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*Breaking News* Mennonite workers in Thailand okay despite civil unrest in Bangkok


April 14, 2009
- Dan Dyck

WINNIPEG, Man. — Pat and Rad Houmphan report that they are safe and that their ministry among the Issan people in Northeast Thailand is progressing well, despite news reports of civil unrest and violence in the capital city, Bangkok.

In an email correspondence on April 14, Pat wrote, “While the most recent violence and protests in Bangkok have not reached this region, there are some general related problems in Northeast Thailand. Many of those in the Red Shirt group are Isaan people. The most troubled region is in Udon province, about 3 hrs away from us. Nonetheless, we have not been affected by this in Borabu or in Mahasarakham province.”

The “Red Shirt group” is a reference to the activists in Bangkok currently attracting world attention.

The Thai economy is also suffering from a recession, reports Pat. Thousands of people have lost jobs due the recent political and economic crises. The current political unrest “… will make the economy worse, especially the tourism industry,” he said. “Personally, for now we do not feel any fear as the most recent violent occurrences have been isolated in Bangkok. Nonetheless there is a concern that the airport could be shut down again,” he added.

The Houmphans recently returned from a medical mission foray in rural Thailand and across the border into Laos. “Although we encountered some difficulties and obstacles,” he writes, “things are going smoothly. We were able to build a good relationship with the Lao Evangelical Church as well as the Lao government.” Dr. Dolores and Murray Logan of Grace Mennonite Church (Regina, Sask.), together with their son Andrew, Dr. Tim Wiens and nurse Ethel Wedel (First Mennonite, Newton, Kan.), and Dr. Wendell Wiens (Faith Mennonite Newton, Kan.) comprised the medical team.

“Please continue to pray for the Prime Minister and the government [of Thailand] to have the wisdom to handle this crisis,” wrote Pat. “Pray that the crisis will be resolved through peaceful talks and reconciliation. Pray for the Thai economy as well.”