In America, more than 70 percent of the population identify as Christian. In Thailand, however, less than 1 percent make the same claim. And it’s into this context that Silk W. has chosen to dedicate her life and ministry.
Since 2009, Silk has served with BIC U.S. World Missions, working alongside a team of church planters to share the gospel with those living in rural villages in northeastern Thailand. We met up with Silk to hear more about her ministry as she prepared to begin a new term of service.
Q: Hi Silk! First, tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a Thai who grew up in Thailand’s capital city, Bangkok. Growing up in a Buddhist family, I was the first believer in my family and this was very challenging. I praise God that my mother and three siblings are now believers. I continue to pray that my father and other two siblings will commit their lives to Christ.
I serve with BIC U.S. World Missions planting and supporting house churches in the northeastern region of Thailand known as Isaan. Thailand is a country of 67 million people with roughly one-third (23 million) living in the Isaan region. The country is predominantly Buddhist, and in Isaan, it’s really more of a folk Buddhism with animism (spirit worship) mixed in.
Q: What led you to pursue missions work in Thailand?
Originally, I worked in business. However, after five years, I knew the highest calling on my life was to lead others to know Jesus and disciple them to disciple others. I sensed God clearly calling me to full-time Christian service, and I first started working in Bangkok with a campus ministry among university students.
Then in 2008, God led me to study in Mechanicsburg, Pa., at Global Awakening School of Ministry. It was during this time that I connected with BIC U.S. World Missions. Upon returning to Thailand in 2009, I began serving with the BIC U.S. World Missions church planting team.
Q: While more than 70 percent of Americans would identify as Christians*, this percentage is much lower in Thailand. How does this impact your ministry?
Missionaries have been in Thailand for almost 200 years, yet only 0.6 percent of the population identifies as Christian. This number drops to less than 0.2 percent of people who identify as Christian in the Isaan region, where our team serves. Thailand is a country that has been slow to respond to the gospel. Evangelism is difficult as the folk Buddhist religion has such a stronghold among the people. Our friends who come to faith often suffer family and social opposition—even persecution.
But through God’s leading, we now have three house churches in villages where there were previously no Christians in the entire country! We have also started a ministry in a fourth village and have two house churches meeting in the city.
Q: Tell us more about your ministry with these house churches.
Well, for the past seven years, our team has led a monthly prayer gathering for pastors and missionaries in our province. This is to build unity across denominations, churches and organizations, and to intercede for our province and nation.
Two house churches currently meet near where we live. At every house church, local believers help lead the gatherings. Everyone from children to adults take part in leading various parts of the services, and it’s incredible to see the community bond this creates.
Two of the house churches are actually led completely by local leaders. We meet with these leaders weekly to encourage and disciple them.
Q: What encouragement would you share with those interested in pursuing missions work?
It is important to know your calling and depend on God in every situation. Missionaries are on the front lines, and spiritual warfare is all around us. There are times when we’re engaged in battle and times when we need to rest (daily times with God, weekly Sabbath, etc.). This allows the Lord to fill our cups which, in turn, enables us to pour into others. We need to have a lot of love and power to endure every hardship and to see fruit. And this comes from the Holy Spirit.
Q: How can we be praying for you, the communities you support, and Thailand in general?
Please pray for the people of Thailand right now. The much loved King Bhumibol Aduyadej recently passed away on October 13, at age 88. He was the king for 70 years and was highly respected for the many good things he did to help the nation develop and improve quality of life. This is a great loss for the Thai people, who viewed him as the father of the nation. Pray that the Thai people would come to know God as their Father.
Please also pray:
- For me to rest, be refreshed, and filled to overflowing
- That I would be in close relationship with God and not allow myself to become dry spiritually
- For my entire family to know Jesus as their Savior and walk closely with Him
- For our local believers to love God, each other, their families and communities—and desire to share the good news with them—and for them to be strong in their faith despite the opposition and persecution they may encounter
- For our local believers and house churches to be fruitful and multiply: Our vision is to see a church-planting movement begin among the Isaan people
- For our team to be sensitive to God’s leading and to be filled with joy despite the spiritually oppressive environment
*According to a PEW study in 2014.
Originally published as “Serving the least of these in Thailand” for BIC U.S.’ October 2016 Connect newsletter.