At the hostel I put on the activity board: “Tired of seeing wats? Want to know about Christian worship in Thailand? Join us at 10am for a thirty-minute walk to the oldest church in northern Thailand.”
We told those eating breakfast in person, but, understandably, most had plans for the day. However, seeds were planted. (Several asked us about the adventure the following day which gave us another opportunity to speak Christ.)
Our GPS led us to the back of the church where the property was enclosed with a high cement wall. We heard singing, activity, and even the bells ringing out. I stuck my head through the decorative opening to ask how to get in. I felt like the barking dog that we saw yesterday.
I could see the driveway through an opening across the way. Rob and I scurried around to the front and arrived as the service was already underway. The church was beautifully situated at the top of stairs and open on all sides.
Prior to entering, we were greeted by an usher and given English translation headsets. We signed a guest paper that gave our information and our country of origin. Later in the service he read the names and places of visitors. We stood, bowed, and were welcomed with applause. There were other visitors from South Korea, Peru, and USA.
This was the most Western church that we have seen on our travels. It had a grand piano playing and accompanying us with familiar hymns…and we sang all the verses! We sang in English and the local congregation read the Sanskrit and sang in Thai.
There were the familiar wooden pews. Pastors wore long black robes with colored stoles.
Prior to the service we all stood and prayed together asking for forgiveness. I liked this. Come clean in order to hear from the Lord!
This was followed by the Apostles Creed and The Lord’s Prayer.
I thought that the pastor did a good job of explaining the Parable of The Good Samaritan. Luke 10:25-37.
And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
The Good Samaritan
Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”
It is imperative to use pictures for children and anyone else who doesn’t speak the language or has a hard time understanding.
The pastor explained about all three travelers and asked which traveler was the best: #1, #2, or #3. Everyone said #3. He followed up with “Which traveler do you want to be?” “#3.”
Then he followed up with a current example of this type of traveler. A man was in a bike race when somebody in front of him fell. Instead of finishing and winning the race, he stopped and helped him.
The pastor closed with a prayer. He asked them to get their hands up. I liked that but wasn’t sure if that was a translation.
He thanked the Lord that they wanted to be #3. It also reminded me of I Am Third from my younger days. It could be used here as well.
Then the pastor said a relevant Bible verse and asked them to repeat after him.
God bless the kids. They are the future. Next the children stood up and sang an anthem. We were asked to clap for them as they skipped out of the sanctuary.
Scripture: Matthew 9:35-38
We stood for the reading of the gospel which is standard practice in churches to give honor and thanks to the Word of God.
Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.
We pray for the servants gathered here. Stay with us as we pray to stay with you, Holy Spirit.
The Lord has provided. He is faithful, and we give all glory to God.
We are people of the New Testament and responsible for the next generation. God gives us all the things that we need, especially Jesus to help and rescue people. It requires dedication and sacrifice.
We understand what He did and His example. The goal is for the souls of the lost to be brought into the Kingdom of God.
We don’t want to be like the scribes and Pharisees. We have new life from Jesus.
The will of God is to proclaim the Good News of the kingdom. There is a crowd of sheep without a shepherd.
A former pastor of 24 years who is now appointed as the hospital chaplain will be speaking today.
This first Christian church in northern Thailand is 153 years old. It was established for education, healing and mission of God.
People who were doing the the will of God have died in northern Thailand. They accomplished much. We love the feet of those who brought good news. Schools, hospitals, and medical facilities followed.
In 1867 Daniel McGilvary brought medicines. An American gave $10,000 in 1948 to build. We desire servant worship and to do as Jesus did.
The Prince of Thailand studied medicine in USA. When he returned, he worked in Chiang Mai hospital. He was here only 21 days. He wanted to return but died in Bangkok on Sept 24, 1929. The Prince of Thailand wanted to help the people of the world, especially the poor who will always with you. When he saw the poor, he felt compassion.
Thank you for those from age 7 to 78 who work and volunteer at the 132-year-old McCormick Hospital of Chiang Mai.
Offering: Trust and Obey
We sang the Doxology. There was a benediction, and then we sang a final hymn entitled “Lord, Let Us Now Depart in Peace.”
The most fascinating word of the day was when I spoke individually with the lead pastor who told me of amazing Christian history in northern Thailand in the late 1800’s. It was part of Laos, and the work was called the Lao Mission.
The pastor said that the King of Chiang Mai went to visit the King of Siam in Bangkok and met a missionary called Daniel McGilvary (which is SO hard for the Thai to pronounce). The King of Chiang Mai invited him to come. He traveled here by boat, and it took four months. The King gave the land that the church and school are built on. He did not convert but felt it was good luck to make this land donation.
Daniel McGilvary stayed in a bamboo hut near the river. The Thai people came to see and hear this curious man. They had never seen a white man. They had never seen people eat with a fork and spoon. They only used their hands.
He had a globe and told them about other countries and where he came from. They came every day to hear him talk about geography and stars. Of course, he told them of the love of God that can wash clean.
This is a powerful answer to the Buddhists. Buddhists rightly know that they are sinful. However, they feel that nothing can be done about it.
The head monk listened intently about the love of Jesus. How He died for sin and extends forgiveness to us when we make mistakes. Whether we make one mistake or 1,000 mistakes, there is forgiveness.
The monk was searching for the answer. How can I be freed from sin? There was no answer. Then he was introduced to the answer, Jesus Christ.
The missionary explained the science behind the eclipse which dispelled the Buddhist teaching of a giant eating the sun.
On the next eclipse on 17 August 1868, he invited the monk to please come and see for himself. He set up water in a bowl. When he saw the eclipse, the monk exclaimed,”This is true. God is true.” He was the first Christian convert in northern Thailand, and this had a huge impact on the rest of the people here. He resigned as a monk as did his two Buddhist monk sons.
He had seen the light. God was proved with science. In the West a Christian is often challenged by science.
Thanks to be God!!
This wonderful story is recounted in the book, A Half Century Among the Siamese and the Lao: An Autobiography by Daniel McGilvary
I have downloaded this book to read on my kindle on the long trip to North Carolina. I really want to know more about how best to interact with a culture different from my own…and combine my science background with my faith in Jesus Christ.