Pioneering church planters: pray, know and go!
How do you go about planting a church in a rural village in Thailand with no Christian presence?
God calls you to share the gospel in a place you have never been, where there is little if any Christian presence. What do you do?
If you are BMS World Mission workers Helen and Wit Boondeekhun, you go for it! They followed God’s call and flew out to Thailand in January 2016 to plant a church in an unreached, predominantly Buddhist area. You could sum up their time with BMS in Thailand so far in three words: pray, know and go!
Prayer has been incredibly important for Helen and Wit as they have sought God’s will for where he wants them to go and what he wants them to do.
Praying for a home – as they visited locations where they might live, they prayed each time for guidance on the right place. "We prayed for God's leading,” says Wit.
Praying for protection – when they moved into their new home in May, they noticed a spirit-house right outside. Spirit-houses are a common sight in Thailand – people put offerings on them for the ‘spirits’ to protect their houses and bring good luck. Helen and Wit decided that prayer was the appropriate response – they prayed over every room of their house, dedicating it to God and his service and prayed over the spirit-house and removed the offerings that were on it. “Our neighbours are probably expecting us to keel over at any moment, but we hope they will see that there is nothing to fear – our protection comes from a higher source,” says Wit.
Praying with others – although the village Helen and Wit have settled in, Ban Wang Daeng, has no Christian presence, one factor that confirmed that it was the right place for them, was the support of churches in the same province. “Churches in Uttaradit work well together and pray together and have a vision for whole province,” says Helen. “We felt that if we came here, we would get a lot of local support for what we are doing.” Helen and Wit are now attending the Uttaradit churches’ weekly prayer meetings and also meeting regularly to pray with two small churches nearby to give them support and encouragement.
Understanding the community you are potentially going to serve is so important. Identifying the place where God wanted Helen and Wit to be meant they not only had to pray, but they had to get know more about it too.
Knowing the right location – BMS had already given Helen and Wit two provinces in the north of Thailand to investigate planting a church. They then chose three or four places in each province where they might live. “We were looking for districts which had none or few churches,” says Helen. They were also searching for a close-knit community where they could get to know people easily. Through regular visits to their shortlisted locations, they finally chose Ban Wang Daeng.
Getting to know people – the welcome they received in Ban Wang Daeng was another reason they chose it. Now they are there, getting to know people has been very important. “We need to build relationships and get to know the community before evangelism,” says Helen. They have found their neighbours to be very friendly – one even gave them some deep fried toads [picture above]. “They just tasted salty and crunchy, not really like anything else I've eaten before,” says Helen. “You have to eat the whole thing – bones and all!”
Knowing the need – Helen and Wit have been exploring ways they can serve. They have been talking to villagers and are planning a survey to get a greater understanding of the needs of their community.
Helen and Wit have not just prayed and found out information – they have started to act on what they know and get involved in the community God has called them to.
They have only been in Ban Wang Daeng for two months, but are already teaching several English classes which have proved to be very popular. They have 37 students altogether, ranging from seven years old to 17.
Wit has joined a committee to help administrate the setting up of an organic farming project in the local district. The first two meetings were held at their home.
Helen and Wit have achieved much in just nine months, but want to do more and reach people who are interested in hearing about the gospel.
“We want to start a seeker Bible study group but don't have any seekers yet,” says Helen. “The challenge is finding the people in the village who are seekers. How can we find these people?”
Pray for Helen and Wit as they pray, get to know their community and go about what God has called them to do.
Support the work Helen and Wit are doing by becoming a 24:7 Partner.
This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission.