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2018 Thailand Report

Posted by Steve Laufer on

Every time I go to Thailand I’m struck by both the kindness and hospitality of the local people mixed with the incredibly challenging environment for Christians and churches to operate and thrive. Most pie charts that depict the statistics of religious groups in the country look remarkably like Pac-Man (especially when the color yellow represents Buddhism). Estimates range anywhere from 93-96% of the country’s residents identify with the national religion. Of the remaining populace, 4-5% identify as Muslim and less than 2% identify as Christian. Our Christian friends there are not only faced with being a drastic religious minority, but the majority religion is generally viewed as part of the fabric of national and cultural Thailand.

My relationship with one Baptist church in the northeastern city of Udonthani was formed through a mutual connection who is a former UBC family. A second former UBC family are now members of this church also. The pastor of their church is a well-respected and widely connected Christian leader in all of Thailand, as well as the greater Southeast Asian Christian community. Through his friendship and leadership, UBC partnered this past June to provide a 3-day Pastor’s theological conference. These types of training opportunities for small, often bi-vocational, pastors are vital to their spiritual development. Many of them live in family, work, and church environments where full-time theological education is challenging or even impossible. And so the extent of theological training they receive comes from opportunities just like this.

On June 7-9, 32 Christian leaders from NE Thailand and Laos gathered at a retreat center for three days of training and education pertaining to the biblical interpretation, ministry application, and preaching of the first five books of the Old Testament, Genesis through Deuteronomy. A grant from the UBC Foundation entirely funded the conference. For us, the initiative is not simply in providing a retreat, but in making a lasting investment in the theological education of Christian leaders, both paid and volunteer, women and men, young and old. Our hope and prayer are that investment in each of those leaders is a long-term investment in each of the churches where they serve. That God will take UBC’s time, money, and love for God’s Word, and multiply it over and over again in the work and ministry of these numerous communities of faith seeking to connect people to God’s Kingdom in places you and I will never go.

Please pray for these churches, their pastors and lay leaders, and their church members. Pray that their efforts to share the gospel in their communities will be effective and fruitful. Pray that the Lord will continue to provide for all their needs, financial, material, and spiritual. Thanks for allowing me the time to be gone and to participate in this endeavor (along with preaching at our host church in Udonthani, and spending time with their pastor and resident missionaries), and thanks for supporting the UBC Foundation which is investing in theological education both here at home and abroad.


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