Persecuted believers’ courage inspires Thai Anabaptists

Nov 3, 2014 by and

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DET UDOM, Thailand — Before Lek believed in Jesus, 10 of his 15 children died. After he became a Christian, his children stopped dying. People in his village noticed.

Thailand Anabaptist conference participants pray for Khmu leaders after worship at a Khmu church. — Sarah Schoenhals/EMM

Thailand Anabaptist conference participants pray for Khmu leaders after worship at a Khmu church. — Sarah Schoenhals/EMM

Lek — whose real name is not given since evangelism is illegal in his country — shared the gos­pel in his village, where several other families became believers.

Soon afterward he was imprisoned for his faith. While in prison, Lek continued to tell others about Jesus. After his release, the church in his area kept growing.

Lek was imprisoned two more times. During these times of suffering, he remained committed to loving his enemies. Prisoners in his country receive only the food family and friends bring them. On multiple occasions, Lek chose to share his rice with the prison officials.

The last time he was imprisoned, Lek was badly beaten and had severe head injuries. The prison officials thought he was dead, but he recovered. Then, the daughter of one of the officials who had imprisoned Lek was sick. The official came to Lek and asked him to pray for her. Lek found it difficult to respond to this request from one who had hurt him badly, but he prayed. The girl was healed.

Stories like Lek’s deeply encouraged those attending the second-ever gathering of Anabaptist Christians in Thailand, Aug. 27-30.

The conference was hosted by the Thailand Mennonite Breth­ren Foundation at the Changed Life Center in Chiang Rai province. About 70 people participated from many churches across Thailand and neighboring regions. Multiple ethnicities, languages and worship styles were represented, including Thai, Khmu and Isaan.

A Mennonite Brethren missionary, P.K. — whose full name is not given since being publicly identified could endanger the Christians he works with — facilitated sessions based on the Sermon on the Mount.

Others shared stories of the persecution they face because of their faith in Jesus. The sharing included both the intense struggle to love enemies and the powerful witness of loving enemies.

Many attendees noted they had heard such persecution existed in the region, but this was the first time they heard directly from those experiencing it.

After the conference, Life Enrichment Church leader Somjai Panta expressed amazement at the perseverance of those loving their enemies, even through extended persecution and torture.

“It shows that whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Jesus will find it,” he said.

In addition to local believers, mission workers attended from Dayspring Christian Ministries International, Eastern Mennonite Missions, Mennonite Breth­ren Mission, Mennonite Church Canada Witness and Virginia Mennonite Missions.

The Changed Life Center is a ministry of the Thailand Mennonite Brethren Foundation.

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