Thai Baptists rally behind Filipino brothers and sisters in Christ
    March 7 2014 by Caroline Anderson, IMB

    BANGKOK – Despite political unrest permeating their own country, Thai Baptists have looked beyond their borders to show compassion to victims of Typhoon Haiyan. The disaster left a trail of death and destruction through the Philippines last November.
    “We want to tell [Filipinos], they are our brothers,” said Thongchai Pradabchananurat, president of the Thailand Baptist Convention. “When our brothers suffer, we suffer. When our brothers are sad, we are sad. What we can do for our brothers, we will do.”
    Photos and videos of lost lives, homes and livelihoods after Haiyan’s devastation stirred the hearts of Thai Baptists to give $10,000 towards relief efforts in the Philippines, said Pradabchananurat.

    IMB Photo by Lily Jameson
    A picture of the Virgin Mary and a New Testament are displayed by a family among the destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan in Ormoc, Philippines.

    After watching news coverage of the typhoon’s aftermath, Pradabchananurat said the convention quickly sent word to Baptist churches throughout the country requesting donations for storm victims.
    As a result, the donation will be given to Baptist Global Response – committed to long-term recovery and rebuilding in the Philippines.
    Churches, large and small, responded to the call to give. Some small churches gave $50, while others gave from $100 to $500.
    “Anything we can do for them we will do,” Pradabchananurat said. “It’s our joy. Our Thai people, Baptist Thais, they have become more generous. They are not rich, but they gave.”
    The disaster reminded him of his nation’s own tragedy a decade ago due to a deadly tsunami.
    A 2004 tsunami struck southern Thailand, killing more than 5,000 and causing millions of dollars in destruction.
    “We used to suffer, we used to be victim,” Pradabchananurat said.
    Typhoon Haiyan struck during the midst of a political crisis in Thailand. Pradabchananurat said the crisis temporarily diverted the attention of Thai Baptists and delayed the convention’s response time, but it didn’t keep Thai Baptists from giving.
    James White,* an International Mission Board (IMB) worker in Southeast Asia, said he was inspired by the generosity of Thai Baptists.
    “My initial reaction [to the $10,000 donation] was, wow, this is just another sign that our Thai Baptists are maturing in Christ and they want to be kingdom-minded, world-minded believers,” he said.
    “They are stepping up and looking outside of themselves…realizing they need to be a blessing outside of their borders,” White said.
    White was in a convention meeting with Pradabchananurat when the typhoon hit. The Thai leader asked White where they should send financial assistance.
    White recommended the convention donate to BGR, a Southern Baptist international relief and development organization and a key ministry partner of IMB.
    “Once the news cycle has become weary, some of these groups leave. Baptists don’t do that,” White said.
    BGR and U.S. Baptists committed to long-term recovery projects in Thailand after the 2004 tsunami.
    Pradabchananurat said Thai Baptists desire to be God’s hands and feet and give generously to those in need.
    Pradabchananurat said Thai Baptists didn’t forget the generosity and kindness extended to them by U.S. Baptists. When Thai Baptists heard of the July 2013 devastating tornado in Oklahoma, they donated $6,850. Thai Baptists also responded financially to disasters in Japan, Missouri and Myanmar.
    “Because of this kind of spirit, the churches in Thailand are growing,” he added.
    Pradabchananurat said Thai churches started really growing after the tsunami in Thailand. Partnership and cooperation between Baptist churches in Thailand also increased as believers and churches banded together to help their country.
    Church partnerships extended to Japan, Myanmar, Oklahoma and Missouri as Thai Baptists came alongside their fellow Christians during their times of crisis.
    “We began to grow through that time,” said Pradabchananurat, explaining that much of the growth in Thai Baptist churches has been among lower income individuals.
    The Thai leader said it has been historically difficult to reach the middle class of Thailand. However, in recent years, Baptist churches have been growing and more middle class Thais have become followers of Jesus Christ and they’re able to give more to their churches.
    “They want to be a blessing to people outside of themselves,” said White. “That is a sign of growth and maturity.”
    *Name changed
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Caroline Anderson writes for IMB from Asia.)
    3/7/2014 11:48:46 AM by Caroline Anderson, IMB | with 0 comments
    Filed under: disaster relief, Thai Baptists, typhoon

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