Indigenous believers get a helping hand from Southern Baptist workers

By May 3, 2013

Thailand (MNN) — In Thailand, Southern Baptist missionaries are helping indigenous believers fulfill their callings.

The International Mission Board says Scott and Alyssa Branding* bring Christ to migrant factory workers in southern Thailand. The couple hails from Alaska and has served in this region for over a decade.

They fulfill their part of the Great Commission by bringing Christ to migrant workers from neighboring Burma, in fish factories and on rubber tree plantations.

They've also come alongside the work of two native Christ-followers. One is a church planter from Burma, the other a Thai medical worker. The Brandings are helping these believers bring the Gospel to their people.

Though the region's 2.5 million Burmese workers were mostly unreached when the Brandings arrived, a migrant church formed as the Gospel began spreading among factory workers. Simon David, a Burmese believer, started working with the Brandings several years ago.

Now David leads the growing migrant church, which recently moved into a cement structure through its members' gift offerings.

"We started by house church, and when they wanted to have a building, we rented one," David recounted to the Baptist Press (BP). "Then, we bought chairs one-by-one as we had the money."

This blossoming community proves vital to migrant workers and their families.

"In the workroom, there are about 30 laborers, and I am the only Christian," a young woman who works in a squid processing plant told BP. "My supervisor is unkind and often abuses authority.

"As we gather at church, people pray [for me] and offer encouragement."

Another believer helped by the Brandings is Wasana Moonsiti, a Thai believer who ministers to the Moken people. Commonly known as Sea Gypsies, the Moken are semi-nomadic sea dwellers who make a living by fishing and gathering shells.

"I pray for Jesus to come into their lives and [let them know] that we have hope in Him," Moonsiti tells IMB.

Each weekend, Moonsiti travels by boat to the Moken village, toting boxes filled with snacks, food, medical equipment, and Bible stories. Having worked in medical missions for 16 years, Moonsiti uses these tools as a catalyst to share the Gospel.

Along with attending medical needs among the Moken, Moonsiti teaches them how to live safely on land.

"I teach them about hygiene and how to protect themselves against diseases by keeping the village clean," says Moonsiti. "I teach them what to eat [on land], like growing vegetables and raising chickens."

Friends since 2004, Alyssa Branding regularly helps Moonsiti with her ministry to the Moken.

"We may not have the same calling," Branding tells IMB, "but it is still important, as a believer, to help Wasana reach those she is called to share with."

Pray that these connections will spread God's Word in Thailand.

* — names changed for security reasons

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