“That will never happen here.”
The famous last words, “That will never happen here” has been proven wrong over and over again. I have found God loves to bring our doubt filled statements back to our attention years later. Over the past 300 years the Buddhists of Thailand have curiously watched as wave after wave of missionaries arrived upon their shores, but still Christianity represents less than 1% of the Kingdom’s population. There have been a few glimmers of movements in the past, however most of these movements were shipwrecked for one reason or another.
In recent years there have been tremendous harvests among Chinese, Tribals, Catholics, Orthodox, Hindus and even Muslims but the worlds 700 million Buddhists have seen only a small trickle of new disciples. Although there are millions of Christians in Buddhist countries the vast majority of these believers are tribal or Chinese meaning they are not from the majority Buddhist peoples. In most Buddhist dominated countries, the Buddhist Background Believers are the minority of the Christians. This is not the will of God. Truly the Buddhists are one of the remaining giants in global evangelization.
In 2009, Sister A. attended an international conference in Thailand. At this conference she made a new friend, Sister J. Sister J., a native of another Asian country, reported the stories of thousands of new baptisms and disciples she was training in North East India. Sister A was amazed and impressed by her friend’s vision and success. As Sister J. showed her new friend the leadership flow chart based on 2 Timothy 2:2, Sister A. asked, “Do you think God could do this among my people here in Thailand?” Sister J. enthusiastically replied, “YES!” Sister A. was introduced to Sister J.’s CPM trainer, Bro. B., who serves the Full Gospel Church.
Brother B. learned the Church Planting Movement process a few years earlier from two people from another Asian country before. He immediately started to implement the CPM principles in North East India. As Brother B.’s trainees like Sister J. started to witness the power of God multiplying hundreds of new churches in India, Sister A. and her husband invited Brother B. to train their members in Thailand. The Full Gospel Church is located on the outskirts of Bangkok.
Five members of the the Church were trained to put the CPM process into practice. Most of the church’s members are not directly involved in starting new churches but they all give to support the burgeoning movement. Church members provide funds for training trips all over Thailand. I had the honor of being chauffeured in what they called their “CPM taxi”. Brother B continued to train this small team of disciples for a period of six months while he trained leaders around Asia and Africa. In Jan 2010, God started to confirm His strategy based on Luke 10 with hundreds of Persons of Peace receiving baptisms in Kamphaeng Phet province. The movement then quickly spread to Khorat and now encompasses work in 14 provinces.
In the first year Sister A. and her husbands’ CPM teams saw 500 baptisms and this number has grown to 4,500 baptisms by February of 2012. This is happening among the Thai Buddhist majority. Many of these streams have multiplied to the fourth generation and the Buddhist Background Believers are reporting many miracles. The gospel is presented in a way that fits the Buddhist Worldview and therefore is easily reproducible. Sister A. shared with me how her trainees are proclaiming the gospel among Buddhists, “Christ is the only one who can set us free from the effect of Karma. He has the power to forgive our past, present and future karma as well as deliver us from the power of Satan.” Hundreds of these new Buddhist Background Believers are baptizing new Persons of Peace. Sister A’s trainee, Sister G, is one of the 3 million immigrant Burmese of Thailand and has returned to neighboring Myanmar to start house churches there.
In February 2012, I visited Full Gospel Church for the fourth time in the past two years. I was amazed to hear story after story of church members (lay people) multiplying networks of house churches all over Thailand. One of the church members, Sister Z., was moved as she told the story of an elderly Thai man who was suffering from diabetes. This man was a very sincere follower of the Buddha but was open to receive prayer from his Christian medical doctor friend. This doctor is a trainee of Sister Z. After sharing the truth of Christ’s power to remove Karma this elderly man prayed to receive Christ. Sister Z reported that he later phoned her doctor trainee with the news that he had been healed and wanted to receive baptism and more training about Jesus. Another trainee at the Full Gospel Church declared the truth about her King
Jesus, if you try to hug our Thai King you would be pushed back by many soldiers, but with King Jesus He wants you to hug Him and draw close to Him.
Praise the Lord that so many Buddhists in the Kingdom of Thailand are being swept up into a new Holy Spirit inspired move of God. I have been so encouraged to meet Sister A. and her husband and to hear their first generation trainees reports. This is truly a significant work of God in the Buddhist World. I know this is a significant move of God because I am seeing similar patterns in Myanmar. Since 2004 my Burmese Buddhist Background trainee-friends have seen over 700 new churches started among 6 Unreached People Groups with 8,500 + baptisms.