This church did not start in Buengkan, but instead started 500 miles away at God is Good Church in Ban Bueng in Chonburi province in Eastern Thailand. There was a woman named Buasorn, who moved with her husband many years ago from Buengkan to Chonburi to work here. It was two years ago that Buasorn became sick and went to the hospital. She found out that she had breast cancer and that she would need chemo treatments. Buasorn was frantic because she was afraid of suffering and death and she confided in a friend of hers, Anupa, one of the Christian leaders of God is Good Church, a Pioneer Pastor Church. Anupa prayed over her friend Buasorn, and the Lord heard her prayers and healed Buasorn of cancer. She did not even have to go through with the chemo treatments! Her cancer scans came back clean again and again!
Anupa led Buasorn to receive Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and Buasorn started to attend God is Good Church every Sunday. Anupa would pick up Buasorn and bring her to church every Sunday because they owned only one car and Buasorn dare not take the car and leave her husband without one. This went on for several months, and during this time Buasorn and the members of God is Good Church prayed that her husband Jaray would come to Christ. One day, Jaray told Buasorn that they should not be a burden to Anupa anymore, and he would be willing to take Buasorn to church. At first he would drop her off at church and then come back and pick her up. But eventually Jaray would drive Buasorn to church and then come inside with her. It was not long before Jaray gave his life to Christ. When we asked Jaray why he gave his life to Christ, he said that Jesus made his wife to become a new person and he wanted a new life in Christ too.
Jaray and Anupa then shared the Gospel of Christ with his family and relatives in his home village in Buengkan, and many of them became Christians. Pastors Peter, Nuc, and Jennifer of God is Good Church started to take turns traveling to Buengkan every other weekend to have worship, Bible study, and training there. Members of God is Good church did outreach events there several times as well. The new believers in Buengkan met at the village center (it is a public building that is like a picnic shelter) but they were growing too numerous to continue meeting there. So Jaray and Buasorn donated land in the middle of the village so a church could be built.
About 2 weeks after construction of a church building began on the land, Jaray became ill and entered the hospital, he quickly deteriorated and became bed-ridden. At first we prayed for healing, and then it became evident that his time to be with the Lord was coming soon. So we started praying that the Lord would allow Jaray to live long enough to have the church building completed and to have a Grand Opening Worship Service. God answered our prayers.
So on New Year's Day, we had a Grand Opening Service for God is Good Buengkan Church (they took the name of their mother church). The members of the church went to Jaray's house and they carried him in his bed to the church and placed him at the front. His wife, Buasorn, as well as his sisters took turns caring for him. He constantly needed to be moved and turned (for comfort as well as to prevent sores), and they had to use a suction device with they inserted into a stoma in his neck to remove fluid from his lungs. He also had an oxygen tube connected to him at all times.
We have been privileged to celebrate many Grand Openings of new church buildings, but this was the only time we have had a man in his last days reclining in a bed at the front of the church. We were honored to celebrate together with Jaray and Buasorn. They planted the first Christian church in their county, and they have already seen many lives transformed by Christ. We know these new Christians because Sherri baptized many of them last year. They are filled with joy and a passionate love for Jesus that first generation Christians have in abundance.
As you see from pictures, the church is Red with a white stripe in the middle. I showed them a picture of the "striped tomato car" from Starsky and Hutch (a TV show from the 70's), and told them that I will call this the Striped Tomato Church.
We were overwhelmed with joy this New Year's Day, and filled with the wonderful satisfaction that one more county that never had a Christian church throughout history is now being reached with the Gospel of Christ. And this county will never be the same.