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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » John Bradshaw » John Bradshaw - Conversation with Gayle Haberkam

John Bradshaw - Conversation with Gayle Haberkam

John Bradshaw - Conversation with Gayle Haberkam
TOPICS: Conversations, Mission

John Bradshaw: Gayle, thanks so much for being here. I really appreciate you taking your time.

Gayle Haberkam: Thank you for having me.

John Bradshaw: So you're a missionary in Thailand in the jungle?

Gayle Haberkam: Right.

John Bradshaw: Okay, when we say in the jungles in Thailand, like, where are we, exactly?

Gayle Haberkam: Well, basically I can explain it that it's away from civilization. And it's all through the mountains where there are no shops, or electricity or internet or phone service, things like that.

John Bradshaw: So you're a missionary in the Stone Age?

Gayle Haberkam: It seems like that.

John Bradshaw: Certainly a little less modern than what ya used to today.

Gayle Haberkam: Exactly.

John Bradshaw: I can't wait for you to tell me about a day in the life of a missionary in Thailand, in the jungles of Thailand, but let's reverse first. We'll talk about how you got there. But before that, who are you? Where are you from? Where were you raised? Tell me a bit about Gayle.

Gayle Haberkam: I was born in the Northeast, and my father was a minister.

John Bradshaw: Okay.

Gayle Haberkam: And we moved every two or three years.

John Bradshaw: Sure.

Gayle Haberkam: And my mother was like Jesus; she was wonderful.

John Bradshaw: What an amazing thing to be able to say about your mother!

Gayle Haberkam: She was. From a little girl, I just felt like my mother was Jesus.

John Bradshaw: Oh, that's fan...okay, stop now, tell me about your mom. What was so special about her?

Gayle Haberkam: Well, my mother's from London, England. And she was a war bride met my father during World War II in England and came to America and didn't know about Adventists. But she started, she's a great secretary, and she started working for the conference president of Seventh-day Adventists.

John Bradshaw: Oh wow.

Gayle Haberkam: And my father started taking theology, become a minister. And so she was a secretary, and then the things that she heard about our faith made sense to her. And intellectually she accepted everything. Later she found Jesus for her personal Savior. I think especially when my sister and I were born, because she read "Child Guidance" through seven times as she was raising us. And, you know, you can't obey "Child Guidance" without the miraculous power of God. And so, we never had a fight, my sister and I, we never argued, and I never saw my mother angry. And she taught us to memorize the Bible. And we had all of Daniel and Revelation memorized. Could say any verse, I can't now, but it has helped me through my whole life to understand those important books of the Bible.

John Bradshaw: So is your mom, I mean, she's from England, so was she especially British?

Gayle Haberkam: Yes.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, she was quite British?

Gayle Haberkam: Very British, her parents came, and her sister came as well.

John Bradshaw: Oh yeah?

Gayle Haberkam: So they all had a real British accent, and I probably spoke half and half.

John Bradshaw: Oh, well done. Yeah, see, I'm bilingual. I can go both ways here.

Gayle Haberkam: Not anymore, but...

John Bradshaw: Yeah. Hey, so what a special thing to be able to say about your mother! I've got to imagine that your mother being such an amazing person, like Jesus, whether consciously or otherwise, she must have had an enormous influence on the decisions you made later on in life.

Gayle Haberkam: Yeah, I can say that she is the foundation of anything good that I might do in my life. In fact, that last chapter of "Child Guidance" says that when we are at last in the kingdom of heaven with Jesus, that many of us will lay our crowns at Jesus' feet and say, "Because of her, I'm here". I will definitely do that; because of God and her is the reason I can do any kind of good thing for God, especially mission work because she read us all the mission stories, all the mission books we read.

John Bradshaw: Oh, look at that.

Gayle Haberkam: And so it was ingrained in us at the age of three. My sister and I, we wanted to be missionary nurses.

John Bradshaw: Oh, look at that.

Gayle Haberkam: And my dad's shirts were white. Back then they starched white shirts. That's all they wore. And so when he threw them away, we would cut the starched cuff off, and it made a perfect nurse's cap. And we'd wear the white shirt, and our dolls would be patients.

John Bradshaw: What a fantastic start to life. Somewhere along the line you made faith in Jesus your very own. Now, was there a conscious point where you said, "Okay, I'm all in with Jesus now"? Or was that always the pathway your life was going?

Gayle Haberkam: That's a good question, because by the time I was 8 years old, we were in the habit of going to the... we rented a farmhouse on 250 acres. And so my sister would go one way in the morning; I'd go another way and sit in the woods on a stump and have our worship and pray and read and come back singing. And I think when I was 8 years old, I said to my mother, I said, "I think I should die now". And I don't know what went through Mother, but I'm sure, and she asked, "Why"? And I said, "Because I'm close to Jesus now, but I see other people doing wicked things and growing up and doing bad things. And I don't want to do that. So I think I should die now". But God didn't see fit to let me die then. And though I've not done always everything that pleased Him, God had plans for me, so...

John Bradshaw: Yeah, and you were aware of that from a very early age? So we mentioned earlier you were a nurse; you became a nurse at some stage. Was nursing what you were always gonna do? You said yes, but...

Gayle Haberkam: Missionary nurse, yeah.

John Bradshaw: And that was it?

Gayle Haberkam: That was it. I just went to register at Southern College for nursing. Mother thought I would take the two years because sitting still and studying is not really my thing.

John Bradshaw: Okay.

Gayle Haberkam: And so I thought four years is a long time, but I registered for the four year, and I did the four years.

