Today we leave for Bangkok, Thailand to support the ministries of the House of Blessing. Our Thailand Go Team is all set to go, and we are looking forward to continuing the friendships that were established 2 years ago with an earlier Go Team.
Team members include (from left to right) Madison Lian, Pastor Bill MacDonald, Jeanne Fries, Curtis Fries, Denise Atkins, Aaron Espy, Krista Ostrander, & Beth Burgess
We are excited to learn more about the House of Blessing and the ministry Pastor Soonthorn began so many years ago. Here’s a bit of history from Nikki Davidson, our Go Teams Coordinator.
More than 20 years ago, a young seminary student named Soonthorn Soothorntarawong began visiting prisoners with an older pastor and friend. When a small group of prisoners finished their sentences at approximately the same time, Soonthorn invited them to his church to continue building on some of the things that they had been learning in the Bible studies that he had helped to leading. Much to his dismay, the pastor and elders of his church actually asked the recently released prisoners to leave the worship service because of the severe stigma that they brought on the entire congregation. He was told that “if the prisoners are here, other people will not come to our church to hear about Jesus” The same scenario repeated itself in other churches, so one day, the newly minted Pastor Soonthorn used his own money to rent a room and started a church “where all are welcome – prisoner or free.” The church quickly outgrew its rented room and eventually grew into the House of Blessing.
Today, the House of Blessing continues to provide numerous worship services where all are welcome – including those who have served prison time. The complex also includes a 1/2 way house for young men who have recently been released from juvenile prison, vocational training and classrooms, and an orphanage for children of incarcerated women. The House of Blessing also provides weekly programming and encouragement for the churches within the prisons and the Bible studies that inmates have initiated.
In addition to supporting the staff at the House of Blessing, we will be helping hold church services inside several Thai prisons, halfway houses, and juvenile detention centers. There we will get to worship with brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as hear more about how the Lord is working ½ a world away.
Also, several of our team members will provide training on Celebrate Recovery and how CR Inside (prisons) is run. We anticipate learning much from our hosts and are excited to extend the hand of friendship from our community here to the community there.
Please join us in praying for our time in Bangkok, the House of Blessing, and the work the Lord is calling us into. Thank you for your prayers!
Beth Burgess (Assistant Director of Missions) on behalf of the team