Thailand faces challenges

By December 19, 2008

(MNN) — Abhisit Vejjajivaa was chosen to be Thailand's new prime minister this
week after months of political unrest. He faces serious challenges as he
seeks to unify the country and reinvigorate the economy. 

In November, protestors occupied Bangkok's main international airport for
several days, shutting down domestic air travel as well as international air
travel for the entire region. Innovation manager for Book of Hope, Wayne
Brown, and his wife were in Bangkok during the unrest. 

"My wife and I were actually attempting to get to the
airport on Wednesday morning, not realizing how serious the situation had
become," recounted Brown.  "One of the
hand grenades was launched about two blocks away." 

Brown and his wife were able to return safely to their hotel. Overall, he said, the protests were not very
violent. A few people were killed, and
more than 50 were injured. 

"There was a mildly violent response from some opposing
political groups," explained Brown. "Other
than those few scattered instances, the protests were very peaceful. And the protestors, while heavily impacting
travel in the country…they were trying very hard to maintain a peaceful element
of civil disobedience for their cause." 

Book of Hope's ministry was able to continue as usual despite the unrest. Even when the prime minister
declared a state of emergency, the declaration only impacted the areas
immediately surrounding the airports.

"The schools were not closed; there was no special
prohibition on travel in those other areas that would have impacted anyone,"
Brown reported. "And our work with the
church up in Nong Khai, where we're doing a new program with the GodMan, has
continued to progress as our plans have been laid out."

Book of Hope is piloting a new method of distributing the
Book of Hope and the GodMan film in Nong Khai. Typically, church volunteers distribute the books and show the movie to
many people at large scale events. Now,
Book of Hope is experimenting with distributing the movie directly to

As it experiments, Book of Hope is trying to "still make
sure that the presentation of the Gospel…is a ministry presentation, that we're
able to effectively share who Jesus Christ is, and why the folks who are
watching the movie need to know and have a relationship with Jesus Christ,"
Brown said.

"I do believe that we're going to find that…the outcomes of
this are as good or better than the outcomes we see in an event-based showing,
and that this will become a model that gets used…[in] many other places around
the world where it's more difficult to do event-based activities." 

Brown believes that the recent unrest is leading the people
of Thailand
to be more receptive to the Gospel. 

"Especially among young people, young adults, and young
families, there is a real hunger for understanding what there is in life," he
said. "There is an attitude of
receptiveness, and there are a lot of questions. And I do believe that this offers an
opportunity to be able to share with people in Thailand, who Jesus is, and that
true hope and true peace comes through Him.  

"It doesn't come through one political party, or another, or
through one prime minister, or another, but it comes through a relationship
with Jesus Christ."

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