John Bradshaw: You did the four years, yeah.

Gayle Haberkam: Yeah, I wanted to be a doctor too, but, you know, that's eight years of study, and...

John Bradshaw: That's a long time. Yeah, some people are called to be doctors; some are called to be nurses.

Gayle Haberkam: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: And that's okay. So, what happened next in life? I mean, many people go to college and get married or go to college and go wild. They go to college and...whatever; it could be a... did you ever do a year overseas in missions, like a student mission thing?

Gayle Haberkam: Yes. In my junior year, after my junior year well, we went in Orlando, and we went through all the practical nursing. After that, I took three months and went to South America.

John Bradshaw: Oh, you did?

Gayle Haberkam: And I was in a little village. And so there I got to deliver babies, like, many, and suture and run a clinic. And it's a primitive language, they spoke Mesquite Indian.

John Bradshaw: Oh yeah? So you were a student nurse delivering babies and suturing people and the whole thing.

Gayle Haberkam: An excellent experience for me.

John Bradshaw: Oh wow, I would think.

Gayle Haberkam: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Gayle Haberkam: Trying to run a clinic with hardly anything in there, but doing my best to help the people get well. No, that was good.

John Bradshaw: Okay, so this is the background. You had a strong faith in Jesus. You had a wonderful Christian mother, who was a great example. You were always gonna be a nurse, until you went and became a nurse. Press the fast forward button as slowly as you want to or as fast as you want to. Suddenly you're in a missionary nurse in the jungle, without a telephone. Tell me how that happened.

Gayle Haberkam: Okay, well, I did, like you said, I got married. I had two boys, had a pretty happy family, moved from Tennessee to Montana to homeschool my boys.

John Bradshaw: Oh, lovely.

Gayle Haberkam: But on December 25th, 2008, which is Christmas day, 2008, my husband told me he was leaving me. And so...

John Bradshaw: Oh, merry Christmas.

Gayle Haberkam: ...I had no idea that that was on his mind. Things weren't nice, but I just thought he'll get over it. Well, anyway, it's so amazing how in one sentence and five seconds, your whole world can just drop and be just in a million pieces on the ground.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Gayle Haberkam: So in my crisis hour, you know, you reach out for human support. And so a pastor, a retired pastor, helped, came to talk to me and help me and him and keep us together and make it work. And he's talking about forgive, forgive, forgive. And I have no problem forgiving. My problem was he's taken a broad road. And then my children, they need a father that...

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Gayle Haberkam: At that time they're 13 and 15. And so I'm working with this pastor and forgiving and forgiving, but it's not working. And I'm dying just a little more every single day. So by the time four months went by, I'm in the back pasture. We're on the farm in Montana, beautiful. But I'm at the hay bales, and I'm gonna walk toward the house. And I heard God's voice in my mind, loud voice. And it said, "Ephraim is chained to his idols. Leave him alone".

John Bradshaw: "Leave him alone".

And suddenly I'm now traumatized again, because now I'm doing the wrong thing all this time. I need to turn 180 degrees, and this man is, I need to leave him alone. This was God's voice.

You've used two words I wanna pick up on here: "crisis" and "traumatized". So you're in a marriage that wasn't perfect, by your own admission, you know, whatever the details. And your husband says, "I'm out".


Without wanting to rip the scab off an old wound.

Do it.

Walk me through that. What's that like? How do you process that? How do you deal with that? What does it do to you emotionally, physically, even, to have your world crumble?

Oh yeah, it totally destroys you. Nothing is the same; everything has changed. Your whole future of your dreams and your hopes to, you know, "till death do you part" is all broken. And I found out it's not just one bad thing that he's doing, but he's been messing up for two years.


Gayle Haberkam: But I didn't know it.

John Bradshaw: So you'd been...

Gayle Haberkam: I'm totally...

John Bradshaw:'d been living this lie for two years.

Gayle Haberkam: Yes.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.


John Bradshaw: Not intentionally, but you'd been party to a lie for two years that...

Right. Right.

So it wasn't a new thing? It was an old thing, and it was, how do you recover?

Well, four months, okay? And then when I heard God's voice telling me "Ephraim is joined to his idols; leave him alone," I stayed up all night at the kitchen table that night, crying out to God and asking him, "What am I supposed to do? I'm all confused; I don't know anything". And so I'm crying there at night, and I start to write a poem. And I'm not a poet, and I don't know how to write. I've tried before, you know, and you cross out, and the rhyme is wrong, and the rhythm is wrong.


But that time, I wrote this poem, and it came out just, it's not me writing it.


And it's called "Take Control, O Dear Jesus, Take Control". And that night, God came to me; God wrote that poem. And from that moment on, God took control of my life. And I even used it for my email address: [email protected]


And it's the motto of my life for God to take control. And I think that if I were more in tune with God, maybe I would've been spared those four months of agony, because obviously that was not God's plan for me at that time, but now that I've heard God's voice, I know. So it wasn't but three days later I get a call from my friend. And I had been to a faith camp by Jesus4Asia that year, 2008. Of course, we're now into 2009. But anyway, July of 2008 was my, I went to my first faith camp with them. And so I had gotten a passport. I was gonna take a vision trip to Europe, and we had our passports. And so my friend called me and said, "We need you and the boys to go to Thailand and relieve some missionaries that run a school on the border for three months while they take a vacation to America. And so you'd be perfect," she said, "because you're a nurse and you all have your passports".


