First person: God works greatly through my small acts of obedience

Dr. Doug Derbyshire | Nov 30, 2022

Dr. Doug Derbyshire (third from left) leads a Bible study at a coffee shop in Baan Pho.

I arrived in Thailand 30 years ago. I came with a vision to bring the good news of Jesus to people who had never heard of Him. I came with a longing to see God glorified in me.

Today, after 30 years of service on the mission field, those two great drives inspire me still to continue the great work that our Lord has called me to do. I am continually reminded that God is great and worthy of my efforts. The work that He has called me to do is great and worthy to be carried out with sustained, exuberant devotion. God is great. His work is great.

But I am also reminded, just as frequently, that I am not great. My abilities are limited, and my insights are regularly poor.

Blessedly, the Lord does not require me to be great. He does not require me to do great things to carry out His great works. All I must do is to be faithful in the small things that I can do, and then give Him praise as He carries out His great works through my small acts of obedience.

I have so wanted to see a church planted in Baan Pho, a city with tens of thousands of people and no Christian church of any kind. But Covid restrictions made it so that I could no longer work with students at the local school and could not visit people in their homes.

How do you start a church where there are no believers and where you can’t gather in groups? What could I do?

The idea came to me that eating in cafes was now allowed again. It wasn’t much, but if that was all I could do, that’s what I would do.

So, I invited area students to meet me at a local coffee shop. I would buy them a coffee and teach them the Bible.

Sky, a college freshman, was one of the students who came. One day, as we studied together, he read from Ephesians 3:17, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” I asked him if he was ready to have Christ dwell in his heart through faith.

I was shocked when he solemnly nodded and said “Yes!” Right there, he bowed his head and prayed a wonderful prayer of repentance and commitment. It was glorious!

Seeing us sitting together, one of the coffee shop employees then came over and asked what we were talking about. A few weeks later, she committed her life to Christ too! A month later, her niece put her faith in God! And now, just a few months later, she leads a group of women who gather with her to talk about God’s plan for salvation!

It has been so glorious to see the Lord bless our efforts.

We could do no great work there. All we could do was meet in a coffee shop. But when we did what we could do, we were privileged to see God do what only He can do.

Dr. Doug Derbyshire and his wife, Cheryl, are International Mission Board missionaries serving in Thailand.

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