Thailand Trip, Part 1, Bangkok: On June 7 our team from the Stockholm Vineyard arrives in Thailand, and from the very start we are not only confronted with a new culture, but also a church culture that challenges and encourages us in many ways.
Sukit, the leader of the Bangkok Vineyard meets us at our hotel and takes us to their building at the entrance of Klong Toey, one of the largest slum areas in Asia. There is no sign indicating the name, or the fact that this a church. Inside, there is a number of activities on the three levels of the house that is in dire need of renovation. On one level live a number of young men from broken families, and on another level live several women that had been rescued from a lifestyle of prostitution and addictions. In another room we hear the sounds of music, as one of their young musicians gives guitar lessons to a number of teenagers.
Sukit meets with us in another room to talk, and he explains to us a bit more what they are doing in this area ruled by spiritual darkness and hopelessness. We have come to encourage him, but it soon becomes obvious that he is the one challenging and encouraging us. There are no fancy methods of evangelism but simply an expression of God’s love and His Kingdom. As he explains his simple faith in the unfailing love of Jesus for all mankind, he again and again picks on one of us and says, ”What do you think?” And he is not satisfied with vague answers, but keeps probing deeper and deeper, forcing us to come to grips with what really is deep in our hearts.
One of his young leaders has joined our conversation, but is called away to the next room to pray for someone. Within minutes we hear the sound of crying and wailing from one of the girls. Soon she is joined by others and we realize that the Spirit of God has just fallen on the music class – the Kingdom had come! Sukit acts like nothing happened and this is just another day in Klong Toey.
On Sunday we join their meeting, and this looks a bit more like the Vineyard we know, until Sukit gets up to ”preach”. Again, he interrupts his teaching with questions and draws out answers from the audience. Soon there is a lively discussion going on, with lots of laughter while snacks are being passed around, and Sukit finishes his talk while chewing on a seaweed bar.
The ministry time looks a lot like ours with everyone praying for everyone, but there is one slight difference: Everyone in this ”church” has been trained to prophecy, and they serve each other as well as us freely with words from the heart of God.
I leave Bangkok with a mixture of emotions, inspired, humbled and the nagging question, ”What do I think?”