Reinvigorating Faith

Volunteers from across Australia work together with Australian pastor Simon Mackenzie in Thailand.

Pastor Simon Mackenzie was assigned to Thailand as the first full-time missionary in Asia, after being ordained in 2004.

While living and ministering in the Thai city of Chang Rai, Simon was aware of the plight of the Lua’ people in Nan Province, and the need to support this ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thailand (ELCT).
In 2009, after discussions with ELCT and the LCA, it was agreed that Simon and his family would move to the city of Nan, in Nan Province, to work full-time with the ELCT in its ministry and mission among the Lua’ people.

Nan city is situated some 670 kilometres north of Bangkok, and Nan Province stretches up to the Laos border. There are approximately 140,000 Lua’ people living in the mountainous regions of Nan Province, about two hours drive north of Nan city. Ethnically, culturally and historically, the Lua’ people are not Thai. Their first language is Lua’ and they have strong animistic beliefs. Their history and culture have been severely disrupted through war, famine, discrimination and the influence of communistic soldiers.

This was going to be a challenge for Simon – working with a new church, new language, new culture, new people, new beliefs and new environment. ‘The Lua’ people are so receptive’, Simon said. ‘They see in Christ someone who can release them from the fear of “faith in sprits”.’

More than 1000 Lua’ people are now baptised members of the ELCT. ‘What a privilege to be here among these people and see such faith…and see it so alive!’, he said.

This is a first-generation church, so encouragement through teaching to strengthen faith, and modelling Christian life and living are very important. We need to model the way of being a Christian in daily living.’

The LCA supports the ministry and mission in Nan in many ways. The annual mission trips, organised from St Mark’s Lutheran Church in Epping NSW, is vital mission work. Simon King is the volunteer team leader and the program assistant in this ministry program.

‘The annual mission teams are hands-on theology’, said Simon. ‘We love you! We can’t say it in your words, so we love you by doing it in deeds and action.’

The teams have been coming annually to Nan Province since 2009, helping to build roads, houses and preaching places, clearing land and building places for Sunday worship, among other jobs. These practical ways of helping are a godsend for the Lua’ people and the visits speak volumes.

In return, this encourages the volunteers by reinvigorating their own faith. You can help from a distance through prayer, visits, volunteering and supporting the annual mission trips.

This story was also published in the April 2013 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.

If you, your school or your congregation, would like to know how you can connect to the mission of God through a LCA International Mission partnership, you are invited to phone Erin on (08) 8267 7300 or email For more information, go to

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