Stories from the Field, 4 July 2023
How do you start reaching out to an unreached people group (UPG) who have hardly heard the gospel?
Saifon is a member of Wycliffe Thailand who serves and works among an unreached people group in South Thailand. She shared about her efforts to mobilise Thai churches to get involved with cross-cultural missions within their own country.
In the south of Thailand, there are fewer Thais than in the central part of the country. This UPG forms a majority in this region. Most of these people have never heard the gospel. There are very few Christians among this people group, so outsiders must make the effort if this community is to be reached.
Saifon’s effervescent and infectious enthusiasm came through as she emphasised the importance of trusting God when embarking on the “Mission Impossible” of reaching out to a UPG. She acknowledged that it can be hard and difficult, but she continues to pray for God to move in the people’s hearts. She said that our role is to pray and obey, and then “Mission Impossible” becomes “Mission Possible”!
She shared some of the strategies she has used to reach UPGs, especially among the younger generations.
During the Covid pandemic when there were needs within the community, she and some other Christians helped to distribute useful items to the needy. After making friends with a few people, she managed to hold a few Bible studies. However, they had to stop when some of them caught Covid, and the studies were not resumed. They also taught English to the children when schools were closed, until schools reopened two months later. She has also arranged Christmas parties over the past three years. She continues to stay in contact with the friends she has made while looking for other opportunities to reach out to this community.
Through two members of the local church who are from this community, she has helped arrange for a volunteer English teacher to teach in the local school. This is much appreciated by the school and the community. The pastor of a local church also started a soccer club for the school children. Saifon continues to encourage the local church to pray towards eventually planting a church in this community.
3. Social media
Saifon has set up social media channels (website, Facebook, Insta) with materials contextualised for this group. She writes the content, and a group of students helps her with the design and uploading of the materials. She regards this as “broad sowing” of the seed of the gospel, and in 2022, her website garnered 71,000 views!
4. Prayer network
She has also started a website with articles and materials about this group, targeted at Thai Christians and others who have a heart for this UPG. She wants to encourage Thai Christians to pray for the people, and local churches to back this outreach movement. She hopes that Thai Christians will regard this UPG as their “neighbours”.
5. Discovery trips
Saifon has also led trips for small groups to explore the area, meet the people and experience the culture. She hopes that this will encourage them to be more engaged in praying for this UPG and supporting the work among them.
Pray for the local churches to get involved in the outreach to this UPG.
Pray that God will work through the social media channels to reach out to the community and also the churches.
Pray for wisdom as she seeks ways to work with this community and with the local churches.