My first thoughts upon landing in Thailand were weighty ones. As I cast my eyes upon the tarmac out my airplane window, I gazed upon the Thai airplane crew with wonder. God created these people, just as he created me and yet so many of them will never know Jesus as Lord.
According to Steve Cable, FCC-supported missionary in Bangkok, this city has a disputed population of nearly 15 million people. Ninety-four percent of the population is Buddhist, 5% of the population is Muslim and less than 1% of the population is Christian, including all denominations (Thailand’s National Statistics Office). Needless to say, there is kingdom work to be done in Thailand.
Steve Cable has lived in Bangkok for 27 years with his wife Nopaluck. They have developed a unique model for sharing the Gospel. They offer English classes to Thai people at a variety of levels (children-adult). Each class curriculum’s reading comprehension materials are taken directly from the Bible and following each reading is a question and answer section about the Bible reading. Over time both Thai teachers and short-term missionaries from FCC and other churches forge relationship with students. As students have faith questions Thai Christian teachers further explain the hope of the Gospel.
The Santisuk (Peace) English School, which FCC has partnered with since 1989, has six centers around the city of Bangkok, with a long-term plan to open 12 more over the next eight and a half years. Each center reaches a different population of the city and becomes like a family. The staff and students meet weekly in multiple neighborhood groups as well as for worship.
This past summer, my 20-year-old daughter, Kia Feia, and FCCer Katelyn Peterson, served short-term teachers at Santisuk. Steve impressed upon me the need for more short-term native English speakers to come and teach for one month or more.
I received an email from Nopaluck Cable thanking Faith Community for the offerings our children donated. “The funds you gave to Santisuk’s children’s ministry have enabled us to help three groups of underprivileged kids: 1. Poor students from Kaisee School, 2. Orphans at Haven Children’s Home in Pattaya (Thailand’s Sin City). 3. The Moken (pronounced maw-gan in Thai) or sea gypsy kids.”
In 2015-16 Faith Community’s yearlong children’s offerings were collected for a special initiative. Nearby the main Santisuk location is the Kaiser School. Children grades K-6 who live in poverty attend this school. The school is funded by the government who furnishes both uniforms and meals to the students. In an effort to raise some of these children out of poverty, Santisuk has developed a partnership with Kaisee. Through funds donated by FCC’s children, approximately 30 students were selected for scholarships to learn more intensive English using Bible-based curriculum during their March-May summer vacation and their October term break. Santisuk teacher Kwan taught these children.
While in Bangkok, I visited the Kaisee School. I had the opportunity to teach in the third, fourth and sixth grade classes and to address the entire school. I teared up more than once to look out at a sea of young children as they prayed to Buddha together. Merely a few of them statistically will come to know Christ as Savior and Lord. Only God knows which ones will be saved. I was fortunate to meet their English teacher, who teaches them daily. She is the only believer on the school staff.I encouraged her that she is the light in the darkness.
Not only were FCC’s children’s offerings able to help the Kaisee School, Nopaluck rejoiced that our offerings extended to orphans at Haven Children’s Home. Little, by American standards, can go far in Thailand. Sixty of our dollars (2000 baht) purchased socks and underwear for 40 grade school aged orphans including several high school aged kids. Additionally, FCC kids helped the Moken children. The Moken people group survived the huge and disastrous 2004 tsunami in SE Asia. The Santisuk church has been working with the Moken to help build The “Santisuk House,” where Moken kids can come to hang out, do their homework, get counsel, take refuge, study the Bible, and participate in Santisuk programs.
God is at work in Thailand! Faith Community has forged a long-term partnership with Santisuk. Both are committed to seeing the Gospel message and hope that comes from faith in Christ, brought to the Thai nation.
If you have any questions about FCC’s ministry in Thailand, or if you would consider serving as a short-term teacher, please contact Pastor Larry Szyman, who directs FCC’s international missions.
First published in “FAITH Hudson,” Fall 2017, a publication of Faith Community Church.