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Exchange of Cultures, Expression of Faith: Fellowship @ BIT

Since finding a church home in Bangkok, it has afforded me several enriching activities that have made my time in the city pleasurable. My fellow church members and I recently had the chance to visit our church’s ministry partner on a “field trip” to its campus. It was International Church of Bangkok (ICB) meet and greet Bangkok Institute of Theology (BIT) day. Having known about the event weeks in advance, I looked forward to an event where new friends were made, music and culture were expressed, and unity of spirituality was celebrated. And the fact that my friend from university wanted to join was the icing on the cake. Although many of us arrived at the BIT campus later than expected, it failed to spoil a sunny day of camaraderie, physical education and spiritual merrymaking.

The morning consisted of a quick rehearsal by the ICB chorale before entering the top floor venue where the musical performances occurred. Over 100 BIT students from all over Thailand were scheduled to perform hill tribe songs and dances for their guests. They dressed beautifully in their colorful and rattling attire with smiles on their faces as they sweetly and loudly belted out traditional gospel tunes. The two student toastmasters (man and woman) kept the event lively and interesting providing occasional English translation with Bible-based themes of the performances. Six different groups performed preceding ICB’s grand finale, which was a “mini-concert” of gospel favorites like “He’s got the Whole World,” “Kum Ba Ya,” and “Doxology.” We also sang the Thai version of “This is the Day” and “Seek ye First.”

Prior to the musical expressions, the assistant director of BIT gave a brief history of and an introduction to the place that trains and equips students for both domestic and international ministry. BIT students also receive English language instruction that will allow them to be more effective in their vocations. A number of them receive full-tuition scholarships, making their financial burdens lighter so they can focus on their studies. After the performances, some BIT faculty members in attendance were acknowledged. This well organized event demonstrated BIT’s reverence to the Creator and its respect for the guests. We felt the hospitality all throughout our time there.

A quick campus tour followed the morning festivities, which included the library, the classrooms, and the cafeteria where we dined for a delicious lunch. All that singing worked up an appetite! We had “kao-mok-gai,” which is saffron yellow rice-covered chicken, a Thai version of a traditional Indian dish known as biryani; soup and watermelon complemented the main entrée. BIT students quickly ate lunch so they could change into their athletic gear. Let the games begin! We had the option of leaving after lunch or staying to support the school’s annual sports day. While some folks from the ICB gang left, several of us remained to hang out with the students. That extra time allowed us to bond with them playfully, in a way that embraced sportsmanship.

I needed this socialization, bodily activity, and escape from the virtual world that dominates my life as a wordsmith/grad student. Badminton, ping pong, cheerleading, beach-style volleyball, soccer (football), Hacky Sack, and more inactive games like Thai chess and checkers were all available for participation or spectatorship. While I wasn’t dressed for the occasion, it didn’t deter me from playing volleyball, working up a sweat and exercising muscles that lay dormant for far too long. Had I not had evening class that night I would’ve stayed to play badminton and table tennis. In fact, a student asked us if we were staying for dinner. Wow! We had shared an affinity for fellowship.

But it won’t be the last time we see them. Now that we are connected (some of us on social media as well) to our BIT cohorts, we can plan more activities for bonding. I’ve had many frabjous days in Thailand and this happened to be the most recent one. Life is full of ups and downs, smiles and frowns, but there is something that we can always count on: the opportunity to find the good in each day we live to see. Mass media has a way of accentuating the negative aspects of life, but we know that this life is also full of positivity, people who are doing their best to make the world better. And so I celebrate the people who are committed to living their purpose, who are inspired by the higher calling in them to touch the lives of people in need of love, and whose spirits are alive to becoming the optimal form of them with each passing moment. Abundant gratitude for the treasures that are ICB and BIT.


COUNTRY


Profile photo of Charles McKinney

Travel is not just what I do but it is who I am. When I first traveled abroad in high school as a foreign exchange student, little did I know that it would serve as the threshold of a lifetime interest in globetrotting. Now nearly 10 years later, I have lived in four countries and plan to do much more traveling in years to come. The world of teaching English has given me incredible opportunity to engage in cultural anthropology and I certainly can't get enough of the language learning process as a polyglot in the making.My personal website is currently under construction but I also maintain a micro-blog on facebook that enables me to share my insights and experiences with my ever-growing following. All in all, I am most proud to be known as a global citizen, a reference I accept with humility and honor. Blogging is rad! Many thanks (muchas gracias, feichang ganxie, grazie un millon, fala menogu) to KFTW for allowing me this platform to connect with the world and vice versa. St. Augustine said it best: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page."



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