Preaching Grace to the Karen of Thailand

by Bruce McDowell May 3, 2015

Evangelist Boonchu (Tenth global partner) picked up Charlie Lyddane (Tenth member) and me from the Chiang Mai (Thailand) airport in the midst of a heavy downpour of rain. We stayed overnight at the ministry house (which Tenth helped to fund) with a couple of other evangelists who came to the city to get Boonchu’s motorbike repaired. The next day we traveled all day over steep mountain dirt roads, visiting a large Christian school where we prayed with the headmaster and then went on to the five villages Boonchu has been bringing the gospel to recently. 

These villages had been involved with growing poppies and serving as a base for drug dealers. They had rebuffed government efforts to intervene. However, Boonchu has been successful in bringing effective change. Consequently, the government gave Boonchu 100 acres of farmland with watering infrastructure, which he is developing with men from these five villages. Last week the Queen of Thailand came to visit the site. We are seeking to raise funds for a truck to transport the farmers from the village to the farm and back each day. Charlie and I slept that night on the cement school floor, as it was too late to reach Boonchu’s home village. The next day we gave a ride to a couple of leaders from one of the villages. During the ride I had the opportunity to share the gospel with them through Boonchu’s translation. One of them had heard the gospel before from Boonchu and is interested but is waiting for his wife to join him in commitment to Christ.  

Sometimes what happens when the Karen come to Christ is that they get kicked out of the village. There have been accusations that their turning to Christ will cause disruptions to the village with the spirits that live there. The spirits get upset and cause problems, including continual bad dreams, dogs barking in the night, and the death of animals.

The next day we traveled over very rough narrow mountain roads to the village hosting the youth leaders’ conference. I had the opportunity to preach six times over three days on the Five Points of Calvinism (The Doctrines of Grace) and Christ’s requirements for discipleship to 300–400 people, who were mostly youth, a group of seminary students, and some pastors. The people demonstrated joyful dedication to Christ, gracious hospitality, and an enthusiastic desire to reach out to others. 

Boonchu has been very concerned about false teaching that has been coming into many churches, so he has been burdened to bring in sound teaching that upholds the Scriptures alone. On the first evening returning from the conference we encountered a poisonous snake that opened its mouth wide at us, almost seeming to represent Satan challenging our ministry. The second evening, because of rain making the road back to Boonchu’s village impassable, we slept in a pastor’s home on the floor. Unfortunately, two people making the trip that night had accidents. 

After the conference we had a unique opportunity to go with some evangelists from Boonchu’s village on a hunting trip, observing how they live off the land. Boonchu trains evangelists on how to live in the jungle as they travel to remote villages in case there is a breakdown, a road washed away, or an accident. We hunted a couple of birds, a couple of iguanas, and a wild boar, which we enjoyed for dinner and breakfast. The village was very excited to receive this game, as it was shared with the neighbors since there is no refrigeration. 

Boonchu’s ministry is varied and exciting. We were pleased to see what he had done with the resources we had given him in the past. He is a wise steward of the money and consistently gives glory to God for our help. We praise God for such an an excellent and dedicated partner with us in mission and in bringing the gospel to the world in a challenging place. He does so with joy and grace. Boonchu has a lovely family consisting of his supportive wife Seapawn, son Spy, and daughter Melona.

It was a blessing to share in the ministry with Boonchu and the churches among the Karen. Thank you for your prayers and giving which made this conference possible. Continue to pray for Boonchu’s role in the training of 9,000 evangelists, combating false teaching with the truth, bringing reconciliation of conflicts, planting churches in unreached villages, and introducing community development that leads to transformation through Christ.


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