And so in my heart, I'm saying, not out loud, but in my heart, I'm saying, "Well, definitely not. This is the very worst time in my life. I am a destitute woman. I am skinny as a rail. I'm all confused, and there's no way God wants me to do that in Thailand right now". And so, but I said to her, "I'll pray about it, and I'll find out what God wants me to do".

You've gotta be careful when you say that, "I'll pray about it"...

"I'll pray about it".

...because then you give God an opportunity...

I have to.

Didn't He come to me?

...let you know what He wants you to do.


Yeah, I made that mistake once. I say that facetiously. "We're not gonna do it. We're not, no, not gonna do. Let's pray and ask God what He wants".


And who knew?

Many times I think I know what God wants or doesn't want me to do. And many times it's the opposite, and this is one.

So you went to Thailand temporarily?

Is that what happened?

Well, what happened is I said I'd pray about it, right?


And I'm in the country, in Montana, and I live, every side of the block is one mile. So I'm used to running that four miles around our house. And so this time I ran two miles, and I prayed. And then I ran two miles, and I listened. And I didn't hear anything. But when I got to the door of the house, I opened it, and I heard, "Ask God for the money if He wants you to go". So I thought, "Well, good, because I don't have any money". And so I asked God for the money if He wants me to go. And the next day I'm driving my car, and my friend calls me, and she says, "Well, you'll never guess what, but we have the money"...


..".for you and the boys to go to Thailand with your visas and a box of medical supplies". And my mouth dropped open, and I stopped my car. And I said, "That was You, Lord".

That was Him.

That was.

Yeah. Well... with clear answers to prayer like that and clear Providence, you had no option but to go.


Yeah. So you went, and your boys too.


And they were, you said, early teens...


...something like that.

13 and 15.

Okay, okay. So you arrive in, what do you expect? 'Cause I wanna ask you what you expected, and then I want to ask you what you found. What did you expect? Did you have some vision in your head of what this might be like? Did you have this all worked out? Maybe you'd seen photographs, so you didn't have to imagine.

No, I didn't know much. I didn't know much. I did know that there was war in Burma, right at the border where that school was run, and that they had just had to evacuate the school on the Burma side because the Burmese soldiers had just come to overtake it and burn it down. And they had to escape across the river and go to a place on top of the mountain...

Oh! Hold on, hold on.

...instead of...

This is the place that you were going to?


And so you are finding this out, and you're saying, "Oh sure, I'll go there," where they just burned the place down and the soldiers tore the whole place up?

Right, I found that out before I went, yeah.

And you still went?

Yeah. Oh yes. And then I thought it was gonna be...

Where does faith, where do faith and insanity intersect?


Have you figured that out?

I figured out that God doesn't call us to insanity, but God calls us to a real work for Him. And it may be surprising, it may be dangerous, and you may die, but you are in the center of God's will, doing His work, and it's the best thing you can do.

So you knew you were going to this madhouse?

And didn't I know for sure it's God's will?

But you did see?


So you went; you'd heard some of the reports. What was the reality like? What did you find when you got there?

Really, I thought it would be way more primitive than it was.


But it was right by a concrete road...

Oh yes. a highway. And then there's a strip of land, then there's a river, and then there's Burma. And so there's a lot of war going on right there. And there's landmines going off and guns being shot...

While you're there?

Yeah, while I'm there. And so I learned the ropes a little bit. And now, they had, the students had been put on a mountain, and my job was to buy some property and bring them back down. It's a big story right there at that school, those three months. But I was surprised at how close it was to Burma and yet civilized.

So this is more than a dozen years ago. You went for three months. It's a long three months.

I got in love with the Karen people, and the students at that school, they are telling their stories. They have fled from their village four or five times...


...from the Burmese. They've seen their villages burned, many of them seen their parents tortured and killed in front of their eyes. And I fell in love with the Karen people and decided I would dedicate my life to help them.

So while you were there, you just said, "That's it; I'm in; I'm staying"?

I'm staying.

Well, you came home and then went back?

I didn't actually come back home for a long time. I didn't return after my three months were up; I stayed.

For how long?

Ten months at the school. And then at 10 months there was a lot of missionaries there, a lot of white people. And I said to God, "I think You want me to go where there's nobody. And so where would You want me to go"? And then He showed me.

He showed you. Okay. Well, this is where we leave it right now. When we come back. you can tell us what God showed you. So, Gayle Haberkam is in Montana; things fall apart. God tells you to go to Thailand. You go into what's essentially a war zone...


...where people are being traumatized every day, and you fall in love with it, and you say, "This is where I belong".


An amazing story, we will hear more in just a moment. With Gayle Haberkam, I'm John Bradshaw. This is our conversation, brought to you by It Is Written.

John Bradshaw: Welcome back to "Conversations," brought to you by It Is Written. My guest is Gayle Haberkam, and she is a missionary currently in the jungles of Thailand. Gayle, a moment ago, you decided to stay; you went for three months. It was a short-term thing to begin with, to relieve somebody; you stayed. Then you said, "Lord, I don't think this is the place. I think You want me to go somewhere else".


So the God who has been very clearly leading you so far, obviously led you...


How did He do that?

Okay, so when I prayed the prayer, "Where would You have me to go? I don't care where I go," but something happened that somebody took me to BeYoTa, the village where I am now, but it was a long ways up and over several mountains on the bad roads. It was so bad that I'm on the back of a motorbike, and my chin is hitting the guy's shoulder, so that, I'm sure I bruised it, 'cause I bruised my chin, and terrible roads, but finally we get there. And, you know, I can live in any village, but came back praying about it, and three things happened that made me know what God wants me to do. One is that BletJhaw, the young man that was the principal of that school at the time, felt God was calling him to come and work with us.


