God’s wonders celebrated at Luther Seminary in Thailand

It was a fourfold celebration that Friday afternoon in the lovely chapel at Luther Seminary Thailand in Bangkok:

  • First and foremost, as this was 24 March, the eve of the Annunciation festival, we celebrated the Archangel Gabriel’s announcement to the Virgin Mary that she would bear the Christchild. ‘For with God nothing will be impossible.’ (Luke 1:37).
  • We witnessed the formal close of the seminary year and the graduation exercises.
  • We thanked God for the 30th anniversary of LST.
  • We farewelled retiring LST Director (= Principal) Rev Visanukorn Upama.

Rev Visanukorn was looking forward to returning to his rural roots in Chang Rai province. His journey has been remarkable. As a young man, he was a Buddhist monk. He married a Christian, but initially he wasn’t interested in her faith. However, he finally longed for relief from the burden of karma and its unrelenting demand for meritorious acts to atone for the misdeeds of previous lives. Now he has found joy and peace through faith in Jesus, the One who has done it all for us. ‘It is finished!’

I was privileged to preach on the Gospel, Luke 1:26-38, with Bishop Banjob Kusawadee as translator. Many Australians will remember Banjob, his wife Monrudee, their son Kevin and daughter Kittykan from their years at Luther Seminary, Adelaide (2000-2005). Banjob’s PhD thesis takes up the theme, ‘Suffering and the cross,’ in relation to the traditional Thai Buddhist understanding of suffering.   Banjob teaches a class on the Augsburg Confession; Monrudee serves as the seminary’s Academic Dean.

Another feature of this festival service was the outstanding youth orchestra that accompanied the singing. These young people come from the school of classical music operated by Pastor Ant’s congregation in a Bangkok slum. Brittany Whitfield (LCA International Mission volunteer) tells the story of her role in this church music school during her stay at Home of Praise last year.

Pastor Ant too grew up in a Buddhist home until he was 14. His father got a job in Singapore where he was converted to Christianity. When he returned home and started family devotions, Ant refused to have anything to do with it for about a year. Earlier his father had treated his mother, himself and his siblings ‘like a Mafia boss.’ What led Ant to faith in Christ was the complete change he saw in his father.

The Friday afternoon celebrations were the culmination of a one-week intensive course on 1 Corinthians which Bishop Banjob had invited me to lead. Teaching the 40-45 participants, with Banjob as translator, was sheer joy. The class included many from the ethnic minority hill tribes. Christine and I loved their reading together in their musical tonal language. We loved their graciousness and sense of humour. With some participants you could be sure, when they rose to ask a question or make a contribution, they would soon have everyone laughing. Most of all, we loved the way, like the Bereans in the Book of Acts, ‘they received the Word with all eagerness.’ (Acts 17:11)

Afterwards the seminary community enjoyed themselves at a three-day Bible camp at a beach-side Catholic centre, ‘Stella Maris,’ several hours south of Bangkok.

We thank God for the LCA’s International Mission partnership in the gospel with our ‘Berean’ brothers and sisters in Thailand.

If you would like to consider the opportunity to serve as a volunteer in mission, serving in practical ways, teaching English, teaching in the seminaries and institutions of our partner churches, or in local churches, you are invited to phone Nevin on (08) 8267 7300 or email nevin.nitschke@lca.org.au. For more information, go to http://www.lcamission.org.au/join-gods-mission/volunteer/

Read more stories about volunteering at http://www.lcamission.org.au/category/join-gods-mission/volunteers/