Missions

New building marks growth of Thai church

Jun 2013    
The new building of Sanphranet Methodist Church, amidst surrounding rice fields. – Methodist Missions Society picture.

WE WERE LOST! The driver had taken a wrong turn. After a phone call, we were back on track. Then we arrived. There in the cool morning air, Sanphranet Methodist Church (SMC) stood tall, towering over the rice fields and surrounding houses.

The Rev Philip Lim, Executive Director of the Methodist Missions Society, and myself were in Chiangmai, Thailand to attend the dedication of SMC’s new church building, which replaced the venue they had previously rented.

Our anxiety from getting lost soon dissipated when we were greeted by warm smiles and graceful wais. (A wai is a Thai greeting that consists of a slight bow, with the palms pressed together in a prayer-like fashion.) The gentle tinkling of traditional Thai musical instruments completed the picture of simple joy and celebration as members and friends mingled.

Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup, his wife Mrs Catherine Wee and leaders of the sponsoring Charis Methodist Church (CMC) were present, including their Pastor-in-Charge, the Rev Helen Hoe Chiew Ngin. Mr Utai Luechai, the Chief Officer of the Chiangmai City District, and the Rev Kiat Laksanasakulchai, the Chairman of the Evangelical Fellowship of Thailand (Northern Region), also graced the occasion. More than 130 members, friends and invited guests were present.

The dedication service began with a welcome speech by the Rev Henry Yeo, Deputy Country Director of Mettakij Church Association, an arm of The Methodist Missions in Thailand. This was followed by an appropriate hymn, “How Great Thou Art”, and prayers of thanksgiving were offered. Six young girls from Sanphranet performed a celebratory Thai dance. Their gentle swaying was mesmerising.

The service ended with the act of dedication and a prayer, conducted by Bishop Dr Wee. As the guests of honour cut the ribbon, loud applause rang out and broad smiles beamed from the faces of all who were present. Later, a tour of the church was conducted for the guests.

Then lunch! A simple but sumptuous lunch it was. More importantly, you could feel the genuine warmth and joy of all as we shared a meal together.

SMC was founded by the Rev Yeo and his wife, Mrs Sungwan Yeo (Tuk). In November 1998, CMC in Singapore adopted SMC and its work, including the funding of the new church building. The faithful and loving support of CMC has undergirded the growth of the Thai church. Gradually, SMC members responded, and today the church is a witness to God’s goodness and love.

A kindergarten operated at another site provides needed child and educational care for the children of a number of families. An after-school care.

WE WERE LOST! The driver had taken a wrong turn. After a phone call, we were back on track. Then we arrived. There in the cool morning air, Sanphranet Methodist Church (SMC) stood tall, towering over the rice fields and surrounding houses.

The Rev Philip Lim, Executive Director of the Methodist Missions Society, and myself were in Chiangmai, Thailand to attend the dedication of SMC’s new church building, which replaced the venue they had previously rented.

Our anxiety from getting lost soon dissipated when we were greeted by warm smiles and graceful wais. (A wai is a Thai greeting that consists of a slight bow, with the palms pressed together in a prayer-like fashion.) The gentle tinkling of traditional Thai musical instruments completed the picture of simple joy and celebration as members and friends mingled.

Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup, his wife Mrs Catherine Wee and leaders of the sponsoring Charis Methodist Church (CMC) were present, including their Pastor-in-Charge, the Rev Helen Hoe Chiew Ngin. Mr Utai Luechai, the Chief Officer of the Chiangmai City District, and the Rev Kiat Laksanasakulchai, the Chairman of the Evangelical Fellowship of Thailand (Northern Region), also graced the occasion. More than 130 members, friends and invited guests were present.

The dedication service began with a welcome speech by the Rev Henry Yeo, Deputy Country Director of Mettakij Church Association, an arm of The Methodist Missions in Thailand. This was followed by an appropriate hymn, “How Great Thou Art”, and prayers of thanksgiving were offered. Six young girls from Sanphranet performed a celebratory Thai dance. Their gentle swaying was mesmerising.

service is also offered. A yearly average of 40 scholarships for children, amounting to TB150,000 (S$6,000), has been provided since 2001. Donations have been given to community projects and even the Sanphranet Hospital. Members participated actively in these projects.

Truly, SMC is continuing to heed the call of the Great Commission to make disciples.

PRAY * for the leaders and members of Sanphranet Methodist Church to continue being candles for God in Thailand.

Jimmy Tay is the Chairman of the Thailand Executive Committee of Mettakij Church Association.

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