And so, that would be a key to the people. And number two, somebody donated enough money to buy a truck, and we needed a four-wheel drive truck. And the third thing that happened was the pastor from the north knew that area, came and showed me a few other villages around, and told me that the people around don't know God, and many people never heard the name of Jesus.

Oh wow!

And so I want to go. I go.

That was exciting to you?

Oh yeah, yeah.

Yeah. Okay. So what were you going to do, to actually do? What was your mandate? You're gonna go to this village and...?

Well, see, I'm just a nurse, and I'm an emergency room nurse, so I want to help the sick. And at the school I had been really involved in helping the sick and treating everybody that came and doing many things. So when I got out there, suddenly not that much to do. And I don't own anything. And I only had a little box of medical supplies and no money. And I've got this bamboo house to live in that they built me, but everybody that came to me, I had something I could give them. Whether it was a little medicine or my coat for the cold weather or soap, or clothing and our food or something, I would have to give. And as you give for Jesus to others, God gives more to you. And so God kept giving me more. Like, I gave my last coat to a little old lady.

I'm thinking about that. It was cold, so you gave it to...

I give it.

...somebody so they could be warm, but you would be cold.

Yeah, and then it wasn't but seven days, and my sister had sent me a down jacket, thinking I might be cold, so God provided.

She'd already sent it?

Already sent it.

It was on the way.

I got it in a week after I gave that coat.

But that was seven cold days.

Well, I was okay.


Hey, that's fantastic. So you're giving away your food and coat and toiletries and so forth, and God is just providing for you.


And this is providing you with reassurance: The Lord is with me in this.

Oh yeah.

Yeah. So the people that you're ministering to, who are they?

Well, these are Karen people. And like I told you, there's so much war against the Karen, and they're in the refugee camps, but they flee, also run through to the mountains through the last 70 years. So they can own a citizenship Thai card because they're born in Thailand. And so all through the jungle mountains you can see there's little villages scattered all through the mountains.

Describe the Karen to me. What are they like as a people?

They are very kind and peaceable people, very generous. They have nothing, but they give us everything. They will give us all the rice they grow in their rice gardens. And we never have to buy rice. If they haven't grown anything in the garden to give me, they will pick some kind of herb or root from the the jungle and give me, 'cause I have a free clinic. And I think they see the love of Jesus because, like we said, at the hospitals, the nurses and doctors are kind of rude and look down upon them because they're dirty and they're dressed different than the Thai people. And so they see a lot of love through us, and we pray with our patients, and so they appreciate it.

Someone's listening saying, "Ah, the Karen! I remember the great storyteller Eric B. Hare. He was a missionary to the Karen". So, the same people?

Same people.

Yeah? Did, I'm sure you've read the Eric B. Hare stories.


Anything you recognize?

Oh yes. In fact, Eric B. Hare is my hero of a missionary. If I could just pattern just a little bit after him, I would be so happy, but, yeah, the people actually have some of the same ways about them as they did in his books.


Like, when I first went, they didn't really see a white person before, and one man asked me, he said, "Is it true that the white people eat the Karen babies"? And Eric B. Hare had said that in his book too.


So, and they...

The people genuinely thought that white people would eat Karen babies?

Yes, the older people, some of the older people still thought that.

Oh. What did you tell him?

"No, it's not true".

Well, good. I'm glad we got that straight.

And then they also, you know, they worship the devil. And they have all kinds of superstitions and sacrifices.

Too much, too much, too much too quickly. They worship the devil, we're gonna touch on that and sacrifices. It's easy to say they worship the devil, but we don't know what that means. What does it mean? Or it means different things in different places. What does it mean where you are? They worship the devil, what does that look like?

Okay, because they don't know who God is. And so they figured out that the devil is powerful and actually he does things.


And so through the years, they worship ghosts, and they worship sometimes Buddha a little bit, but a lot of devil because they've sacrificed to try to get this evil, to please the evil spirits because they think that if the evil spirit leaves them, they'll get sick.


And if he goes too far away, they die. So if somebody's sick, they sometimes go through this chant in this whole ceremony to call the spirits back.

Okay, so chanting in ceremonies and so forth. Idols? Do they have idols or fetishes or anything like that?

They do, and in their houses, kind of the Buddhist stand, the devil, I can't decipher which, but they have a shelf in every one of these little crude huts, or a corner at least, dedicated to their worship. And so they have trinkets, and they'll sometimes have snakeskins over the door or some kind of things that is for good luck. And they tie strings around their wrists and ankles, and the babies have them around their neck, wrists, abdomen, their waist, and ankles, and that's supposed to keep them well and safe.

Sacrifices, what do they sacrifice?

Well, if they come out of the jungle and they have a rash or something, they get sick. They feel like they've gotta get an animal, a chicken or a pig or a cow, and go and kill it and sacrifice it there.


And also people like witch doctors. There are sorcerers. They claim an awful lot of animals from these people in order to, you know, help them. But more than helping them, they put curses on people. And they will, just by touching. One man, he did this on the liver to one man, the sorcerer, and he got a terrible, terrible liver condition, and in three weeks he was dead.

So where you are, you are in the midst of some real, raw paganism and spiritualism.

Yes. Mm-hmm.

Fascinating place to be. Describe the geography; you're in the jungle. What is it? What's the jungle?

Well, it's very mountainous...

Oh yeah.

...and hilly, and nothing is really on the flat. There's a few terraced rice gardens that occupy a flat space. But mostly it's mountain rise. And everywhere we go, we're either, we're always traveling on bad roads, and you're going straight up or straight down, and the camber of the road is always tilted toward the cliff and...

