Thai Sak people trudged, planting rice. The storm charged in around mid-afternoon. The sky faded to black except for crackling and scorching lightning bolts.

“The skies are angry!” one villager yelled.

Everyone scampered for cover to wait out the storm; it wasn’t safe to go home. They were used to these severe storms during the transition from dry season to rainy. This one, so early in the rainy season, surprised them all.

Siyut, his wife, Pian, and their 15-year-old son, Tam, sought refuge in the simple shelter of their field house. They watched the dramatic skies as the storm drew closer. Then a lightning bolt struck the house, instantly killing Pian and Tam. Badly scorched, Siyut was left alone to raise his other three children.

This was only the beginning of heartache and confusion for the village.

Many villagers wanted to follow their fear-based traditions. They would normally bury the bodies of those struck down by a storm right where they fell. This was to appease the spirits and to keep bad luck from entering the village. Holes are dug so the corpses stand upright in the ground facing their rice fields so the crops will still grow. The field house, now split in two, would be destroyed.

These villagers no longer believe in the spirits, but there is still fear, still the lingering effects from previous beliefs.

American Christians struggle with this too. We don’t believe that money and things will make us happy anymore, but we still chase after the newest thing. Our houses are bigger than ever, families are smaller, and more people own storage places or sheds than before. Our focus is often on the center of American culture – stuff. It is no surprise that the Thai Sak people would still struggle with the center of their culture – fear.

There was much discussion. No one denied the spirits had power. They knew in their heads that God has more power than the spirits, but putting that knowledge and their faith to the test was a difficult decision. What if they were wrong? It could mean disaster for the whole village.

Finally, fear was conquered and tradition was set aside. The bodies were brought back into the village for a regular funeral ceremony.

Old rituals and ceremonies are steadily falling by the wayside and hearts are opening for the sowing of Truth. The villagers are letting go of what they’ve believed and held true for all of their lives, recognizing God’s Word to be the real Truth.

Are there beliefs or things that you still hold dearer than God? By giving them to Him you’ll find more freedom and joy.
Tags: Thailand, Tribal Beat Stories,
POSTED ON Jul 19, 2007 by Jackie Fallis

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