Ordained in 2004 after studying at Australian Lutheran College (ALC) in Adelaide, Pastor Simon Mackenzie was assigned to Thailand as the first full time missionary in Asia, for the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA). While living and ministering in the Thai city of Chang Rai, Simon was aware of the plight of the Lua’ people […]
Ordained in 2004 after studying at Australian Lutheran College (ALC) in Adelaide, Pastor Simon Mackenzie was assigned to Thailand as the first full time missionary in Asia, for the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA). While living and ministering in the Thai city of Chang Rai, Simon was aware of the plight of the Lua’ people in Nan Province, and the need to support this ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thailand (ELCT).
In 2009, after discussions with ELCT and the LCA, it was agreed that Simon and his family would move to the city of Nan, to work full-time with the ELCT in its ministry and mission amongst the Lua’ people. Nan city is situated some 670km north of Bangkok and Nan Province stretches up to the Laos border. There are approximately 140,000 Lua’ people living in the mountainous regions of Nan Province, about two hours drive north of Nan city. Ethnically, culturally and historically the Lua’ people are not Thai. Their first language is Lua’ and they have strong animistic beliefs and practices. Their history and culture have been severely disrupted through war, famine, communistic soldiers and discrimination.
This was going to be a challenge for Simon – working with a new church, a new language, new culture, new people, new beliefs, new environment – this is what Simon calls living on the edge. Simon is now the Pastor for the Ban Napong congregation, the Ban Hoey Pong preaching place in the mountains and at the Rubber Tree Plantation in Nan city, where Lua’ people have had to find work, due to harvest failures at home. “The Lua’ people are so receptive. They see in Christ someone who can release them from the fear of ‘faith in spirits’”.
Since 2004, there have been over 700 baptisms amongst the Lua’ people. Today, in the ELCT the Lua’ people number more than 1000 baptised members. “What a privilege to be here amongst these people and see such faith and see it so alive” said Simon, “this is a first generation church, so encouragement, through teaching to strengthen faith, and modelling Christian life and living, are very important”.
The LCA supports the ministry and mission in Nan in many ways and an important one is the Annual Mission Trip organised from St Mark’s Lutheran Church, Epping, NSW. Simon King is the volunteer team leader for these events. “The Annual Mission Teams are hands on theology”, said Pastor Simon, “we love you, we can’t say it in your words, so we love you by doing it in deeds and action”.
The teams have been coming annually to Nan province since 2009, helping to build roads, preaching places, houses, clearing land and building places for Sunday worship, amongst other jobs. These practicalities are a godsend for the Lua’ people and the visits speak volumes; we stand beside you as Christian brothers and sisters, you are valued, one body, together as one in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The LCA can help, from a distance through; prayer, visits, volunteering and supporting the Annual Mission Trips.
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/