The Clay Center is all about building relationships that allow for the spread of the Gospel and Biblical mentoring in young adults. There seems to be a new openness to Christianity among this current generation and eagerness to learn healthy habits in family life and marriage. The Fords and Comptons hope to use the Clay Center as a place to connect with University students through sports and English and then begin one on one mentoring. Relationships like that start slow and begin with learning trust. Many of our team activities were for the purpose of beginning to build trust in the name “Clay Center” and give the Fords and Comptons an open door to future ministry opportunities in a Buddhist culture.
We spent 3 days doing just that in public schools. Each day, we drove down a driveway under the dead of eyes of a Buddha who had fresh offerings of flowers and fruit laid out before him. We unloaded trucks full of soccer balls, footballs, sports pinnies with the Clay Center logo printed on them, candy, English lessons, dental gear…..and teens who love Jesus. Dave introduced us as a bunch of Americans who traveled from the other side of the world to help them with skills because we love them. We spread out with our gear, our smiles and the Holy Spirit’s power to break down walls and smooth the way for the Gospel.
We divided our team into teams that rotated each of our three days. Everyone got a chance to participate in our sports clinics and English classes. Our dental team needed less hands so we polled the team about their future career plans and used students on that team that hoped to work in the health field some day.
Tim & Laura led our soccer skills training. They rotated their kids through stations led by our students. The language barrier seems to lose its power when a ball in involved. The school staffs all expressed excitement about the soccer skill training. They told Dave that they often have people come donate balls to the school, but never have people stay to work with the kids and help them learn. The kids love soccer and were eager to learn things to make them better players. Our teens have had the privilege of having coaching and team opportunities in the States that they were able to directly hand down to their Thai counterparts.
We also had an American Football team working each day under the hot sun. Tim & Brenda Steenland brought their coaching skills to head up this team. Great cheers went up from the school kids when it was announced that they would be learning football….a purely American sport. It didn’t take long for training in the basics to give way to two hand touch games complete with growling defenses and touchdown dances. There were many times that a game was stalled until the giggling girls could pull it together enough to pick themselves up off the ground after one of Josh Ford’s touchdown dances.
Our American students were divided into teams of 3 to teach basic and advanced English lessons to classes full of Thai students. The students were elementary all the way up to high schoolers. Our teaching teams were led by Aubrey Gillette and Tacie Anderson and taught lessons about numbers, colors, vocabulary, conversation skills and greetings. The part that got the most fun and laughter out of the Thai students was when our team taught them to use American slang. We practiced “Peace Out!” “See you later alligator!” “See ya” “Catch ya later!” and gave a lot of fist bumps and high fives. I think our American team was the most nervous about participating in the English teaching…but quickly found that they were well prepared and had eager students. They really did a great job and hopefully feel confident in their ability to use their English speaking skill as a gift to the Gospel anywhere in the world God may take them.
Our dental team saw much fewer kids than the other stations because of the individualized care they received. The school staff brought to us the children who had the greatest dental needs and Dr. Dame addressed the pain of as many of them as he could during our day. We had 4 students each day working with him. One student became his chair side assistant, one learned to fill syringes and manage the other tools, and two sterilized and re-bagged tools. Most children who sat in Dr. Dame’s chair had mouths full of cavities and infections. They walked away having felt the love of Jesus through tender care. They also walked away much healthier and with a new toothbrush and toothpaste!
By the end of each day, the road had been paved for future ministry for the Clay Center’s team. All the Buddhist headmasters thanked Dave profusely and offered open ended invitations for him to bring teams in the future. Other local headmasters heard about what was happening and came to check it out and ask for a team to be brought to their school. One of these is a Christian man who leads a public school. He requested a team with the added invitation to have complete freedom in his school to preach the whole gospel to his Buddhist students. The dead eyes of a Buddha statue can't hills a candle to the fire in the eyes of a bunch of Jesus loving teens! How amazing to be able use things as simple as soccer balls and footballs, English and dentistry to be a light in the middle of a dark world.