BY BRENDA KIŠ
The radio program in Surin, Thailand, was languishing. No one was keeping up with the programming and anyway, the internet was attracting more attention. The few Surin church members were folks from the countryside and every Sabbath the pastor, ASAP medical missionary Sompong Khunsawang’s husband, had to drive some 100 kilometers to pick up and return home the scattered members. Sompong decided that city people needed to hear this message, too. Gathering church members in support of radio outreach, they created a Facebook page for their program. Soon people were listening from around the world. As listeners requested materials, the church members sent out pamphlets on religion and health. A local Protestant church even donated Bibles to distribute to interested listeners!
Then the members began planning a local health outreach. They spent nearly three months in advance visiting people and using natural remedies and massage to reach their hearts. Then they invited their new friends to the church to clear a garden plot and plant vegetables. These they shared and taught the people how to eat healthfully. Exercises in the church courtyard were offered, as well. They informed their friends that dentists from America would be coming to help them with any of their dental issues. With all this preparation, it was easy to invite these city dwellers to the meetings to learn about health and how God wants to bless them.
The church could hold 200 people and everyone had to register in advance. But 300 people registered for the three-day program! What an opportunity to get names and contact information for post-meeting visitation. As a result, the church members learned about family needs, peoples’ jobs, and so on. Small groups were formed and new gardening methods were shared.
One lady named Nit had cancer of the intestines and liver and needed chemo treatments and surgery. However, she learned about NEWSTART at the health outreach and Sompong encouraged her to “Come trust in God and make the changes you really need for long-term health.” Then she took Nit to her home after surgery and cared for her scar area, giving her ginger and carrot juice to drink. These were things straight from the garden! Eventually, Nit stopped eating meat altogether and the doctor was pleased with her progress. She was so grateful that she shared with her neighbors that “the seventh-day church takes care of your health!” When she asked what she could do to express her gratitude, Sompong told her to just keep sharing.
Another health program drew an additional 200 people and resulted in nine baptisms. Now Nit was saying, “I don’t know how much longer I will live, but how can I serve God?” This time Sompong invited her to share on a radio program. “But I don’t know how to speak,” Nit said. “Never mind,” Sompong told her. “Let the Holy Spirit prepare you. You can share from some books.”
All this has resulted in a piece of land, once intended for a cemetery, that now grows vegetables and a dream to someday build a sanitarium there. Even the government enthusiastically approves of what is happening. Three announcers currently work for the radio station, and church members as well as others listen to the programs. People are spreading the word! And Nit says, “Now I’m not afraid to die.”