Jai* grew up in Southeast Asia in a strict Buddhist family where his grandmother would not tolerate any other religion. In accordance with her wishes, he participated in religious rituals, such as attending the temple at every full moon, offering food sacrifices, and performing ceremonies for the dead. In a country where Christianity is little accepted, he’d never even heard of God! However, that would soon change.
Graduating from high school in 2014, Jai intended to study elementary education at a university, but needed to work to earn the tuition first. There was one problem—his work required him to learn English. Jai soon found a language school, little knowing that his teachers were Adventists.
For the first time ever, he developed friendships with Christians and began attending a group that met every Friday evening to fellowship and share Bible stories. Through these new friends, Jai discovered a personal God who understood every aspect of his life. As he made the decision to follow Jesus, Jai’s life purpose was transformed. He now wanted to share God’s love with children just as his English teachers had with him!
“Recently, my teacher Sarah helped start Oon Jai, a non-profit organization. She asked me to help at their farm where they have an English program. That experience showed me that I really enjoy working with children.”
With his new life came challenges. His grandmother strongly disapproved of his conversion to Christianity, thus straining his relationship with her. He also struggled to keep the Sabbath at university as Saturday classes were often imposed. He prayed earnestly that God would provide a way for him to study and worship God in freedom. That’s when he learned about Hartland through one of his Adventist friends and applied for the Missionary Training Fund scholarship.
Now a second-year Christian Elementary Education major at Hartland, Jai is excited to finish his training and return to serve in Southeast Asia. In preparation for his future ministry, he has soaked in Hartland’s spiritual atmosphere and has taken advantage of opportunities for children’s ministry, such as Piedmont Bible Camp and other outreach programs.
“Each day, God is teaching me how to depend on Him and love Him more,” shares Jai. Just as Christian teachers impacted his life, he plans to teach Asians who’ve never heard of the love of Jesus.