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Thai Visa denied. Hello SA after 12 years.


Here is the full story. It includes both how God has been leading me, but also the fact that the Thai Consulate went through my files of the last 7 years, questioning what I was “really doing” They gave me a 60 day tourist visa to deal with my belongings before returning to South Africa in early February, which is in time for my next Masters' intensive in Cape Town.

Dear friends,

“… the biggest problem of map-making is not that we have to start from scratch, but that if our maps are to be accurate we have to continually revise them. The process of making revisions, particularly major revisions, is painful, sometimes excruciatingly painful.”

(Scott Peck - The Road less travelled.)

My “map” is in full revision because, not only is the world a place that constantly changing (I am referring to the Thai Government towards expats here), but also because God is refining the arrow of my specific call and where I am to focus with intentionality in the context of where I serve in YWAM.


…it is usually wise in a season of tremendous and unexpected loss to deliberately steer away from exceptional and large decisions. If you do recall my previous letters, you might have noticed a small but important thread weaving between the lines. In the last year I kept mentioning that I am concerned about my visa. Not giving into the thought of changing nations unless God speaks clear, all I could do was to fight my way through every visa approval until God showed otherwise.


All along the constant visa issues, I strangely sensed my season changing but had no idea what it meant. I kept looking inside the window of my heart. I observed trees changing colour to announce a new season, but I did not understand the reason or implications at the time.

Trying to see through eyes filled with moisture whilst reflecting on a grave of which the soil is barely dry, and looking back over sharing life with a missions’ partner (Penny) for 12 years knowing its coming to an end, I could not trust the notion of what I was sensing.

I was not ready to lose my house & Thailand after the sudden loss of Zarias, Stripes and Penny all at the same time ! (Penny is moving to the Middle East in 2018)

These unclear promptings in my heart meant I was to also "lose" my home, car, the printing house as my neighbour, the strategic nature of Thailand (see mission stats here) and being surrounded with unreached people groups, the safety and love for the city of Chiang Mai… It felt impossible to understand and act with clarity at the time. I am still in a place where “I just want my dog Stripes come back!” And that is OK. Experiencing zero closure in this matter and being a person who really appreciates closure (I am not an open ended person at all) is what makes this journey feel so difficult.


What makes life difficult is that the process of confronting and solving problems is a painful one.” (Peck)

It seemed too painful to even imagine God was asking me to leave Thailand, too painful to think I have to shift gears in ministry and work with new people, too painful to lose what I have gained. But this is where I have a choice to either grow or become stuck. I choose to grow.


I know with conviction that I am leaving Thailand because of God and not because of circumstances only, and that is a very important point for me personally. I knew I had to spend extra time in SA for my Capstone and this decision happened right before the visa denial. Last weekend I had a talk with Penny, and we both agreed that it seemed like God was beginning to make it clear that moving to South Africa was becoming a reality.

On Tuesday,I had a phone conversation with the Thai Consular official. She said that she thinks I have stayed too long in Thailand. She started to question me quite strongly. I was in in Thailand a 7 full years.How ironic. That God had to use the consulate to confirm His words to me. It was not that He was silent at all. I was the one that could not understand His words because of the underlying pain on top of all the loss in 2017.

I paged back through my diary. I could not believe how clear God was directing me. This is a major learning curve in my walk with God and faith. The lesson I am learning, is how pain and loss can distort the understanding of the clear conversation I have with God. God does not muddle his words. It is my brain and emotional involvement that is muddled up! Once again the unspotted character of God wins the day. He is Perfect Love and he is Unmeasurably Good and this ought to be the True Lens through which I look at my surrendered life unfolding before God.

All the words that I thought were “off the wall” are actually slowly coming true. I never saw how much throughout my diary God was referring to the figure Joseph and what Joseph went through to be shaped by God for his strategic call. He constantly experienced ''position-loss', position-loss. A month ago I even counted all the ‘cloaks’ he lost and did find it quite fascinating!

Then in September God gave me Jeremiah 8:7 “even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons and the dove, the swallow and the crane observe the time of migration.” I also realised I had a few dreams that I could not explain that now seems to point directly to this season.


So, I am for an unforeseen length going back to South Africa. I need to be in the nation of South Africa to soon commence and finish my Capstone Project for the Masters’ Program. This will end in May 2019. Until then I will be “somewhere” in South Africa. Acts 17:26 gives me comfort, “God marked out their appointed times in history and the boundary of their dwellings”

About two months ago God gave me a vision and in this vision he gave me a house key. He said “keep this, you will need it later.” Of course I had no idea why he was showing me a house key. Was I going to move? I just wrote it down and 'placed it on the shelf'. I have peace in regards to my housing. God knows where, with who and which community I need to stay in for this season while I work on my Capstone with a focus on South Africa. So “watch this space!”

How can you pray for me during December - February?

Keep in mind that all of this happens while I have weekly Masters’ assignments – GRACE for this season is what I need most. I am at least keeping up with the homework and enjoying the richness and diversity it brings.

In some sense I am glad I am done with the difficult Thai language study but it was one heck of an experience!!

  • Our dealings with our lease in Thailand needs to be smooth. Both Penny and I need to get all of our deposits back.

  • Legal banking details and vehicles in our names need to be sorted. Penny will sell our Avanza and buy a trustworthy car in the Middle East. I had a strong conviction that she should have the car.

  • Moving out of our house to a temporary place, sorting and packing. I'm not planning on shipping anything so it is like starting life all over again except for my clothing! How I will miss my couch, amazing coffee machine, motorbike and office with my white board! I can hardly function without a white board when I write books.

  • Provision for housing, and a reliable vehicle for long distance when I move. I have faith that God will sort me out with a decent car that can safely run between Cape Town and Pretoria later in South Africa. I am quite sure God will set this up. I will need this for my Capstone Project seeing that I will be traveling many miles in South Africa to do what’s on my heart. You can pray that God will lay it on someone's heart to be the channel through which this provision will come. (If you need some faith, read the story of how God provided the previous car in Thailand. It was so awesome!)

Thanks for standing with me. I am excited for this new season with YWAM and the UofN.

It is such a delight to walk a surrendered life with a Faithful God Who is also a super Faithful Friend!

In Him,

Sarah Anna-Lise

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