As we struggle through Bangkok traffic, it’s clear Bishop Chanda can’t wait to reach our destination – the infamous Khlong Toei slum. When he graduated from seminary, he prayed that the Lord would call him to serve a ‘nice’ congregation in a good area. Instead, he was called to serve in the slum. He now […]
As we struggle through Bangkok traffic, it’s clear Bishop Chanda can’t wait to reach our destination – the infamous Khlong Toei slum.
When he graduated from seminary, he prayed that the Lord would call him to serve a ‘nice’ congregation in a good area. Instead, he was called to serve in the slum. He now thanks God for this call, which taught him about truly serving. He loves the slum because he loves the people there.
Bishop Chanda Saiyotha, or ‘Ant’ as he prefers, is the newly elected bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thailand (ELCT). Bishop Ant’s wife Pranee Saiyotha works at Immanuel Music School which reaches out to children from the slum, and they have a 13-year-old son.
In a Christian-minority country, Bishop Ant leads the church with a good understanding of the challenges of reaching out to the Buddhist majority – he himself is a convert from Buddhism.
‘I had never heard about Jesus’, he says. ‘Life was difficult in our village and my father had to move to Singapore to earn enough money to support our family. There he heard the gospel from the Thai Good News Centre, which is run by the Lutheran Church in Singapore. When he returned home, he began sharing his newfound faith with me and my mother.
‘When I heard that, I was very angry with my father. Everybody in my village was also against him. But my father didn’t give up, he prayed for me and my mum and continued sharing the good news of Jesus.
‘One year later, God opened my eyes to see my father clearly. I asked myself, “Why has my father changed? Before he was an expert drinker, a very bad guy and didn’t care about his family. Now he is very patient, gentle and loving his family”. This made me open my heart to learn about Jesus.
‘After that, my mum and I were baptised. Now, we are a Christian family and many people from my hometown have turned their life to Jesus. It was the Holy Spirit who acted in my heart. This led me to commit my life to be a servant of Jesus Christ.’
Walking through the slum, Bishop Ant stops at every second house to greet people and ask after their families. Many are still Buddhists, and he knows the journey to faith can be long. But he also knows it brings true peace and hope and so, even as bishop, it’s his delight to be in the slum pointing people to Jesus.
As we drive away, Bishop Ant smiles and tells me he is happy to be known as the ‘Slum Bishop’.
This story was also published in the November 2022 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.
Many of our partner churches are working in new territory for the kingdom of God; therefore, spiritual attack is their everyday reality. As a member of a congregation, school, or family, or a couple or individual, you are invited to commit to praying for our partners in mission. For regular prayer point updates, go to www.lca.org.au/international-mission/act-now/pray
Read more stories about our partner churches in Thailand at https://www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/international-partners/thailand/