Last summer I delivered my daughter, Kia, to spend the summer serving as an FCC short-term missionary at the Santisuk (Peace) English School in Thailand. I had a casual conversation with the school Director, Steve Cable, about ways that Faith Community might partner with Santisuk to further develop their ministry. Steve mentioned possible plans to send a team of Thai leaders to the United States in the summer of 2018 for leadership development. I extended an invitation for Thai leaders to join the Vacation Bible School team. A couple of months passed and Steve contacted FCC Pastor Larry Szyman, Pastor for Missional Life, about making concrete plans for such a visit. FCC’s vision is to see, “Christ transforming individuals and families, renewing neighborhoods and the valley, and empowering local and global missional leaders.” The third part of that vision statement is what this summer’s Thai leadership visit is all about!
Santisuk offers English classes to Thai people at a variety of levels using the Bible as curriculum. In 2016, Santisuk had three locations and launched the Bangkok 15/25 initiative to add 15 more English centers/churches by the year 2025. They currently have seven centers around the city of Bangkok, and they are on track to add 11 more by 2025. In 2011, Santisuk began a leadership development program called Leadership For the New Millennium (LFNM) in which they send a team of Thai Christian leaders to the U.S. for a visit. In 2015, they began sending teams for a week-long summer experience. This summer they have selected a team of seven leaders who will visit the US from June through July. The trip will benefit each member who comes, each church they visit and ultimately benefit the entire Santisuk ministry in Thailand.
The future goal is that these leaders will assist in developing the Bangkok 15/25 Program, which is the plan to start new centers that will be both English outreach points and church plants in Bangkok. LFNM will benefit FCC as we get a chance to see and hear first-hand what has been happening in Bangkok and how lives have been changed by FCC’s partnership and investment. The Santisuk ministry will benefit from sending the LFNM team if some FCCers become inspired to serve as long- or short-term missionaries who volunteer to teach English in the centers.
The team is not seeking any financial support for this trip, although they would happily accept contributions. Santisuk is covering the airfare and each member is individually covering personal expenses. The main goal is an opportunity for significant ministry while the team is at FCC.
Join me in welcoming these brothers and sisters in Christ! Pray for this experience to develop them into strong leaders in the faith so that they can make better disciples of Christ in Bangkok, Thailand.
A One-Week Visit
The LFNM team will visit a number of churches in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Faith Community agreed to host the eight-member team, along with Santisuk directors Steve and Nopaluk Cable, from Sunday, July 15, until they fly back to Bangkok on Tuesday, July 24.
FCC agreed to furnish nine host families, one for each team member and their directors. It is essential that Thai leaders be housed separately to encourage heir English language proficiency. FCC’s Damaris Field, who recently returned from serving in the mission field in Niger, Africa, is coordinating housing for the team.
The team will serve as assistant leaders for FCC’s Vacation Bible School week and will put on daily missionary presentations sharing their Thai culture, talents and testimonies of faith. This year’s Vacation Bible School offering will be collected to contribute towards launching one of the new English centers (part of the Bangkok 15/25 initiative). The team will also give an update on their ministry to our congregation during worship on Sunday, July 22.
Introduce LFNM to a New Church
The Bridge, FCC’s church plant in Somerset, has agreed to host the Thai team for a visit. The team is not looking for funding from new churches. They are seeking to present a program about their ministry and to encourage long-term and short-term missionaries to teach English in Bangkok.
Visit Church Members’ Businesses
A special part of what the team requests is to interact with leaders in our church at their place of business. They desire to see what people do in their workplace, to learn about their jobs, to hear about difficult decisions they have made, to explain how God has blessed them and given them guidance or opportunity to succeed in what they do. Past teams have visited a variety of leaders at work, from a judge in her courtroom, to state senators, CEOs of companies, to interviewing car dealership owners. They have even visited a dairy farm and watched people make maple syrup. It is helpful to have insight into American culture and leadership and to see how God is working in and through Christians in their workplace. FCC already has a number of business owners and leaders who have expressed willingness to host the team for a visit.
Plans are in motion for the team to visit the world-renowned Mall of America, to picnic at the Hudson band shell and listen to one of the free concerts in the park, to visit the Como Zoo and local beaches, even to take in a good old-fashioned American baseball game.
This article was first published in the summer 2018 edition of "Faith Hudson" magazine.