I went to Bangkok for four and a half months from February to mid June 2017. We had planned to go to The Gambia but political unrest meant that it was unsafe for us to go. It was a great bonus to be able to go to Thailand at short notice!
A co-leader (Sophie Harris), and eight 18/19 year olds on their gap years.
We were living in the south-eastern outskirts of Bangkok in an area called Ramsong. There were hardly any westerners in that part of the city, unlike in central Bangkok, and we had two flats. These were about ten minutes walk from our place of work and gave us access to a swimming pool - ideal for cooling off in temperatures that reached 40 degrees!
We were working at a children’s centre called “The Place of Grace” (POG) with Crosslinks mission partners John and Gillian Robinson. They run after school clubs, English classes, youth groups, youth Alpha courses and a food bank. They also have occasional weekends away for the young people in Hua Hin, which is about four hours drive south of Bangkok. The team spent most of their time working at POG. As leaders, we supported them in their work by helping with some of the POG activities as well as teaching and discipling the team members. I led the team through a bible overview, as well as various seminars and bible studies in John’s gospel. After a few weeks the team started to lead studies for themselves and it was encouraging to see them growing in confidence and ability as they did this.
In a city like Bangkok, gospel needs are great, so it was a real help to the Robinsons to have an enthusiastic group to help them do more ministry to the local community. I think it was also a huge encouragement and blessing for them to have some fellow Christians to take some of the strain off them as they serve long-term in Thailand.
For young people thinking of joining a Crosslinks gap team, it’s a special opportunity for getting a real flavour of cross cultural mission, learning about ministry in general, and digging deep into the Bible on a regular basis.
For prospective leaders, the effect is very similar! It was a real privilege for me to do so much bible teaching with the team, to learn more about discipleship and to experience ministry in a different part of the world. For those thinking about full time paid Christian work, leading a short-term mission team like this provides an excellent taster.
Thailand is full of Buddhist temples, complete with various ornate statues and idols. We looked at a fair few of these, which was interesting but also brought home to us the spiritual darkness that the country is in. We also went to the elephant polo tournament in Bangkok, got fully stuck into the Songkran festival in Chiang Mai (basically a massive water fight!) and did some snorkelling off the coast of Krabi.
It was really exciting to study the whole of John’s gospel together, which helped us to appreciate the big themes that John weaves together so carefully. One of the big lessons I learnt was that Jesus is not a Messiah who promises to satisfy our earthly desires and needs, but he does address our spiritual needs - which is ultimately much more important!
We did a “Ramsong’s got Talent” evening amongst the team! Sophie and I pretended to be performing dogs, two of the boys did an exotic Latino dance routine, and the girls performed various Disney themed songs. We also filmed a music video to Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Since U Been Gone’ (the girls’ choice, not mine…). If you’re lucky, I might let you watch it!
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