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Cow lending project off to a good start in Thailand


December 05, 2003
- Dan Dyck

Pat Houmphan visits a family that is benefiting from the cow lending project.

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Rad and Pat Houmphan prepare to lead worship music with other members of the ministry team. Jadet is playing the electric guitar. Grandpa and Grandma Nah, evangelist on the team, flank Jadet.

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Borabur, Thailand/Winnipeg, Man.— In Thailand, $5500 goes a long way.

With the seed money from a partner church in Henderson, Nebraska, MC Canada workers Pat and Rad Houmphan in Borbur, Thailand, are moving a local church toward self-sufficiency while helping local farmers. A church committee of local Isaan people coordinates the project. They have already purchased 12 cows which have been lent out to believers. Recipients keep the first and third calves, but the second calf and the mother are to be returned to the project.

Being a completely rural church, isolated from urban employment possibilities, the people of the Borabur and Ban Dang churches have quite limited incomes. Having so few resources makes it difficult for the church to support a pastor, pay for a church building, or provide transportation for children coming to Sunday School. Pat is excited about the income generating potential of the cow lending project as a first start in gaining financial security for the church.

Other pieces of this ministry are falling into place, too. Pat now works with an energetic young seminary graduate. Jadet Kampansri fits well into this ministry because of his musical skills, personable nature, and the fact that he himself is Isaan and knows the local culture. Pat is hopeful that Jadet will stay on for the long-term. An elderly evangelist known as Grandpa Nah continues his half-time ministry in the Borabur area.

Houmphans relate to believers in numerous villages with two main meeting places in Borabur and Ban Daeng. Two baptisms were celebrated in Ban Daeng last Easter Sunday, but Pat says growth in both churches is slow.

“Very few (Issan people) are practicing believers. They will say, ‘I am Buddhist, my parents are Buddhist, so we are just Budhhist,’” Pat said during a recent visit to Winnipeg. Buddhism has a lot of good teaching, but it’s a theology of helping one’s self, he adds.

“(There are) two main things that I use to tell them (about Christianity). In Buddhism, there is no talking about creation. It’s very important that we address that, the creation story. Secondly I tell them about Jesus Christ. In Buddhism, there is no Lord and Saviour.”

Despite the local economic difficulties, and slow growth, the Houmphans are very clear about their vision: they hope to establish a group of churches in each of the 7-10 surrounding districts over the next 20 years. One way to do that, says Pat, is to show the Jesus movie.

“Issan people don’t like to read, but they love to watch. The Jesus movie is helpful.” In the near future, Pat hopes acquire an LCD projector – an aid that will allow him to use visuals in bringing the gospel to the Issan people of Northern Thailand.

Pat and Rad Houmphan (Bethel Mennonite, Langley, B.C., and Grace Mennonite, Regina, Sask.) are ministry workers in Thailand. They receive financial support from MC Canada.