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ILL. Dennis said, "I don’t think I’ve ever experienced greater culture shock than what I experienced at the very first Thai village we visited. This was a village which the missionaries had not yet reached with the good news of Jesus. The people were still living with all their superstitions & fears.
"The missionaries tried to prepare us. They told us over & over again, `You need to understand, these people are very poor & very frightened of the evil powers they feel are all around them.’
"But there were no words to prepare us for what we were about to see. We expected to see poverty, but nothing like the deprivation & filth that we saw.
"We saw the most humble of dwellings made of bamboo & thatch, with none of the simplest sanitary conditions & certainly none of the modern conveniences that you & I take for granted every day.
"We saw people wearing filthy, tattered clothing, listlessly going about their tasks, with faces that were usually dirty because they had no reason to clean themselves up.
"We looked into the faces of children, with beautiful eyes & dark hair. And yet the children just stared vacantly into the distance. Yes, they were children, but already their lives had become a drudgery of work, & they had no hope of ever getting out of their present existence.
"Because, you see, the only hope that the Thai people think they have to get out of their poverty is education. But the government only provides education through the 4th grade. After that they have to pay, & the people have no money. So after the 4th grade they work in the fields or do whatever they can do, just to exist.
Dennis said, "I think that’s what hit me more than anything else. I kept wondering, ’What if I woke up tomorrow morning & found myself a member of this village? What if I should go out my front door & see those children standing there, & they’re my children? And I look into their dirty little faces & realize that we will live here all of our lives, & that their children will live all of their lives here, too.’
Dennis said, "After we came back to the missionaries’ house I felt so depressed & began to pour out my feelings. I felt like somehow I wanted to gather them all up & take them home, & wash their faces, & put good clothes on them, & give them good beds to sleep on, & good food to eat.
"But then I faced reality & said, ’There is no hope for these children. They can’t receive an education. There is no way they can get out of this awful life that they’re in. There is just no hope for them.’
"Then I heard a two-sentence missionary sermon. ‘There is hope,’ I was told. ‘Their hope is Jesus.’
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