Tuesday, 22 May 2018
Coach Mhee lives in Thailand’s Esan region in the northeast, where Buddhism is strong and drug addiction destroys lives. Through his sports ministry, local boys develop their soccer skills and hear the life-changing Gospel of Christ.
Equipped with a soccer ball and the Good News, Coach Mhee is successfully keeping 25 boys away from drugs and despair. But it’s not easy. The Esan region is one of the hardest places to minister in Thailand. Church planters work in the area, but it is vast and one-third of Thailand’s 68 million people live there. So Gospel workers are spread out and quite isolated.
The locals are strong-minded and many are very committed to Buddhism and folk beliefs. The few Christians put their hope in the Lord and they persevere, knowing they won't see much fruit. Coach Mhee, the only Christian worker in the area, is compelled by the love of Christ to share the Gospel. But he needs fellowship and encouragement.
That’s why he’s thankful for the Sports Friends staff who visit him and his soccer team. Sports Friends, a ministry launched in Thailand in 2008, helps churches in South East Asia use sport as a tool for evangelism, discipleship and church planting. Sport attracts young people, and makes it easy to build relationships. Bridges are built, barriers are crossed and opportunities arise to share God’s love.
When Sports Friends puts on a Saturday day camp, children from all over the area attend. The team trains them in soccer skills, shares gospel stories and testimonies, and engages them in a competition. Equally important, they invest time in discipling, mentoring and encouraging Coach Mhee. Their support, and his passion for making Christ known, helps the committed coach to persevere. “No matter how hard the work, partnering with God is fun!” he says.
Mhee comes from a village close to the Laos border. Born into a Buddhist family, he grew up following his family's way. But in his early twenties he came to faith and felt called to mission when he visited a Christian sister living in the US. When he returned to Thailand, he enrolled in seminary. There he met the woman who would become his wife – she too wanted to be a cross-cultural missionary.
After finishing their studies, the couple served for 13 years with a church-planting team in Chiang Mai. During this time, they regularly visited the place where Mhee grew up. As they spent time with his family, they saw a great need for the Gospel among the people. And they sensed that the Lord was asking them to move back and do His work. They’ve been back in Mhee's home village for two years now. There they run outreach ministries, host a small house church called "Home of Hope", and are committed to holistic evangelism and discipleship.
Mhee has never received a pastor’s wage. He works his land to live sustainably in the farming community. Although he helps his neighbours as much as he can, his focus is working with children and teenagers in the Sang Khom area through English and sports ministry.
He has a beautiful vision to evangelise and disciple Thai youth through sport, a vision shared by Sports Friends. He wants to send young people out to live as Christians throughout the country, believing that they have the potential to make a big impact on Thailand.
Of course, many young people will leave the area to further their education without accepting Christ. But Coach Mhee is not discouraged. He’s content to plant gospel seeds and keep his eyes on the goal, hoping that one day the boys he coaches will put their trust in Jesus.
Sports Friends is running their CAMPaign throughout the month of May. Your gift of $65 will send one young person to camp. Could you send one more young people to camp to hear about the life-changing news of Jesus? Click here to find out more!
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