Nestled on a small side street near Bangkok’s city centre, Immanuel Baptist Church’s triangular white rafters soar above its elaborate glass-panelled façade and double wooden doors, welcoming people inside to worship. On the same property, a second structure, nicknamed ‘The Great Commission Building’ or ‘Matthew 28 Building’, houses OM’s head office in Thailand—a testament to senior Pastor Winit’s whole-hearted endorsement of Jesus’ call for all believers to make disciples. “Our church’s ultimate goal is our motto: Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and go make disciples of Jesus among the nations,” he said.
Although important, it’s a command he believes is challenging for many Thai churches to obey. “They have too many excuses such as: ‘We have few believers. There are still lots of people who do not know Christ in Thailand. How can we send people out for mission while we are still one of the unreached?’” he explained.
But the biblical record of the early church in Antioch (Acts 11:19-30) provides a compelling precedent, he continued. At a time when early Jesus followers had been scattered due to persecution, the Church did not hesitate to send two of its strongest believers to a place where the gospel had just been introduced to a new group of people: the Greeks. Because of the church releasing its members, the good news spread. “Why can’t we do the same?” Pastor Winit wondered.
Obeying God’s command
Donating office space to OM in the church’s building in 2016 was not the first time Pastor Winit generously supported the organisation. He initially encountered OM when its ship Logos visited Bangkok in the ‘70s. He remembered serving alongside the vessel’s visit by suppling some food and funds.
Already invested in sharing God’s love with others, Pastor Winit said: “Before I encountered the Ship Ministry, I was saving up some money to buy a van in order to drive around Thailand and bring the good news to people….I was so impressed and touched, I remember giving all the savings for the van to the Ship Ministry, hoping to be part of sending good news to the world!”
That financial investment sparked additional involvement, as the church subsequently sent a few of its members to serve on board Logos and her sister ship, Doulos. After a while, interest fizzled, and Pastor Winit admitted almost forgetting OM and its ships until around nine years ago when Rev. Woody Kim, who was leading OM’s work in Thailand at the time, visited him. “He challenged me to raise up Thai leaders and send out people into mission,” Pastor Winit said.
Pastor Winit accepted the challenge, and, in 2012, his church resumed sending people out to share God’s love as well as providing them with prayer and financial support. Soon after Immanuel Baptist sent three church members to serve on another OM Ship, Logos Hope, God provided the new building. “When we obey Him, this is how God shows His faithfulness to me and the church. He gives us what we need, and it is such a blessing,” Pastor Winit said.
The church’s provision of office space has helped the OM team practically. Located in one of the many popular tourism districts in Bangkok, the offices—occupying the entire fourth floor of the church’s second building—are easily accessible by public transportation, which has been conducive for hosting visitors, conducting meetings and providing training and orientation for Thai believers ready to move overseas.
However, Pastor’s Winit’s support is equally integral to furthering God’s work because “he doesn’t just teach by word but by action,” said Lynchee Buakham, who currently leads OM’s ministry in Thailand and is, herself, a member of Immanuel Baptist Church. Additionally, the church supports another of its members, Adith Lekuthai, currently serving on board Logos Hope.
“Those who had been mobilised and sent out, came back to mobilise more people to be involved in mission,” Lynchee explained. And Pastor Winit “continues to mobilise boldly whenever he has an opportunity to speak at a pastor’s fellowship or to speak to different communities of Jesus followers.”
“If we commit to Matthew 28:18-20 and do it faithfully, people will see the whole church moving towards the will of God,” Pastor Winit said. “But if we do not obey the command of the Lord, we won’t be able to see the Church moving towards God’s purpose both on an individual level and a community level.”
Sharing God’s love
Personally, Pastor Winit understands the importance of sharing God’s love with people who haven’t heard it—especially in other countries. When he was around five years old, Harriett Orr Lennon, a foreign Jesus follower who had recently arrived in Thailand, complimented him in the Thai language. “Her kind words moved my little heart. It was so powerful and a strong foundation for me until I became a Jesus follower,” he shared.
Seven years after Harriett “planted the seed of love in my heart,” Pastor Winit said a Thai pastor, Suk Pongnoi, led him to Christ, “and I decided to accept Jesus Christ into my life.”
Back then, he shared his testimony with his friends. Today, he spreads God’s love by teaching the Bible corporately, leading Sunday school and preaching. “But I think the most effective way is personal evangelism, by having one-on-one deep conversations with a person and sharing our experience with God,” he said.