Buddhism has its roots in India, but today is most widely practiced in Southwest Asia and is the overwhelmingly dominate religion throughout Thailand. Theravada Buddhism, believed to be the oldest surviving branch of Buddhism that most closely follows the teaching of the original Buddha, is deeply entrenched in the culture and beliefs of the Isaan people of northeastern Thailand.
In 2017 we began partnering with a church planting team to share the Gospel with the Isaan people. To reach Buddhists, who pursue enlightenment through knowledge and insight instead of believing in a supreme God, our partners have been producing and airing a series of evangelistic radio programs called “Life’s Answers.”
Over time our partners have expanded our Isaan language media outreach to include discipleship-oriented radio broadcasts called “Walking with God” to help believers grow in their faith, and programs called “Joy at Work” that consist of believers sharing their testimonies and talking about the integration of faith and
work. Video versions of our Isaan radio broadcasts are being produced and posted on social media and YouTube to reach even more people with these impactful messages. It would seem logical to expect this variety of programming being made widely available through diverse outlets to inspire many to respond, but the Isaan people seem to be taking a very cautious approach towards Christianity. However, God has been using those who do respond to open the door for the Gospel to take root in their homes and communities as evidenced by the following account from The Tide ‘boots on the ground’ in Thailand.
N heard the “Life’s Answers” program, though the signal was not too clear, and contacted our team who then visited her and gave her a media player so she could listen to the programs more clearly. The team continued visiting N monthly to encourage her, give her a New Testament, and load new programs onto her media player. They also called N weekly to pray with her and discuss what she is reading in the scriptures. During one of their visits the team talked about Christ with the N’s brother P, who became interested in learning more about Jesus and began reading the New Testament. N and P are now baptized believers who are growing in faith, openly sharing their faith with others, and hosting a weekly house church at their home!
Recently, P was invited to participate in a live radio broadcast to share how his life has changed for the better since coming to know Jesus. Unfortunately, on the way to the radio station he received the shocking news that his mother was in the ICU at the hospital. Our team went to visit P at the hospital later that day and walked in just as his mother passed away. Because this is a rather poor family, an affiliated larger city house church provided significant financial support for the funeral. Our team also had strong church representation at the funeral. Although the funeral was Buddhist and held in the temple, P clearly told the rest of his relatives that he and his sister N were Christians and would not be able to participate in the Buddhist ceremonies. His relatives received this well, and it was a great opportunity for them to see the change in his life and the love of Christ through the church family. Our team took Christian booklets that sensitively and thoughtfully address the topic of life and death and eternal life and were written specifically to share with people at Buddhist funerals. Their intent was to have them available on a table for anyone who wanted to take one, but P’s niece invited the team to pass them out to all the guests at the funeral. Our team leader in Thailand exclaimed; “That was the first time I have ever handed out Christian literature inside a Buddhist temple!”
We praise God for what He has done, and continues to do, through The Tide team in Thailand. We invite you to join us in prayer for the ministry, as well as financially support the effort. May God be glorified as souls are changed all around the world through your generosity.