The children watching, and me, want to know what animals you see.

Well, we see, okay, most animals are killed and eaten, even dogs...

Oh really?

...and rats. But the wild animals mainly would be elephants.

They don't kill elephants?

There's wild elephants. No, because an elephant is worth more than a brand new pickup truck here. So several families go together to buy an elephant, a female elephant, train it. And it's very helpful to pull the heavy logs to build the houses, or to the trucks get in trouble.

Do you see elephants?


In the jungle?


With some frequency?

Well, at first, we just saw the tame ones, and there'd be somebody sitting on them, driving them. But then we found out wild elephants come and join them. And they're very dangerous. You can go around a blind curve and meet a big wild elephant face-to-face. And several times we have many people do that, and then they have to flee on foot because that elephant's ears come out, and he can charge, and he's killed people, just recently killed, two people on a motorbike, and they both run, and one gets killed, and the other one gets away. So, we meet these elephants because when we need to take a patient to the hospital, or we have to go, we have to go. So, but, you know, the angel that closes the lion's mouth for Daniel puts the tranquilizer on these beasts. And we got charged one time, and only one time I had to run on foot from a wild elephant.

I don't ask this question to arouse fear and whatnot, but I think it's...right to ask you if you've ever been in personal danger. I don't mean from a charging elephant. Have you ever felt like your life has been jeopardized or you've been in actual danger? Because you are really on the front lines. This isn't child's play.


And I say this with the utmost respect, okay?


I say this with the utmost respect. There are missionaries, and they teach in a university. They're missionaries, God bless them. But this is different to that. This is mission work where you're on the front line. And there are people with guns, and elephants with tusks and people with disease, and you're immersed in it. Have you ever been, or felt like you've been, in jeopardy yourself?

Yeah, actually nine times I should have died. But it started on that porch of that mission house by the river when the Burmese soldiers come over. I was preparing to talk to the parents the next morning. And I was sleeping on the porch, 'cause I wasn't used to the heat yet. And I had a mosquito net, and I had gone to sleep on my Bible because I didn't quite finish preparing for that next day. It was my opportunity to tell them about God, 'cause the rules of the school were according to the Bible. So I was gonna introduce Jesus to the parents. I'm really excited, but I slept on that porch. It's an open porch, and I'm facing the house. And in the middle of the night I woke up, and the Thai dogs were viciously barking. And it wasn't Thai soldiers, 'cause it was Thai dogs. And so I knew that Burmese soldiers had come across, and I'm scared, and I hear noise in the banana bushes, trees, and then as I'm looking towards the silhouette against the mountain behind me, I see a Burmese soldier jump up on the porch, and his gun hanging out there, sticking up. And then he crouches down, and I didn't see any more. I'm scared to death, and I'm just as stiff as a board. And I'm saying, "O Lord, I know You say, 'Fear not, fear not,' but I'm so scared". And then the thought came to me, "Well, you know it was God's will for you to come here. Would He let you die the first month that you're here"? And so I calmed down, but I'm sharing the porch with an enemy. And so I don't know how long it was that I lay there stone still. And then suddenly a big light came on, like a big truck headlight, against the back of my head, 'cause I'm facing the wall, and it's open around. And I see that light just hit. And I think, I'm scared again because I think, "Oh, they see my gray ponytail, and they're gonna just shoot me in the head, of course". And so I'm scared again, and then the light goes out. I learned a lot about fear right away. And after a little while I had to go to the bathroom. So I thought, "Well, they've had plenty of time to kill me. I'm just going to get up and go to the bathroom," so I did. I came back out, and I shone my little Thai phone around, and I didn't see anything. And then I lay back down in my mosquito net, and my Bible was open, remember?


And it was open to Psalm 118, verse 17: "I shall not die, but live and proclaim the works of the Lord".

No way.

Just shining up at me, that's all I saw, and I just know that all of the things that happened ever since, it has taught me that God is in charge, and if I die, that means I bring Him more glory through my death than if I live, but if He's got work for me to do, nothing can kill me, so that was a major thing. And then people that take mad horse medicine and drink alcohol, they go crazy.

"Mad horse medicine"?


We need a definition.

Yeah, we do, but I don't know what it is, either.

Oh, you don't?

It may be a little bit like meth, but they make it in the caves in the mountains.

Oh really?

And every village has it. It's easy to get, apparently. And people like it because they have super energy all day.


And can work and run. But if they take it with alcohol or opium, we live in the biggest opium ring in Thailand, so they're, quite often these people go completely crazy. And they hear voices in their head, and they obey the voices. And they're, just know that they're being chased to be killed, and so they will kill anybody in their way. And because we bring Jesus to these people, they feel like we can calm any situation. So when these people finally come home to their house, they call us because they want us to have a worship with them and somehow, miraculously, make them not so scary, so...


We've had several occasions, and murder, that we've had to respond to. There's many stories like that. You can be scared of elephants and snakes and people, but the biggest thing to fear is that you're gonna forget God in your morning devotions and that you'll lose your hold on Him and that you will be full of selfishness and pride. That's worse than all that.

So there you are in the jungle. And I want to talk a little more about what it is you do. So on a day to day, let's get started before we go to our break, what do you, what does a day in the life look like? Because we've established you're in a very dangerous place, probably a very beautiful place. You have not said that, but is it beautiful?

Yes, beautiful.

Okay, okay. You're with lovely people, for the most part?

Yes, yes, yes.

Unless they've taken wild horse stuff and they're outta their minds.


