But Lord, when did we see you sick… ?

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thailand (ELCT) is reaching out to the people living in the Nan province through healthcare. Nan province is a mountainous area northeast of Bangkok, bordering Laos. It is home to many Lua people, an ethnic minority group in Thailand.

Dr Rovasoa Harivony Razafindrabe (who is from the Malagasy Lutheran Church, serving in Thailand) describes how one project is providing care for the physical and spiritual health of the people in the region.

Our project in District 5 of the ELCT began as healthcare support for mothers and their children. As the mothers live in the mountains, they often don’t have enough quality food to be able to breastfeed their children, so we give milk (for protein, fat and essential nutrients) to pregnant women to support their nutritional needs and those of their newborn children.

The project has expanded now so that healthcare support is being provided for everyone living in the area. Some of the Lua people, who have become evangelists, are also serving as health monitors and providing healthcare training to the monitors has become an important part of the project. All of the monitors are very interested in the training provided.

Each month training is provided about diseases affecting the people in the villages, their prevention, treatments, medications and how to use them according to the needs of the villages and the patients. During training sessions, the monitors will ask about cases they have seen in the villages and learn how best to support people. The training has included ways to support those with liver disease (hepatitis B and cancer), hepatic parasitizes, acute articular rheumatism, gout, back pain, preeclampsia, eclampsia and causes of early miscarriage. Many people living in this region have lung, stomach, bones and articular problems, and there are also gynecologic problems. Some of the villagers are very poor and still have to work even when they are ill.

Monitors go into the villages and check blood pressure for the elders and people who have high blood pressure and require treatment. In the case of endemic diseases, the monitors take temperatures and follow the health of the villagers, especially children and pregnant women. When there is a case of disease in the village, the monitors call for the doctor who will examine the patient and give appropriate medicine. If the patient needs hospital care, they will be helped with transport. Sometimes there will be pregnant women who need to be transferred to Nan hospital during the delivery. We also teach children in the villages (both Christian and non-Christian) about diseases and the simple self-protection against them, to raise awareness.

Patients who go to hospital are followed up with visits, so they continue to be cared for through prayer. We also follow up people when they have returned home.

Some people don’t want to go to the hospital and there can be many reasons for this. Some don’t want to go because of the discrimination that they will endure, some people don’t have an ID card. We help them as much as we can with these problems too.

This health care project is very important for the church because it is an opportunity to bring the love of Jesus to these people through this work. We pray for the sick people to have a strong faith and trust in Jesus. The church is taking care of these people not only in their spiritual life but also with their health in every way. Sometimes non-Christians become sick and ask us to examine them and pray for them. We do evangelism through the diakonia work.

 “God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of Good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do.” Ephesians: 2:10

Many of our partner churches are working in new territory for the kingdom of God; therefore, spiritual attack is their everyday reality. As a member of a congregation, school, or family, or a couple or individual, you are invited to commit to praying for our partners in mission. For regular prayer point updates, go to www.lca.org.au/international-mission/act-now/pray

Read more stories about our partner churches in Thailand at http://www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/international-partners/thailand/