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From Splinters to Splendour
The change was dramatic for this young Thai man when he discovered the One who could not only help him make a living, but could also give him life.

Sweat dripping down his brow, Uthane Inchai bent his aching back to grab a long piece of wood from the endless pile. His arm flinched back and he found find several splinters sticking into his hand.

Uthane Inchai plays drums as part of his pastoral ministry at the church in Borabu, Thailand, while his daughter looks on.

As he began picking the splinters from his calloused palm, he asked himself, “Why am I working at this stupid construction yard? I mean, what am I doing in life, and where will this get me?”

His foreman’s shouts brought him back to reality, so he sucked up the pain, grabbed the plank and started walking.

Inchai’s life was not uncommon for a young Thai man in 2000 – working in Singapore, separated from his wife and baby daughter for the chance to earn enough to support his family. He was working just to work and felt lost, alone and without a future.

Fast-forward seven years. Inchai again works, fierce sun beating down on his back, on the site of a local building project. This is not Singapore, though; it is Borabu. And this is a church he is helping to build – the first of its kind in the area.

Now dedicated to serving God and his church, he believes that God – not a Singapore job – will provide for his family and all of his needs.

Inchai and his wife, Jiep, are completing a ten-month internship with Living Water Church in Borabu, close to his home village of Kootmek. The church building should be completed in October, according to Mennonite Church Canada Witness worker Pat Houmphan. When finished, it will include a community centre – something not found in the Borabu area.

For the couple, service to the church and community are about gratitude toward a God who provides not only a living, but life.

Inchai first went to church in Singapore on the promise of learning to play the guitar. But he learned more than just chords, strumming patterns and riffs – he learned about the reality of sin and Jesus Christ. Each Sunday taught him more, and to rid himself of life’s heavy burdens, he eventually accepted Jesus into his life.

After more than three years working in Singapore – years where he worked tirelessly and missed the chance to watch his daughter grow up – Inchai returned to Kootmek in 2003. Although excited to reunite with his family once more, he was unsure what was about to happen to his faith. Kootmek had no other Christians and, like most villages in Thailand, Buddhism dominated.

Inchai was convinced that his relationship with Jesus was over. But God had different plans. Not long after his return home, he became deathly ill and cried out to God for healing. He promised that, if he was healed, he would dedicate his life to serving God.

Four days into his illness, he went in for medical treatment and was stunned by the doctor’s words. Inchai was diagnosed with leptospirosis, a disease transmitted by rat urine so deadly that those infected rarely live more than three or four days without treatment.

After he recovered, Inchai knew that he had a promise to keep. He sought out Houmphan and his wife, Rad, in nearby Borabu and shared his story and desire to serve God with them. The Houmphans and the church saw Inchai’s desire and in 2004 decided to send him and his family to Prayao Bible College, where they studied to become church leaders.

Inchai’s life is now full. The work that he does – whether preaching in the shade or building in the Thailand heat – now supports more than his family. It supports his community and his God.

Originally published in Canadian Mennonite, from a release by MC Canada, September 3, 2007.

 

 
 
 
 

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