The Bangkok team is known as Santisuk Partners (Santisuk means ‘peace’ in Thai). The team works with a network of slum house churches and a Thai foundation (www.thaipeacefoundation.org), whose mission is to form a sustainable, indigenous movement committed to contextualized, holistic church planting among the urban poor of Bangkok.
Widespread corruption, racism and a social infrastructure that cannot cope with the influx of migrants all contribute to urban poverty in Bangkok, and very few people are working with the urban poor there. More than 95% of the population identify as Buddhist, although most really practice a syncretistic mix of Theraveda Buddhism and animism. A sense of fatalism inherent in the Buddhist/animist belief system often keeps the poor trapped in their poverty. Thais are not generally hostile to other religions, and a number of ministries have recently seen a marked increase in receptivity to the Gospel, particularly among young people.
Our team works in partnership with local Thai leaders, as they live in the slums they are serving, learning the language and culture from their neighbors. Team members serve in various roles in their local house church and in the foundation. These may be as varied as Bible study leader, administrative assistant, community organizer, children’s program facilitator, business consultant, or others. What they share in common is the desire to incarnate Christ’s love as they witness to those around them. What they long to see is the transformation of their slums as God’s Kingdom comes.
Bangkok Site Video:
Currently there is a house church network comprised of five house churches in slum and low-income communities. Servant Partners team members are living in two of these slums and serving alongside Thai leaders. They seek to live out the Gospel among their neighbors, disciple Thai believers into a walk with Jesus that changes their communities, and facilitate empowering ministries in the slums. Key strategies include community organizing, discipleship and leadership development, children and youth outreaches, prayer and evangelism. They launched a multi-national internship in the fall of 2011 training Thais and non-Thais in community-based ministry and development while deepening individual spiritual growth. The end goal is for all of these ministries and churches to be Thai-led, contextualized and spontaneously reproducing throughout Bangkok and beyond.
The team is led by Kevin Walton, who has lived in Bangkok for almost 20 years along with his family. Kevin helped plant the initial church that birthed the current network of slum churches. There are four additional team members, with backgrounds in public health, sociology, women’s studies, physical therapy and other fields. The team rhythm involves weekly strategic meetings, two retreats per year outside of Bangkok, fun team events, prayer and fasting.