Yui was pronounced dead at four, and God revived her. Then 21 years later, she met a missionary from Australia.

WHEN I LEFT AUSTRALIA for Thailand with my wife Suzanne, to become a missionary in this country of 70 million people, all I knew was that few had heard the gospel. The fact that I did not speak Thai, and the country was 95 percent Buddhist, didn’t daunt me.

The phrase that kept coming back to me was, “Unless we go, they won’t know.”

At first, there was little fruit. But as a handful of converts multiplied into a growing congregation, God showed his power to us in a dramatic way. In the space of 12 months, four of our converts revealed that God had been working in their lives years before the thought of Asia had even entered my mind.

The first inkling of something unusual taking place was the arrival one day of a young woman named Yui. The Lord saved Yui that day, and she went home to share the news with her parents.

In a Thai household, this would have been bad news, as converting to Christianity effectively would mean rejecting family and culture. But as Yui excitedly told of her conversion, her mother and father said nothing. In silence, they gave each other a knowing look.

Yui, then in her mid-20s, brought her parents to church.

We noticed a strange thing. There was no hostility from her family. We thought, “This is unusual—they don’t seem to be upset that their only daughter has just become a Christian.”

They didn’t endorse it. They just didn’t say anything. It was very odd. Then the mother got saved. A year later, the dad got saved.

Then he told me what had happened so many years ago. He got really quiet, and a bit matter-of-fact. He wasn’t trying to tell an embellished story or beat something up, he was just sharing what happened at a time many years previously when Yui had been sick. He probably didn’t even know what it would mean to us. Here’s what he told us:

“One night when Yui was about four years old, she got very sick. As the night wore on, she got weaker and weaker. I picked her up and carried her to a hospital a long way from our village. When my wife and I got there, Yui was  limp, and unresponsive. The doctor examined her and told us that we had arrived too late. Yui had not survived. She was dead already. I could not believe it. I asked the doctor if he was sure. He spelled it out for us—‘We can put her in the fridge here, or you can take her home to be burnt.’ [Buddhist cremation ceremony.]

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee.
(Jeremiah 1:5)

“We picked her up from the examination table and walked down the corridor to the hospital exit to start the long walk back home. Then we saw a large cross on the wall. We did not know what it meant, except that it represented something spiritual. We knelt, and prayed, ‘God, we have heard you are there, but we do not know you. If you are there, please, please heal our child.’

“We just sat down, holding our little girl. Twenty minutes later, Yui made a noise, spluttered, and opened her eyes.

“We carried her home, and I didn’t know what to do. I felt strange. Something happened inside me. I lost all desire to go to our local temple, even though our friends were there.”

This lovely man still attends church. He is just radiant. I don’t know what other word to use. Every time I see him on a Sunday he has a smile, a glow. He’s just so happy to be saved.

They call out to God, but need to hear from us

The incident with Yui and her family, and others, reminds me very much of the centurion Cornelius meeting Peter and getting saved after praying to God.


A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. (Acts 10:2-4)


Cornelius was calling out to God. It wasn’t yet salvation, but there was something there. But God still needed a man to go there and preach the gospel.

So what I see with this extremely encouraging experience for us—and for all missionaries, of course—is that sometimes, something has already happened in someone’s life years ago, that we don’t even know about. In this case, it showed me that God was going to get me to Thailand, to get them the gospel. This has happened now on several occasions, where we don’t know until after someone is saved, that something has already taken place.

It happened again recently with a girl who had leukemia. After she was saved, she told me she had been praying to “whoever is the Big One.”

We know everyone needs to hear the gospel. But there are people who are going to get saved only if they hear it. They are open to salvation. Knowing this makes me focus on my task, and helps me overlook the discomforts, the hardships, and the trials. I know there are desperate people waiting to hear about Christ and salvation. All we need to do is tell them.

God is not going to send an angel, he’s not going to write it in the sky—it has to come through people. And having these experiences also helps me understand that it’s not all hanging on me. I have my part, which is to preach the gospel, but God is at work. He is working in people’s lives, and he is using circumstances.

The strategy for a western missionary in foreign lands is still the same today as it always was. Good works are still good to do, but the gospel is the main thing.

If someone in Australia thinks one day, “There must be something more. I really want to find out about God,” they’ve probably driven past three churches that day. Now they won’t be all fundamental Independent Baptist, and they may hit a few wrong ones, but if they pursue it, they will find an avenue. There is stuff around you within reach.

But in many parts of the world, it’s not remotely possible to do that. There’s nothing. They’re not driving past Christian church buildings, they don’t have a Christian friend at work they can ask—none of that, they are totally ignorant. You were raised with the religion of your parents, who were raised with the religion of their parents. They know nothing of Christ. So when you share the gospel, sooner or later people get saved. It’s literally like a light goes on. You can see it happen.

What we can say for certain is that God has entrusted the propagation of the gospel to men. He has commissioned us. He has put his treasure in earthen vessels. He has commanded us to go, and we go with the power of God.

So our primary focus remains on preaching the gospel, and the furtherance of the gospel. In training nationals, we replicate ourselves, leading to the increase, and all based on the pattern of what Jesus did. He reached people, trained or taught them, and then sent them out to do the same.

Different people will have different unique emphases. Some will be particularly involved in training folk, and it all depends on a person’s particular gifts, but I think the essential duties have not changed. It’s to get the gospel out. Whatever else you do, Jesus said that unless a man is born again, he cannot—cannot—enter the kingdom of God.

My house is full, but my field is empty

The song, My House is Full ministers to my view about the need that is
oft-unseen in today’s abundant age.


There is peace and contentment in my Father’s house today,
Lots of food on his table and no one turned away.
There is singing and laughter as the hours pass by,
But a hush calms the singing as the Father sadly cries,

My house is full, but my field is empty,
Who will go and work for me today?
It seems my children want to stay around my table,
But no one wants to work my fields,
No one wants to work my fields.


This is so true. People don’t want to go anymore. Many are planning a life that will be second best to the one God can give them. If you are ignoring God’s call about what to do, then the life you think you are planning will not be your best. The work God wants you to do is your best. You can trust him. He has already gone before you.