strength in community

In February 2018, Chris Sumner and Pastor Michael Dutschke travelled to the Nan district in Thailand with Erin Kerber (LCA International Mission Program Officer) to look, listen and learn. Their mission was to discover how we could partner with the local Lutheran church leaders in the Nan district, to give them a hand up with their mission. Nearly twelve months later, Chris and Pastor Michael headed back to the Nan district, along with Jeff, Ian and Tana to asssist with the construction of a hot house on the church farm, and to train the Lua evangelists in prayer ministry to help with their evangelism and pastoral care. Following are some reflections from Jeff.

Upon arriving at Ban Sapan, one got the feeling of inclusiveness, warmth and friendliness from the local people. This remained for the entire stay.

Having Tana with us to act as interpreter was invaluable, but when she was absent, we managed to communicate with signs, deeds and actions and some laughter.

The erection of the hot house, with no directions or instructions, was worked out between us. Some mistakes made, lessons learnt  and each group was taught something new by the other.

On day one, Chris and Tana went to Pau (left at 9.30am) to purchase some equipment, but Chris made a wrong turn (at the first intersection) and what was supposed to be a 2-3 hour trip, saw them return at 4pm, by which time we had worked out how the frame went together and had marked out where the holes needed to be dug. So much for Chris being the ‘supervisor’.

We lunched together at the farm and finished work around 4pm. The Lua workers returned to their villages and the five of us walked back to our house. On day two, Chris suggested we take a ‘short’ walk to a waterfall – only 350m (More like 3,500m). Anyway, fully clothed we entered the water which was like entering an ice bath – and after the initial shock, the water was invigorating. That was our ‘bath’ for the day and clothes washed.

One of the things that I found most delightful was sitting on the balcony each night which was situated above the kitchen, and hearing our two cooks chatting away whilst preparing our dinner, with them often laughing and bursting into song. It was a beautiful sound and again showed the contentment of these beautiful people.

Rice for breakfast, lunch and tea I thought would become monotonous, but these ladies always mixed this with different ingredients providing fantastic meals, especially once you got used to the chilli. Thai food in Australia has a lot to be desired.

The meeting we held on our last day to ascertain what they would like in the future showed a lot of thought on their behalf, and all suggestions would assist the whole community. I look forward to being able to return again to continue this work and enjoy the company of these beautiful people.

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 For more information, go to

Read more stories about our partner churches in Thailand at