Thailand Vision QuestAsia Pacific
On November 1, 2023, eight members—five laypeople and three ministers—from Central Assembly of God, Springfield, Missouri, boarded a plane for Thailand. Missions Pastor Don Tucker organized this trip, assisted by Family Ministries Pastor Josh Seaman. None of us knew what to expect over the next 10 days, but we would be in for an amazingly informative, inspiring, and life-changing experience.
A core value at Central is to leave a “God-sized footprint” in the world. In addition to supporting missions with prayer and finances, establishing a footprint also involves personally traveling to help missionaries. At least once a year, Central strives to initiate a “Signature” Global Footprint trip.
When seeking direction for this year, Pastor Tucker’s thoughts fell on Thailand. Central already had connections with Change the Map, headed by missionary Mark Durene. Change the Map desires to raise 50,000 intercessors to help reach the Buddhist/Hindu regions of the world. Thailand is in the middle of those regions.
After Central had planned this trip, Pastor Tucker learned about a recent initiative at Assemblies of God World Missions—the Buddhist/Hindu Priority. Pastor Tucker, along with Mark Durene, attended a meeting in Washington, D.C. that introduced this initiative. Change The Map will provide the intercessory prayer base for the Buddhist/Hindu priority. Pastor Tucker states that, for Central’s team “this clearly was a strategic call and confirmed what we’d been feeling all along that God was leading us to Thailand.”
This journey would be different from many short-term missions trips. The focus was not on holding scheduled meetings, constructing buildings, or engaging in various projects. In describing our group as a “Vison Quest Team,” Pastor Tucker states, “We were going on a quest to find and receive a vision for what Central Assembly and we as members could do to make a difference in this part of the world. We knew we were coming to pray. But not only were we coming to pray for Thai people and Thai churches and the things that impact this nation, we were coming as eight people with our eyes open, and our hearts open to discern what God would have us say and do to respond in a positive way.”
After landing twelve time zones away from home, the team immediately engaged in looking, hearing, and learning. During our time in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, we connected with pastors, prayed with 12 different missionary units, prayer walked through eight temples and shrines, and spoke in three different churches. It was a special joy to connect with our amazing missionaries, to meet national pastors, and experience exuberant and joyful worship in their congregations. Following the various encounters, we debriefed and prayed together.
During tours of temple sites and shrines, we understood the reality of spiritual oppression; yet most noticeable was the prevailing sense of emptiness as countless people observed endless rituals. There was a conspicuous absence of joy, celebration, or praise; such a contrast to the wonderful church services we experienced.
Mark Durene, in his book, Change The Map, states, “Today, up to one billion Buddhists throughout the world are meditating, making merit, spinning prayer wheels, prostrating, chanting, lighting incense, and striving in a myriad of other ways to save themselves. It is futility, ‘for by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight’ (Romans 3:20).”
In a report to Central Assembly on December 17, Pastor Tucker reflected on our time with local congregations stating, “In each church we worshiped and prayed and fellowshipped with Thai believers. We prayed over people and witnessed others declaring their faith through water baptism. In the process, we fell in love with the believers in Thailand. And, while there, God’s Spirit began impressing on us that all the central elements in that country are setting the stage for something spiritually significant in Thailand and throughout the Buddhist world.”
In the coming months, a clearer sense will unfold regarding our role as a church in having a huge and impacting footprint across the Buddhist world. An immediate and vital key to this role is prayer—concerted, strategic intercessory prayer. Please join us and many others in this endeavor.
Thailand Vision Quest
By John T. Maempa