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Quest for healing and wholeness in Thailand


October 5, 2004
-by Dan Dyck, from reports


Pat Houmphan (centre) leads in prayer as worshippers prepare for a baptism service.

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Winnipeg, Man.— The human quest for healing and wholeness is universal. And its hopes are expressed in the common denominators of human life: a full stomach, healing from a physical illness, and relief from addictions.

Pat and Rad Houmphan have experienced first hand that basic human need transcends geography. The Houmphans are Mennonite Church Canada witness workers in Borabur, Northeast Thailand. The Houmphans, who work among the native Isaan people, are currently on one year of North American ministry leave in Vancouver where Pat is itinerating and studying.

Pat says that “More than three years ago, the Lord led us to Borabur to start [a] church planting ministry. We began the first Sunday with two believers. The Lord has enlarged and blessed our territory and today a small church has emerged with 60 adults, including children coming to the church regularly.”

Scattered among these new believers are simple but poignant stories of faith. There is Pae, an alcoholic whose marriage to Sone was breaking down. Pat says, “Although Prasane (one of our believers) dislikes him, [Prasane] still would like to share the Good News with [Pae]. On Christmas Eve, Prasane invited him to come to our Christmas celebration.”

Everyone who came participated in a gift draw, and Pae received a box of noodles. Pae “…was asking God to let him get it and God answered his prayer,” he later told Prasane. This simple answer to prayer, said Pae, proved to him that “there must be a God because He knows about [my] needs.” Subsequent ministry visits with Pae did not give skeptical fellow villagers any hope that he could break his alcohol addiction.

But change he did. Comparing Pae to the prodigal son, Pat reports that Pae has become “… a new person; he is no longer drinking. He is well dressed….he has peace and joy. We were amazed with his change. His wife, Sone, was amazed that he became a new man and that led her to begin seeking the Lord, as well. They both stopped quarreling and have become more loving and caring for each other. People in their village were also amazed at their change.” The power of example is not lost on the Houmphans.

Trissadee is an elementary school teacher and the first civil servant to become a Christian in Borabur. Her road to faith was a cautious, one-year journey. At her baptism Trissadee testified of a new happiness and peace in her life, praising God for having overcome recurring laryngitis that robbed her of her voice. Pat says, “We have seen Trissadee grow steadily in her spiritual life; she feels God's call to do His work. She feels the burden to help out with the church activities, to do more evangelism, to share God's wonderful story among her families, neighbors, and her friends at school.”

The Houmphans praise God for the results of their ministry among the Isaan. And they hope to do more. The congregation has outgrown its rented space and has since made a decision to acquire land and build a meeting place. “It’s a big challenge, but we trust in God’s leading,” said Pat.