Last month Barbara Hubbard, co-founder of LBM, and I (Aleah Marsden, LBM Communications Director) took a trip to Thailand. We organized this trip to meet with and encourage our Thai board of directors and to collect some stories from the front lines of our ministry in Southeast Asia. Here’s a rundown (with pictures!) of all we were able to see and do:
Saturday, January 13th: Arrival! We arrived early this morning and were picked up from the airport by Jeff Kowatch, an LBM church planting facilitator and liaison to the Thai board. We look a little worse for travel-wear, don’t we? This day was mostly spent adjusting to the +12hr time difference.
Sunday, January 14th: We visited Blessings of Ayutthaya Church in the city of Ayutthaya. Pastor Tea is one of our board members. We were able to visit a children’s Sunday school class, peek in on a one-on-one discipleship course, and share a meal after the worship service. I’ll never forget the sweet sound of singing the doxology together in Thai and English. Pastor Tea told us that they have a saying, “To be Thai is to be Buddhist,” explaining to us the strong ties of Buddhism in his country. When a Thai person becomes a Christian, they are often ostracized from their family–making fellowship with their church family vital. One way this church meets that need is by sharing a simple meal together every Sunday after the service.
Monday, January 15th: We visit Chinatown in downtown Bangkok on the hunt for materials and inspiration for Freegrance. Freegrance was founded by Barbara as an opportunity to provide dignified work to poor women who many times are driven by desperation into the sex trade. This day we were able to see firsthand the squalid living conditions of many trying to make a life in the inner city.
Wednesday, January 17th: You can find shrines on every street corner, in every vendor’s shop, and nearly every Thai home across Thailand. The one pictured above is found outside the business complex where the Living Bread Thailand office is located. I think it’s a poignant picture of a light shining in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it! We were able to look at maps to dream and pray about the inroads God is opening for ministry across Thailand, Cambodia, and even into the borderlands of Myanmar.
Thursday, January 18th: Today we took a drive out to a rural area outside of Rayong. Here we met Anan, a woman who learned to make natural soaps at a Freegrance class this church hosted. She now owns her own business! Her life is being transformed by the opportunity to learn a marketable skill and invest her time in dignified work. We were treated to a natural soap making demonstration.
Friday, January 19th: Maybe you can tell from all the pictures, but this day is one of my favorite memories from the trip. We visited The Promise Church led by Pastor Somchai, who also serves on LBM Thailand’s board of directors. Somchai is a passionate and visionary leader. We had the pleasure of meeting a woman from the church who tutors students in English, and got a tour of the tiny sound booth at the back of the building where Somchai broadcasts a Christian radio station to the surrounding area. He plays sermons, Christian music, and fields calls and questions from listeners. We met a couple who operate a small food stand outside the storefront of the home where Somchai’s family lives. Through their interactions with the family they have recently become believers and are being discipled by the church. There wasn’t a dry eye around the table at lunch that afternoon as Pastor Somchai shared his testimony while his partner in life and ministry, wife Aun, translated.
Saturday, January 20th: We begin the (LONG) journey home!
It was truly a privilege to witness the work the Lord is doing among his Church in Thailand. I felt humbled and grateful to be able to play a small part in this awesome work. We heard many stories of inroads and opportunities opening up in this area where there is less than 1% evangelical presence. Our Thai board is excited and praying for the resources to begin new outreach projects through their local churches. Could you help support them by partnering with us? Visit LivingBread.org/give for more information on how we use 100% of your donations to designated ministry area of your choice.