Why It Was Easier to Follow Jesus In Thailand

Easier than where? Here, in America where most people claim to be Christian. Thailand is over 95% Buddhist and only about 1-2% Christian. Easier might not be the best term, but…


The first few months we lived in Thailand, we stayed in friends homes who were from America. They had cable TV, so I tried to keep up with what was happening in the West, with my beloved Spurs, and the TV show LOST.

I wanted to hang on to my western culture.

The last three plus months we lived there, we stayed in a home that had no internet connection nor cable. I spent most of my time with local believers and missionaries from other parts of the world. Neither were all that interested in what was going on in my homeland.

In fact, most of these friends were serious about following Jesus. The missionaries had given up their own culture falling in love with the Thai people. They strongly believed that God had sent them to Thailand to share the love of Jesus Christ with them.

The Thai believers believed so strongly that Jesus is truly the Son of God that they denounced their heritage. Some of their families even disowned them because of their decision to follow Jesus.

In this context, I noticed that the subtle trappings of my heritage began to fall away. I went weeks without knowing what was going on in American sports. We didn’t watch American TV. If we watched any TV it was all in Thai.

We spent our time in community with our friends, sharing hope with bar girls, passing out Bibles to Chinese tourists, loving on children living in children shelters, visiting people in jail.

This became our priority. This became my first love, my hunger, my thirst. I longed to walk with Jesus; to follow Him at any cost.

Then we moved back to the U.S.

We experienced reverse-culture shock. My wife and I promised each other that we would continue to live as we did in Thailand. Because if we could follow Jesus there, surely we could do the same here where we knew the language, the food was familiar, our family and friends were close by.

I am sad to report that nearly seven years after moving back home we both see the drift back into what many would call cultural or casual Christianity. 

Why is harder to follow Christ here in my country? 

Here are few things that I notice about myself and my fellow American believers:

We want comfort and security, not sacrifice.

Please God, don’t ask me to quit my job, sell my home and move. Not into a part of town where no one hardly follows you and surely not to a foreign country.

Don’t ask me to give my money and time to further your cause. Don’t nudge me to care for the fatherless or the poor. All that is not comfortable for me.

Instead, I want to accumulate more nice things, go on some great vacations, spend my days my way, and have lots of money in the bank and investments so I won’t have to worry about the future.

The pop culture appeals to us more than Jesus.

Simple question—do you spend more time keeping up with sports celebrities, reality TV, and the music scene than you do with your so-called Master? Who has your attention?

Iron is not sharpening iron.

Accountability groups or partners are a big thing in a lot of churches around here. I think it is a good thing. I am in more than one relationship like this. But if all we do is drink coffee, talk about our families, March Madness or Fantasy Football, maybe a personal struggle or two, is that really motivating each other to follow Jesus? Or is it simply helping each other live a good life.

We must not understand what it means to follow.

A huge disconnect exists between what we think commitment is and how we live our lives. Most American Christians don’t give Jesus a thought on most days. Scary thing is that statistics show that many who profess to be Christians marginally believe that Jesus Christ is who He says He is.

In Matthew 4 when Jesus calls some of His disciples, they quit what they were doing and immediately followed Jesus. Not to say that we all should quit our jobs and leave our family in order to follow Him. But I guarantee you that it means more than a casual nod once or twice a month watching someone sing a song or preach a sermon.

Bottom line is that for most of us ‘Christians’, our lives look no different than someone who claims to not be a Christian.

What do you think a follower of Jesus Christ look like?

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I am a longtime Austinite. Married my beautiful wife over 25 years ago. Adopted our son September 2012. Currently a writer and loving it. Previous jobs and careers include project management, missionary, and pastor. I enjoy sports (both watching and playing), traveling, reading, digging in dirt and hanging with my friends and family.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “Why It Was Easier to Follow Jesus In Thailand

  1. I think it is very simple, Live your life for Jesus. Be a disciple for his teaching and share with the non believer along with the believer. You will always find the answer to your questions in the bible. Jesus didn’t say this would be easy for anyone. Open up all your senses and do it! You don’t know who’s life god will touch through your love for him.

    I think the two words hardest for most people including myself are fear and vulnerability . Those two words are why it is harder for the western culture.