I recently took a trip back to an area where we first started in Thailand.
I was able to connect with three young Thai ministers who I consider friends and see what was happening with their ministries since I left. Two of these guys have planted simple rural house churches and I was able to spend time with these fellowships again as well. I preached at two simple city church meetings on Sunday
I was also able to connect with a new couple who are pioneering in village outreach and working house church planting. I was so blessed to have the opportunity to see God work among the people as we went out together.
In some recent study and research I have found that there are two key factors that Thai people say caused them to come to Christ. No, it wasn’t a strong lesson in theology or even a convincing arguement.
It was a tangible experience with either the love of God or the power of God (go together don’t they?).
This came, many times, through the prayer and ministry of others. From these experiences, if someone was present to interpret the experience for the person affected, they were able to come to know Christ, surrender to Him, and know Him more through the Word of God and teaching.
While working with my new friends in the villages and thinking through some of these things, I was more convinced than ever of a few points that I want to share with you:
- We must go to the people rather than expecting them to come to us. This takes determined & consistent effort.
- We must go bringing something Spiritually tangible: “such as I have give I to you.”
- We must be bold to pray for every sick person in Jesus’ name and expect healing by faith
- We must be willing to release the prophetic word over people thus bringing them exhortation, encouragement, and comfort in their suffering and pain.
- We must understand that it is the “goodness of God that leads men to repentance.”
- When Jesus went about “doing good”, he healed all who were oppressed of the devil because God was with Him.
- We are to do good to “all men and especially those of the household of faith.” To me this means healing the oppressed.
- When families come to Jesus, we must not extract them from their community and put them into a “Christian bubble” but teach them how to thrive as witness there where they are most needed and join their community often.
- There are already groups formed in villages, they are called “families”, and they have already been meeting together for years. We just need to introduce them to Jesus and teach them how to obey Him in their own contexts.
- Most Thai villagers hardly ever travel to the next village over, much less go travel into the city, unless they really need something. Most Thai villagers work from sun up to sun down, 7 days a week, in certain seasons. They live hand to mouth many times and fuel is an expensive luxury.
- Is it realistic to think that the majority will clean up, put on their best clothes, drive all the way into the city, and attend a meeting that is more Western than it is Thai?
- We must help new believers meeting in house churches to understand they they are not second class citizens to those who go to churches in the city. They must learn how to recognize those who would like to come and co-opt them into a “real” church. (which many times has been 30 people for 30 years).
- We need to help build the people up in their confidence and boldness by recognizing not only who they are in God, but who God is in them. Because the Holy Spirit of the living God lives inside of us, we must believe that we are the most powerful person an unreached person has ever met!
- My new Thai friend demonstrated this by her boldness in prayer. She is Thai (associated with meekness), but also of a different DNA. She knew that the Kingdom of God is within her!
- My new friends didn’t start out with a big strategy. They started out by being available and meeting a need when they saw it. They prayed for a sick village woman in Jesus’ name who was made well and this was their beginning. Now they already have five groups they regularly follow up.
- Anyone can be trained to facilitate a house church meeting until the time that elders can be raised up and recognized. The outsider shouldn’t be the one who is always leading or this will definitely stunt the group’s growth.
- The greatest challenge to house church planting that anyone in this context will face is moving from addition to multiplication. This deserves our greatest focus in the months and years ahead.
- More than anything, we need more laborers using the simple strategies of “praying for the sick”, “every disciple makes disciples” and every family is a potential “church” that plants other “churches.”
Here are some other thoughts displayed in pictures:
Below are a couple of videos showing what a more “polished” training & house church meeting could look like in Thailand. The participants are real house church leaders. (Thai w/ English subtitles that are “off”)