Throughout my childhood, my parents instilled in our family the tradition of gathering around the dining room table for dinner each evening. While friends and extended family were always welcome to join us, unless circumstances prevented it or there was a special occasion, we made it a point to end our day together. Looking back, some of my most cherished memories and meaningful conversations unfolded during these shared meals. It was around that table where I first asked my parents about being baptized, where we planned our family vacations, where we exchanged the highlights and challenges of our day, and where we celebrated wins and prayers during times of difficulty. 

It’s no wonder that meal times have become such a cherished aspect of my life. I eagerly anticipate the moments when my family can gather together, surrounded by the comforting familiarity of our dining table. Amidst the banter and playful teasing, the inevitable competition over the last roll or biscuit, and the sharing of stories and memories, we once again find ourselves pausing amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life to simply be present with one another. 

For me, food has always been more than just sustenance; it’s about the company I share it with. Last November, I had the opportunity to travel to Thailand to visit our impact partner, Kritsana Udomsirat, and her ministry, Asian Women and Children. Our plane landed right about dinner time, and we loaded up into our different vehicles; when asked if anyone was hungry, I simply said, “I could eat.” While it started as a light-hearted remark reflecting my perpetual readiness for the next meal, it held truth. Indeed, I could eat. Yet, my enjoyment wasn’t solely about the food itself. While the cuisine was undeniably delicious—bursting with flavor, ranging from spicy to sweet to tangy—I never left a meal feeling anything less than satisfied. 

Sharing a meal in Thailand provided us with a unique opportunity to connect on a deeper level with Kritsana and her family. Kritsana’s son, Kit, shared with us stories of the early days of the ministry and its transformative impact on its students. These shared meals were not only personal and intentional but also afforded us the privilege of witnessing firsthand how God is at work in the lives of others. 

If you’ve ever embarked on an international mission trip, you understand the moments of discomfort that arise – not just physical discomfort, although that may occur, but rather emotional or mental discomfort. It’s the feeling of uncertainty about the right words, the appropriate response, or the next step to take. Past experiences have taught me to heed the whispers of my heart in those moments. I’ve discovered the value of quieting myself and tuning into the voices around me, recognizing that there’s always something God is trying to reveal. 

Towards the end of our time with Kritsana, we shared one of our trip’s most memorable yet simplest meals. It happened on a day when I felt particularly uneasy, unsure of how best to help or serve. It was a departure from our usual routine of engaging with children in the different villages. Accompanying Kritsana through a somewhat typical Monday in her life, we visited the local prison to pray, minister, and teach about Jesus. Kritsana’s dedication and heart have impacted not only those within the prison walls but also the guards, their families, and the wider community. Despite receiving the utmost respect, I was at a loss for what to do—a rare feeling for me in such situations. I watched as Kritsana sang, prayed, encouraged, and shared the love and truth of Jesus with these men. 

As we were heading to lunch, I asked Kritsana about the men in the prison. She shared fragments of their stories and spoke of families connected to them. As our food was being prepared, she asked a question that continues to resonate with me: “How can I see a prisoner’s status or future? Look at the Heart of God instead of the heart of the world.” Her words revealed her deep compassion for these men and all inside the prison. 

Our time with Kritsana profoundly impacted me. Her deep compassion for people and her unwavering faith were evident not only in her tireless efforts to establish churches, schools, and provide assistance in villages, but also in the lives of the individuals she touched. 

Since returning home, I’ve enjoyed gathering around the dining room table with friends and family, sharing meals, and recounting stories from our time in Thailand. I’ve had the gift and opportunity to talk about Kritsana and my time with her. I have shared highlights and challenges from my time there and the heart for Jesus behind our time there. Throughout these conversations, I’ve been able to ask myself and those with me, “Am I looking at this through the Heart of God or through the eyes of the world? Has my reasoning and approach been based in serving and sharing Jesus?”

Written by Karli Montgomery • Christ’s Church Cafe Manager

Kritsana Udomsrirat

Kritsana lives in the village of MaeHongSon and leads a ministry called Asian Women and Children. Her ministry provides God’s message, a home, and education for children who have little hope for a bright future. Many of these children come from the mountain village of MaeAw, where Kritsana started and oversees a Chinese school for over 100 refugee children up through the 6th grade. Kritsana continues to spread the Good News wherever God leads.

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