The Pattaya Akha UMC is a special congregation in the United Methodist Church. It is a church for those of the Akha hilltribe who work and reside in Pattaya. From the very start, this church has over 100 members in attendance, which is unheard of in Thailand. God has blessed this congregation and it is a place of strong bonds of fellowship.
We were invited to come celebrate Christmas with this congregation. They celebrate very early, during the first week of December, because most of the members will head back to the far north in Chiang Rai to be with their families. Many of the members have children who live in Chiang Rai with their grandparents. The parents must live in Pattaya to work to send money home to support the family. So it is a time of homecoming for the Akha people.
There were over 200 Akha people at the Christmas celebration. Pastor Ahlong had told us that they did not have any funds for purchasing gifts for the children, so the Thailand Methodist Mission made gift bags filled with toys and treats for the 20 children who attend church here.
The Christmas celebration was a great feast and it the members always give us a warm welcome. These members work hard every day just to make enough to feed and clothe their families and they try to educate their children so that they will have a better future and more good opportunities than what they have had. The Pattaya Akha people are truly the "salt of the earth" and we ask that you will pray for this congregation. Pattaya is a very expensive city, and it is difficult for them to afford to keep the doors of the church open. Please pray that God will greatly bless the Akha members and their families, that they will prosper so that they will no longer be in poverty and that their church will thrive.
|A Christmas feast|
|The sanctuary was beautifully decorated.|
|Christine Villa, missionary at Blessing Home, with one of the Akha members wearing traditional clothing.|
|Most of the Akha people ate dinner outside on the street, because only a small number could fit inside the building.|
|Sherri with one of the Akha members wearing traditional clothing.|