Monday, October 16, 2006

The Acts Church of Chiang Mai

Long ago we made a decision as a family to set aside every second Sunday of the month to immerse ourselves in Christian Thai culture. The result of this action is our monthly visit to the Acts Church of Chiang Mai. The Acts Church is pastored by Pastor Kriengsak, a pastor of 20 years, with 15 of those years at Acts Church. He is also known as Moh Kriengsak, which means Doctor Kriengsak in Thai. He also happens to be our family doctor.

The Acts Church has included, fortunately for us, English translation in their services. Much to Linda’s delight, there are banner wielders at the front of the church during worship (as seen on the right). She also enjoys the freedom of the worship, which involves expressive dancing, the use of tambourines, and a lot of joyous jumping around. It is a lot freer than most services we've attended in any of the 3 countries we've lived in (Canada, Philippines, and Thailand).

Their services are held every Sunday at a Chinese language school, which is open on week-ends only. This being the case, every Saturday night church members must go over and set everything up for the following day's service. Adding to this hassle, one of the electric guitars used for worship was stolen last Saturday so the musical instruments could no longer be left at the school. They all need to be taken to the church early Sunday morning.

After each service, the church provides delicious lunch for visitors and members alike so once again, chairs are moved around, tables are set up, and then lunch is enjoyed together (voluntary donation for the food is asked for during the service). The ‘lunch set up’ is remarkably done very quickly, even much quicker when the service is a tad longer (hunger driven perhaps?).

The church bought land to build their own place but they are still praying for the building funds to come in. What is both a blessing and a prayer request is that the government has begun excavating earth around the Ping River, due to flooding after heavy rains. The good news is that the excavated earth has been donated to the Church, which will need it to build their building. The earth however, requires transporting, which they also need money for. Currently, they’ve already raised over 400,000 baht, and require just less than a 100,000 baht (about $3,000+ Canadian) more for the transportation of the earth alone. Let's join them in praying for the Lord's provision.

Pastor Kriengsak has indicated to Linda that when and if the new church is built, pictures of the king and queen of Thailand (as seen in top left of photo) won’t be up front and center of the sanctuary as is currently set up (since they use the language school). We do agree with him that the royal couple deserves the respect they receive but certainly not the worship and adulation due a deity that some Thai people give them. To any unbelieving Thai who walks in a church with their can't-miss-reverential-big pictures, it is hard to separate the fact that they are respected but not worshipped there. This change would be a welcome one indeed!

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