Feb 2, 2010

Students minister in Thailand

by Taylor Overhultz

As many students prepared to return to school for the spring semester, 11 students were preparing to share the gospel to Buddhists in Thailand. The two-week trip began on Jan. 1 and was hosted by Light Ministries.

The team originally planned to work with Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE), one of Light’s partner organizations. However, an in-field emergency prevented the partnership on the Thailand trip.

“Due to (the) emergency, our missionaries recommended that we work with Global English School (GES), a local ministry run by Thai national Christians,” Light Ministries office worker Angela Whitworth said. Whitworth was one of two Light Ministries team leaders on the trip.

The main purpose of the trip was to assist the local ministry of GES by showing kindness and generosity on their behalf and therefore building up their credibility and rapport in the community they are attempting to reach, according to Whitworth.

Students taught English in various settings and worked with children and adults. The team hosted day camps for local children and taught songs, made crafts, played games and read stories. Later, they hosted a weekend camp in Cha-am, a southern city that sits on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand, teaching English to university students.

Sophomore Abby Wilson, a member of the Thailand team, found it difficult to teach the older age groups, including the university students.

“It was hard to teach without using games or songs like we did with the children, but the University students were so eager to learn,” Wilson said. “At one point, we were performing a skit, and I was sitting in the audience with these students and they were weeping. They were Buddhist but still so moved by the message.”
According to Whitworth, the concepts of Buddhism are so ingrained in the culture of Thailand that traditional Western approaches to evangelism are often ineffective. A Christian must seek to cultivate relationships of mutual respect, trust and love among Buddhist people and await the opportunity to share the gospel with understanding hearts.

“The hardest part of the trip was not seeing any clear-cut results in our work there,” Wilson said. “Our job was really just to plant the seed and to set foundations for the ministry already in place.”
In order to help plant the seed, the team was required to have 12 weeks of training. Students covered everything from support development to sharing their testimonies through a translator. In addition to this training, the Thailand team also spent several hours preparing plans for English camps as well as learning a drama.

While most of the population of Thailand consists of practicing Buddhists, less than one percent are Christians, according to the CIA Factbook Web site. According to Whitworth, this was the hardest challenge to the team.

“At Liberty we are around thousands of people everyday who worship Christ as Lord. In Thailand, you can pretty much assume that not one person you see in a given day is a Christian,” Whitworth said. “This type of environment has an effect on your time in worship and prayer and it can be a difficult thing to face.”
The trip was the first of 10 missions trips Light Ministries will be leading this year. For more information on being involved with Light Ministries, visit the Center for Global Ministries located in Dorm 17.

Contact Taylor Overhultz at
Toverhultz@liberty.edu


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