Thai Church Sees Unprecedented Baptisms Despite Global Pandemic

Thai Church Sees Unprecedented Baptisms Despite Global Pandemic

The Free in Jesus Christ Church Association (FJCCA) of Thailand performed the single largest baptism in Thai church history on Sept. 6, baptizing 1,435 people signifying their commitment to Jesus Christ within two hours, according to Reach A Village Ministries.

In the last four years, FJCCA has become the fastest-growing Christian church movement in the majority-Buddhist country’s history.

In early 2020, Thailand became the first country outside of China to report a COVID-19 case, leading many to believe that widespread infection would cripple the Southeast Asian nation. Yet eight months later, Thailand is being applauded for being one of the few countries to effectively contain the virus, celebrating 100 days of zero locally transmitted coronavirus cases at the beginning of September.

“It is truly a mystery to the world as to why Thailand has been spared during the COVID pandemic,” said Bob Craft, founder and president of Reach A Village, which supports FJCCA. “We believe it is the merciful hand of God to allow the Gospel to spread at this crucial time.”

FJCCA’s approach has resulted in a shift in Thai church planting efforts. Rather than relying solely on Western missionaries, FJCCA trains Thai men and women to become “disciplers.” They then go out and share the Gospel with villages all around the country. The disciplers continue to meet with people in a village until a leader from the community is able to effectively pastor a stand-alone village church.

In December 2016, the FJCCA had fewer than 20 churches; now, it’s more than 770.

And on Sept. 6, 20 pastors lined up across a water reservoir in Chon Daen to baptize people from 200 villages in five Thai provinces.

But baptism isn’t the end of FJCCA’s ministry. Pastors and church planters make sure to follow-up with each new believer after returning home.

“We have their name; we have their picture; we know where they live; we know what level of discipleship they’re at,” said Dwight Martin, research coordinator for the National Church in Thailand. “Our numbers are real, because there’s real people behind them.”

Although the Thai church has been experiencing explosive growth, Martin says there is still much work to be done. He estimates that only 6% of the villages in Thailand have been reached in the last 192 years, leaving 75,000 villages in need of the Gospel.

But he has hope that the revival happening in Thailand right now will continue.

“Maybe in my lifetime I’ll see every village reached because of what I see going on,” said Martin.

Photo: Courtesy of Reach A Village

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