Last Saturday, we went to Pattaya with Pastors Jerron and On (they are assistant pastors at Pradumri UMC in Chon Buri at the present time and will be the new pastors at Bo Win UMC when it opens in 3 weeks. We went with them to go on visitation with some of the church members who live in Pattaya, which is a 60-90 minute drive from church (depending upon traffic). Pattaya is the largest city in this province with a metro area population that exceeds 500,000 people. It is one of Thailand's busiest tourist locations with over 5 million people
visiting every year. Many of the tourists fall in love with this beautiful city on the coast of the Gulf
of Thailand and decide to become permanent residents. Pattaya has a very large expatriate
population. Unfortunately, the cause for Pattaya's popularity is that it is the center for
sex tourism in Thailand. And with vice of sex tourism has come the dreaded scourge of AIDS which
has devasted Thai families in this community. AIDS has taken the lives of many adults, leaving many
young children orphaned to be raised by relatives or friends. Without intervention, these children
turn towards prostitution as their only means of survival. Child prostitution is rampant here and
these children need ministries to reach out to them and give different options.
One orphan that we visited is 6 year old Googeek, who lives in Baan Salay, a town south of Pattaya. Googeek lives in a lean-to with her grandparents who are 85 years old and in poor health. This lean to is a very small and has no water. All water must be carried in from a neighbors well. They have no bathroom and must use a storm drain near their lean-to for a toilet. Pastors Jerron and On bring food to this family every week and dote on Googeek. They will adopt Googeek when her grandparents can no longer take care of her.
There are many, many others like Googeek who are orphans living in destitution. As United Methodists, we must provide for these children. We hope that a ministry to orphans can be started this year that matches orphans up to be adopted by a Christian family and provides financial support for the adopting family to help with physical needs. In cases like Googeek's family, her grandparents need to be adopted by a family to come live with her, so she is not separated from them and so her grangparents can be lifted out of their plight as well.
After visiting some families in the Pattaya metro region, we attended the cell group that meets at Pattaya. There were 16 people that met for Bible Study, Worship, and dinner there in a member's home. They have such abundant joy in worship and a real thirst for God's Word. This cell group will probably form the third UMC church in Thailand and we pray it will open some time this year. We are very blessed to be sent here to open new churches where there is such a great need. We thank you for your support and prayers that makes it all possible. May God Bless You!