—2 Timothy 2:2 (NIV)
“Which God Are You Talking About?”
“When you begin talking with Thai people about God, a common question is, Which God are you talking about?” That’s how SIM Thailand Director Ryan Hannah describes the challenge of ministering in Southeast Asia—where Christian teaching is almost unknown.
For people steeped in a Buddhist worldview, the notion of a loving God is unfamiliar, and many have trouble grasping the gospel message. “With less than one percent of the Thai population being Christian,” he says, “many do not know a Christian. Many do not live in a community with a church.” As a result, Thais may live their entire lives without hearing the gospel.
Another obstacle is the spiritual bondage of animism that has a strong grip on this region. “It may not be immediately obvious,” Ryan says, “but the population has regular contact with the spirit world that is not part of God’s kingdom.”
These challenges may seem daunting, but, thanks to your support, SIM missionaries go into cross-cultural ministry well prepared. “SIM has good requirements for its missionaries both in terms of biblical knowledge and cultural understanding,” Ryan says. That makes for good relationships and lasting commitments.
And that’s how God’s kingdom grows.
The Power of Patience
In cultures where Christianity is unfamiliar, communicating the gospel can take time. “You have to be really patient,” says Chris Stark, missionary in Thailand, “and you go through lots of times of discouragement.”
But perseverance pays off. Chris recalls one young man who had attended a Bible study for more than four years without responding to the message. Then—just last year—he suddenly announced, “I want to be a Christian!”
There are others like him. One young mother has been attending services for two years with her daughter. She requests prayer regularly but is not yet a believer. The group is confident that she’ll eventually respond to the truth and love of God. After all, they’ve seen it happen before. As Chris says, “You never know when that guy who has been coming around for four years will come to the Lord.”
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.”
—2 Timothy 2:24 (NIV)
God, please . . .
- Inspire, encourage, and strengthen the men and women serving You in difficult places
- Open the hearts of those who hear to receive You
- Provide strong leaders and good teaching for the new church
- Send additional qualified people to lead and plant churches