by Rev. Dr. Leonardo Neitzel
Thailand is a kingdom of the Buddhist faith and practice where the influence of Islam is growing. It is a country of diverse and fascinating landscape; of the richest rubber tree and rice plantation; of contrasts between poor and rich; of friendly, kind and very respectful people.
Into this unique region, God has brought Lutheran Church–Canada to bear witness of His love through Jesus Christ as Savior for all people. Here is where we joined faithful Lutheran servants on our first day visiting the mission fields.
We met Dr. Leonard Harms (and his wife Carol) LCC mission area volunteer and director of Lutheran Institute of Southeast Asia (LISA) in Bangkok. LISA prepares pastors, deaconesses and lay leaders for the work of God’s kingdom. We also met Joe and Ar, his beloved wife, who together with Robin, have dedicated their time and gifts in reaching out to others, becoming God’s bridge-builders for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in such a challenging world.
Later we met Rev.Som Pong, pastor of the Concordia Into Light Church in Bangkok, who also assists Dr. Harms at LISA. He speaks fluent English and has been a blessing and of great help to LCC’s mission.
As you interact with non-Christian Thais it seems their spiritual life is like living in a vacuum or nothingness, having no grasp of the salvation and blessed eternity of forgiveness, peace and joy which Jesus Christ has conquered for all people through His suffering, death and resurrection. Their faith-based life is shaped by the view that “each and every god helps a little bit in one or another way, should someone need help.” They believe that humans are perfect; they don’t know what sin is or whether it relates to their life. Based on your efforts at perfecting the law, whatever you do will be credited to you in some way.
There is also the secular and materialistic side of this world where the advances of technology and communication have come to stay; where investors from other parts of the world invest and conduct profitable businesses; where you meet tourists from almost all parts of the world touring and spending vacation along the fascinating beaches; where nationals work in many kinds of activities (bars, groceries, taxi drivers, restaurants of may kinds) as a way of living.
As the southern part of Thailand is rebuilding after the tsunami and seems thriving with a growing economy, our prayer is that the Lord will continue providing strength and give His people eyes wide open to see how to relate to the culture better and to serve here with the spiritual food people need most – the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ.
May the Lord sustain His servants in LCC as well as His church in Thailand as He has called us His witnesses for Jesus sake.