Somphon and her mother received a tract in a nearby city and became Christians – the first in their village. Somphon’s husband, a rice farmer who struggles to read, soon followed. Concerned for their village, the family built a simple church on their farmland and invited neighbours and friends to hear the Good News.
The church started to grow, but there was no pastor and no nearby church to support them. So Somphon and her husband faithfully sought to teach the new believers each week.
Unbeknown to Somphon, a number of years earlier, a small number of academic scholars had the opportunity to study PhDs in theology as part of the Langham Partnership set up by John Stott. They committed to return to Thailand to serve the Thai church. Six years ago, three of them gathered together a small group of church leaders with the same passion for the faithful preaching of God’s Word. Johnny is privileged to be a part of this Thai-led Langham team.
Initially, Langham Preaching – one of the international ministries of Langham Partnership – provided them with experienced trainers from Australia. But as they studied the materials, the Thai team also discussed the specific challenges of training preachers in a Thai context, knowing that soon they themselves would be the course leaders.
In 2017 the Thailand team ran its first Langham Preaching course. In a beautiful resort south of Bangkok, 45 pastors and church leaders met. Somphon’s family were there. It was a transformational moment in their lives. Somphon wept with joy at the end of the conference. She had received the training she desperately longed for! She had tools and resources to take back to their small church on the rural eastern seaboard.
“Churches live, grow and flourish by the Word of God, and they languish and die without it” – John Stott
For a number of years, the team have run annual conferences to train pastors and lay-leaders. Bi-monthly preaching clubs have been developed in Bangkok. Johnny was particularly excited one evening to meet with a group of young men all preparing their next sermon. Sent from a well-established church in Bangkok, they drive 240 miles each weekend to support a fledgling church plant in one of the poorest and least reached regions of Thailand. All are working full-time and have young families but are committed to learning to teach God’s Word faithfully to others in less privileged circumstances.
More recently, Langham Literature has supported the translation of materials into Thai to be distributed at discounted prices. These books help pastors and lay-leaders to understand the passage and apply it to their Thai congregations – for many Langham Training participants, their first theological resource after years of preparing sermons with a Bible and daily Bible reading notes. Giving each conference attendee the latest publication for free is a bonus in supporting Thai churches.
Our third Langham conference was in July. We pray that many Thai believers are equipped and enthused to take the Word of God back to their churches. We long for the day when these conferences will reach every region in Thailand. The need is great. The workers are few.
Johnny & Ann McClean
Johnny & Ann work in outreach and pastoral support with students in Bangkok, and Johnny is part of the Thai Langham Team
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