But what are you doing?

Okay, well, what we do, well, first of all, I get up early and run and then cook breakfast, and patients can come any time of the day or night, we just have a open clinic, and so we treat the sick. Three days a week we go to another village, and we usually take the motorbike, and we pick a village, but God sometimes changes our direction, and we end up, somebody's dying or somebody's really sick, and we get to help them. So we go with the idea to teach them about God very simply; we bring the Bible story to the people and treat the sick, and they feed us. We eat rice and chili with them.

They feed you?

Mm-hmm. They feed us. As soon as we come, they start, put their rice on. These people, you know, they're very poor, and they have nothing, but they give everything. They want you to eat all what they have, many, they want you to eat a lot.


So we treat the sick, we eat the food, we have a little worship and prayer with the people, and that's three days a week. And then our church, we have a little church. And when I first came, there were four people who would come to church, four or five. And now it's 12 years later, 55 or 60 people come to church.

Oh, wow.

And I get to preach every week.

Oh fantastic.

It's just such a blessing. I don't care about any of the other things that are bad around me because when I'm in front of them, looking at their faces, they are so intently interested and listening. I started very, very simple 12 years ago, and then a little bit more and more.

Let me ask you: What language are you doing this all in?

It's in Karen, and I'm very bad at the language because I'm old, but BletJhaw is my coworker. We work together, and he's my interpreter, so...

I can tell you're bad because when you went there, there were four people in church, and now there's 55. So that sounds like something went...

It's the language of love.

Actually, I think something went right, not wrong. So maybe "bad" is good.

Maybe so.

In the right context.


I wanna talk a little more about what you're doing, how you're getting around, how the church is growing, how people are responding to Jesus, and more. I'm enjoying this, and I expect you are, too. She's Gayle Haberkam, a missionary in Thailand. I'm John Bradshaw, this is "Conversations," brought to you by It Is Written. We are back in just a moment.

Welcome back to "Conversations," brought to you by It Is Written. My guest is missionary Gayle Haberkam. I mean to ask you this: How in the world are you supported?

Well, it's simply by donation.

Mm-hmm. Are you affiliated with an organization, or are you a lone ranger?

I'm not a lone ranger. We have all heaven on our side, and I'm under Jesus4Asia. Jon and Natalie Wood, with Jesus4Asia, is under that umbrella.


And so they give 100% of donations to the missionaries.


And, you know, whenever you pray for something, you need something, God gives it, so...

Yeah.'s a miracle thing.

So if somebody wants to support you or to support the work of Jesus4Asia, that's Jesus4Asia; that's with a 4., and that's how that goes.


Yeah, fantastic. Have there ever been times when you've said, "I don't know where the next dollar is coming from"?

Yes, actually since we built a new clinic and a house, I'm not in the bamboo house anymore; God give us a big place. That year I'd eaten into my retirement account, because to stay in Thailand, I have a retirement visa.


And I had eaten well into it, and by three months before my year end, I have to prove that I have that amount of money. But I was $5,000 short; plus, my truck, Mitsubishi truck that had brought all the supplies in to build that clinic, had broken down irreparably. So I was really poor and didn't have the truck anymore. I came to America, and I knelt on the floor with my sister and prayed for $5,000 that week so it could clear the bank in Thailand, and my visa would be okay, and prayed with that. The next day Natalie Wood called me. And she said, "Gayle, we think that you ought to know that somebody just turned in $5,000 to your account". And then I had miscalculated, I needed 7,000.

Oh, come on.

And it went. And then my family knew, and my friend said, yeah, God wants me there, and my visa is still good. Plus, that year also miraculously, in two and a half months, I preached 27 times in seven states, pushed out there.


I have no idea how that happened. And then before I went back, Jon and Natalie Wood got me on an interview with 3ABN. That was amazing.


And I don't ask for donations 'cause, it's good to do, but I cannot. And so, but they make you write it down: "I need a truck". You know?


And so then I came back to Thailand with half the money for the truck, because we're not mechanics, and if you break down in the jungle, it's bad news.

Yeah, what happens? What do you have to do?

Well, we have to go to Meta, a little village, and get a mechanic to drive a motorbike up and try to fix it, but it never works. You drive another kilometer, and it breaks again anyway.


We wanted a kinda new truck so that it would be reliable. And the roads are so bad that it would need to be pretty new. And so we came back and we had half the money for the truck, but then after a couple weeks we had enough.


And it was a miracle. We got, because somebody gave us their dealer discount on it, we bought a brand new Toyota truck right off the showroom floor.

Fantastic. That's just what you needed.


And the work could go ahead?

Gayle Haberkam: Yes.

Yeah. You're dealing with people in difficult situations. You said you're in the opium ring. I'm wondering if you ever have to deal with drug addiction, and if you do, what that looks like in a mountain village.

I would tell you that probably 75% of the men are addicted to opium.

No way.

And some of them so far gone that they mainline it three times a day, and they can't take care of their homes, they can't repair their bamboo homes, they can't grow their rice, and they're always trying to work for somebody to get a little money so they can buy more opium. It's so addicting like that. And it's against the law. So, soldiers will be dropped from helicopters from year to year; they will destroy part of the gardens. They will shoot to kill if they find people in the rice garden and, or put them in jail. And so they have tried to get rid of it, but in the process some of the soldiers get addicted to opium too.


And opium is such, they can process it from the field and get a lump about that big and drive it down to the main road and sell it for about 20,000-30,000 baht, which is almost $1,000.

And that's real money to them? That's a lot of money?

That's real money.


