‘Zeal for Your house will consume me.’ (JN 2:17)
Sue Hunt considered ordination as a Buddhist nun in the Ubon region of Thailand. An Englishwoman with a deep history of gender confusion, she sought relief in Buddhism from what seemed an incurable wound. She was ordained a Buddhist nun yet the idolatry implicit in both her spirituality and sexuality failed her; Sue’s search for truth remained. Sue turned to Jesus as she began to discover the entirely new Life He offered her–a track on which the very ‘living water’ of God could begin to transform the desert of her soul into a garden.
I began to partner with Sue in ministry in 1997; ever since she has plowed a straight furrow to release ‘living water’ wherever she goes. She has recently returned to Ubon to equip churches to release ‘living water’ for all who seek it. I write this from Thailand where I am partnering with her yet again to help clear God’s house from the dulling effect of idolatry and set that house ablaze with the burning love of Jesus.
The needs are legion: Thailand has always been a global forerunner of transgenderism, a land that gives unique place to ‘lady-boys’ who currently compose approximately 10-15% of the male population. These young men emulate the seductive arts of some Thai women who are groomed from an early age to prostitute themselves to wealthy foreigners. Children are often employed in this hideous exchange of flesh for funds. More typically, fornication and adultery flourishes amid adults who are inclined to sensualize their needs for love.
A toxic river runs through an otherwise beautiful, peaceful land and dehumanizes its citizens. Buddhism casts a ‘come what may’ fatalism—a lazy tolerance–over Thailand that perpetuates cycles of degradation. Nothing less than zeal for the One who came to clear out our ‘temples’ from the idols we make to man and mammon will do!
The Thai Church often responds with a thin, ineffectual resistance. She clothes herself in religious garments and manners but often fails to confess her own idolatry. The ‘saving face’ culture of honor in Asia makes it difficult for the Church in Thailand to address her own compromises. What we conceal God cannot heal. So we as a healing team exposed our own idols and the way that Jesus through His Church exchanged our rags for His riches.
Benjie shared powerfully how Jesus had filled in the gaps in his own gender identity formation; Hazel and Noelle exposed their idols and the stern, splendid task of learning to worship the One; as an ex-adulterer who had deeply wounded his wife, Mike wept as he described his wife’s devastation and the recovery of his marriage; Donna expressed shame over an affair with a married man but deeper gratitude for God’s forgiveness and healing; a Chinese brother praised God for granting him a holy birthright after growing up with a father and his prostitute; a Thai sister thanked Jesus for inviting her into deeper healing from childhood abuse.
All this healing through the Church! This is our gift to Thailand, the good news that Jesus’ Bride can represent Him well by reclaiming His human image from the many false images that drive and deride us. A mere appearance of religion won’t do; it will require nothing less than a people in whom Jesus cleared out idols and who now burn with gratitude for His faithful, furious love. Zeal for His house consumes us.