Some days I hate being in Thailand, and some days I hate being in America.
I have been living in Thailand for over 11 years. I look like I belong on the outside, but there will always be a disconnect in my heart. When I am in America with my family, my heart also doesn't entirely feel at home. No matter where I am, there is tension in my soul because there is no place in the world where I truly belong.
Philippians 3:20 says, "But our citizenship is in Heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ."
As I heard Emily's story, I realized I wasn't the only one struggling with this sense of belonging. Emily is a young Thai professional working in Bangkok as a customer service representative for an insurance company.
Her story started as a five-year-old kindergartner. A book in her classroom intrigued her so much that she stole it and never returned it. She was fascinated by the stories in the book about a man. She remembers thinking, 'I like this man.' She didn't know it then, but it was a book about Jesus. Through this book, God introduced Himself to Emily; throughout her life, she read these stories repeatedly.
During her University years, she met a Christian through mutual friends. He was completing an exchange program in her small town. Emily questioned him about his faith and how he knew God was real. He patiently answered her questions, but she remained unconvinced. Beneath her questioning was a girl who did not honestly believe in the Buddhist religion she practiced and was searching for purpose in life and a place where she belonged.
Years passed, and she graduated from university. Emily worked at an insurance company in Bangkok. She was in one of the worst seasons of her life and was mentally in a very dark place. She was disconnected from family, had just ended a long-term relationship, and her job was taxing. Amid her struggles, she returned to that lingering question of her life's purpose, wondering where she belonged but could not find an answer.
While at work, Emily received an email regarding a client wanting to cancel his Covid travel insurance. Out of hundreds of cases and clients, God reconnected her to the one Christian friend she had met 7 years ago! Emily immediately recognized his name and responded professionally to his email. Within minutes of sending that email, she received a phone call from him. This case was the strangest coincidence to her, but in hindsight, she realized that God was reconnecting them for a greater purpose.
One night, as she felt the aftermath of her broken relationship, that friend invited her to a game night at the coffee shop where his church meets. She decided to go. While there, Emily met people who immediately showed her love and care. She walked away feeling at peace, returned to other gatherings, and eventually decided to attend church.
Before we were daughters to our parents, wives to our husbands, mothers to our children, or citizens of any country, we belonged to God! We are citizens of Heaven, not Earth, so let us live like citizens of Heaven, indeed eagerly awaiting Christ's return.
I met Emily at a different game night and another time around my dinner table. While talking about life, she said, "I met you guys in one of the darkest times in my life." Her words spoke volumes to my heart and brought tears to my eyes. God was drawing her to Himself. A few weeks following that dinner, Emily's search for her purpose was finally complete when she found the place where she belonged - with God. She surrendered her life to Jesus and made her home with Him. Emily's story is a beautiful reminder that God actively works around us and draws His children to Himself.
Similar to Emily, I am still not home yet. In all my searching, no matter where I am or who I'm with, I have yet to find the place where I entirely belong. As I wrestled with this idea, God led me to this truth in the Bible. Philippians 3:20 says, "But our citizenship is in Heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ." We feel this tension deep in our souls because we don't belong here on Earth. Before we were daughters to our parents, wives to our husbands, mothers to our children, or citizens of any country, we belonged to God! We are citizens of Heaven, not Earth, so let us live like citizens of Heaven, indeed eagerly awaiting Christ's return. Christ is undoubtedly returning, and so many people around us are still searching for their homes with God. As we live, may we look for every opportunity to help point people to Jesus! While I delight in knowing that my need to belong will be complete one day, I am overjoyed that Emily will be there with me.
Tang Thao (N. Xh. Vam Tub Lis Thoj)
Tang Thao serves alongside her husband and children as Envision Site Directors for Bangkok, Thailand. They have been living in Bangkok for over 11 years. They have three incredible children who love the Lord and love to share Him with others. Tang completed her Bachelor of Science in English Education and TESOL at Crown College. When she has downtime, she enjoys baking sweets, crafting with her kids, playing board games, and running.