Yeah, so that keeps going in our villages. And so from time to time, we're also a detox center.


So that if people want to get off of opium, they can come, and we will help them, if they will obey and stick to our rules. And so, many times it works, but many times the people go back to opium because the people selling opium will give them something for free to start 'em back on. It's very, very hard. But when the people, when we help them detox, we teach them about God, and we want them to have this personal relationship with God; otherwise they don't have enough strength to stay off of it. And so one young man, PePa, he was, like, useless, hopeless material on opium, but I had sewn his foot up. He'd cut his foot a couple years before, and I was able to go to his house every day to keep him from walking through the river with the sutures. And he came to me one year and asked if we could help him get off opium.


And so definitely we'll do whatever it takes to help you. He did really well, and he really ate up the story of Jesus and the gospel story and Jesus coming again.


And he has become a faithful church member. His face, if you could see the picture before and after, he's looked so clean-cut and so on fire. He leads out in the Sabbath school classes. He sings with the other young men that are right with God, a little core of strong believers in our church. And so that, but, you know, Jesus would've died for one person.

Oh yeah.

But I see more than one I'm sure God can save out of there.

So, you're seeing miracles. I'm just, you've told me some miraculous things already. Tell me some, share some more miracle stories. What have you seen? Tell me the story about the truck.

Yeah, well, this was the new black Toyota truck that we got from the showroom floor. It's a very special truck because angels have touched it. And the roads that, as I told you, are very bad...


...and lately rainy season has been five months out of the year. And as soon as it rains one time, it's very dangerous. We're an instant disaster. Rainy season, we try to get the truck out of there. But one time we had to bring Bibles and food into BeYoTa in the truck, and we all of a sudden heard a loud clap of thunder to the left, and instantly it started to pour, just torrential downpour. And we think, "Well, where are we"? We're taking the long way in, 'cause you can't take the shortcut. If it's the least bit wet, that would be suicide. So we decide it's worse ahead; we better turn around and go back. So we did quite well, and we went a long way. But we get to a place where it's quite steep, goes downhill, and turns to the right. And there's red mud all over this concrete section of road. And the red mud is the slipperiest.


Black mud, okay, white mud, not bad, but the red, it's red. And so as we hit that mud, that truck goes into a skid, it's going out of control, and when it's skidding, it just takes up velocity, and it's going straight to the cliff. And it's a really, really long straight down cliff there. And the mud, the red mud is in a soft pile right along the edge of the road, right where that cliff goes. And I heard BletJhaw say, "Lord, help, help, help"! And we're going flying like that to the edge. And just as the back wheel spun around and got onto that edge of the cliff right there, it stopped. Truck stopped, and we got out of the truck; instantly we both fell down because it's so slippery, and we had the winch, but it's kind of going downhill, but it's kind of going that way too. And it took us a couple hours to struggle and to use the winch and...get out of that situation. But that was devil trying to kill us and push us right off.

And you survived that, quite obviously. And I imagine if you were able to, peeking over the edge of that cliff and looking how far down it was, that was certain death.

Yeah, for certain. It was very, it's, like, the steepest place that I remember seeing out there, very, very steep, so.

I wonder what it's like for you going to the wilds, you're in a jungle without modern conveniences, and then popping up out of there and returning to the United States. Clearly, on one hand, it's a great joy because you're back, you're at home or, well, actually, where's home for you now? Is home still the United States?

No, I have nothing here.

Okay, so home in your heart is...?

I guess, BeYoTa, heaven, actually.

Yeah, okay. Earthly, wherever you are in the mission field. You come back to the United States. It's not the place it was when you were that little girl living on the big farm...


...coming back from your morning worship, singing and talking to your mom. What's that like? That conflict of coming out of the mission field, where you're working for souls, you're working for people who are addicted, working for people who are literally worshiping the devil, and you come back to the United States, where people's heads are everywhere but mission and ministry. And do you notice the downward slide that we are experiencing in the Western world? Or does it all...?

Yes, I do. I do. It's a very sad thing for me, because, though the devil is very blatant in my jungle mountains; in America, it is subtle. And it is all taking people that are too busy and materialistic and just working with their own plans and not giving it all to Jesus. They just don't feel the need for that.

You see that?

I see that. And it's really heartbreaking. And one year I came, and there was a huge vacation Bible school going on somewhere, and millions of dollars have been spent to set it all up. And the little children were dressed in those really rich clothes. And I just had to go in the parking lot and cry, because I'm with the little children, and in the far, some of the villages, they go naked till they're 8, and then, you know, they have nothing, but they're happy with nothing. And these children seem like mostly they're not happy. And if we're not in the center of God's will and willing to surrender all, give to Jesus, we're never gonna be happy. We won't feel that joy, and to me it's heartbreaking. And I'm so happy this year because I'm with Jesus4Asia, and we're doing eight different faith camps all across America and back. And the people that think that they've arrived, and they're just going through the paces at church are realizing that there's more than that. Because together with these missionaries, we can really make a difference and tell these stories to people, and they can, we see them saying, "Oh, I'm so far from that. How do I, what's the first step out of Laodicea"? Things like that, and that's why I'm really glad to be here. But as far as my preferences, I'd much rather be in the jungle.

So there you are, dealing with people who at times are dreadfully ill. How do you manage to stay healthy?

Well, isn't that a good question? Because I had been there for six or seven years, and I never had a cold or a cough or a sore throat. And I would drink the water with the people right away.


And eat with them. And I never got diarrhea, never got sick. But one time I did get sick, but I, it used used to be that we had to walk all the way in and out in rainy season because the roads were too bad. So it would take us six and a half hours to walk out, and then to come back, it'd take almost eight hours to come back because it's uphill just so much. Usually by the time we get to BeYoTa, at times hungry, and I put the rice on, I'm so happy that we made it, and I'm gonna cook. This time, my fingers are numb, and I felt cold. And I said to BletJhaw, "Is it cold here"? And he said, "Not really". And then by the time I went to bed, my temperature was 104, and it was going up. And I didn't take it again. And so I had, I'm the only medical person up there, so I had figured out; I knew what was wrong with me. I had dengue fever.


And dengue fever is from an infected mosquito that bites. And so your symptoms are your arms and legs really hurt, your fever goes rolling up and down really high, and your stomach is in a knot and hurts, and your head is in a vice, and you feel like you're gonna die. And I had all those symptoms. And so BletJhaw said to me, "Won't you go to the doctor"? But it's rainy season.


I said, "Well, dengue fever is a virus, and antibiotic won't touch a virus, so the hospital really can't do anything, and it's raining. I will never make it out of here". And so he kept asking me that question, it was Thursday when this started, and so by Sabbath, that was the third day, I had blood in my urine. And I thought, "Well, now, that's weird". Because with dengue fever, the hemorrhagic phase starts on the fourth day. So I thought that was a little strange. But Saturday night it rained all night, like an Olympic-size swimming pool opened out on the roof, all night long. And in the morning, BletJhaw said to me, "Gayle, won't you go to the hospital"? I said, "BletJhaw, no! Did you not hear the rain all night long? I'll never make it up that mountain". And he went away. And as soon as he went away, I heard God's voice in my mind loud and clear. It said, "Gayle, you're being stubborn". Oh. I said, "O Lord, yes, I am being stubborn because BletJhaw always gives me good advice, and I'm not listening to him. Do You want me to go? You want me to go, don't You"? And then, just then the school, we have a little 6th grade government school next to us, it started up this wild music that's just devilish, and sometimes all day; we have to leave. It started up. I thought, "Yah, He wants me to go". So BletJhaw got SaSay, a neighbor boy, to take me up the second mountain, I have to walk the first mountain, second one because he's got longer legs, and he thinks he can get me up on the motorbike. And so I walk up that first one, it's raining, I have the thin kind of raincoat on that they sell there, and then I get on the motorbike, and we've got chains on the back wheel, and that kind of helps...


...a lot, and so we wrecked three times, and the first time we wrecked, the chain breaks. And I think, "Oh, great. That's the only thing that's gonna help us get out of here. We've got so far to go". And then, the second time we wreck, the third time we're on a kind of level place with this big rut, and we fall off the level place, we hit the rut, we go across another, to another rut, we hit a rock, and I flip completely head over heels off the back of the bike. And I'm laying in the mud.

And you have a fever of a hundred and whatever?

I'm so sick.


I am very sick, and I'm laying there in the mud. And SaSay can't hold the motorbike up because it's steep. It's coming down, down, down to, and it comes, and it's going around and around, a tire on my stomach, and my raincoat is ripped off, and my clothes are ripped off, and just then BletJhaw is walking to try to keep up with us, and he looks horror-struck. And I don't know how that changed. And we got to the hospital, I really don't remember, guess it's a long way. It's two and a half, three hours. But I'm thinking, not then, but much later I thought, "What if that chain hadn't broken off the back of that wheel when that wheel was on my stomach"? I would've really gotten hurt. So I went to the hospital, and I got checked for malaria. Not malaria. I got checked for dengue fever. Not dengue fever. I'm, like, shocked. I have scrub typhus. And scrub typhus comes from a little flea or a louse off of a rat, not near the village, but in the deep jungles, if there's an infected flea off of a rat, you can get scrub typhus. It's very deadly. People get irreversible organ damage or die in seven days. And this was the fourth day. I got the medication that I needed on the fourth day. So, God spoke to me; He saved my life. And we can trust in Him 100% every day.

You're there to serve Jesus.


And in your heart, you're there to introduce people to Jesus.


Tell me about the joy of that. You're in a tough place.

I'm in a tough place, and I'm really, really so thankful to God, because I feel like these people have come from a whole different lifestyle than me. But for the grace of God, I'd be there doing that. And they don't know any better. And we're just now trying to be their friend and help them medically so that they will want to know the God we serve, and you pray with them, and you can see that their eyes change from dull and dark and hopeless to bright.


And so I think God can save a lot of them just by a visit to the clinic, that we pray with them, and they've seen Jesus there, and they can have hope.

Must be tremendously encouraging. You've seen the church there grow dramatically...

Yes. your time. Look into the future for me. What do you see? What's coming?

Well, I want to do a training program for the young men because there's a group of really interested young men that want to know more about the Bible. And if they can learn for, just to be a Bible worker to reach the villages around us. We need those that are on fire for God and that can help their own people, 'cause there's 50 villages surrounding us. And so it's a very big mission field, and I'd like to be able to send many people out there, like that PePa that got off opium, they need to be, replace the evil with good...


...and be able to work for God.

Gayle Haberkam, thank you.


This has been a joy and...inspiring. And I just hope that...

Praise the Lord.

...somebody has heard you. In fact, I believe somebody has heard you today and is responding like little Gayle did years ago and saying, "I wanna be a missionary".


It'd be wonderful. Thanks so much for being here. God bless you.

Thank you. Praise the Lord.

And thank you for being here. This has been a joy, hasn't it? She is Gayle Haberkam. And I'm John Bradshaw, and this has been our conversation.
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