of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles…” Luke 2:30-32
In the northern province of Nong Khai in Thailand, more than 800 people came to an eyeglass clinic sponsored by Lutheran Hour Ministries (LHM), hoping that the medical staff and short-term missionaries from The Church at Creston – Lutheran in Kalispell, Mont., could help them regain some of their eyesight.
As the doctors and volunteers fit them for glasses, the patients’ eyes were opened not just to the world around them, but also to their need for a Savior when they received free copies of Luther’s Small Catechism, provided by the Lutheran Heritage Foundation.
“Many of the people had never had glasses before,” said Vicar Kyle Winter, who led the mission group from Montana. “Some of the patients, I know, had pretty serious cataracts as well. But they don’t have access to medical care, either within their own infrastructure or through their own finances. So The Church at Creston – Lutheran partnered with a local optometry team and paid for the eyeglasses and prescriptions.”
“With every outreach project LHM Thailand does, including holistic projects, we find ways to share the Gospel with the people we are helping,” said Boom Denow, director of LHM Thailand.
“Since many of the people were receiving eyeglasses so they could read, we wanted to share Christian written materials with them. When we learned that LHF had produced a pocket edition of Luther’s Small Catechism in the Thai language, it seemed like an ideal gift. The catechism gives very clear explanations of basic Christian teachings, so it is an excellent evangelistic tool,” she explained.
None of the 813 people served were Christians, Boom said. “Virtually all of them are Buddhists. For most of them, this was the first time that they had ever personally talked with a Westerner and the first time that they had heard any presentation of the Gospel.”
“There are 67 million people in Thailand and less than 2 percent who are Christian,” said Vicar Winter. “It was pretty amazing to see afterward, when people would gather around in groups and read the catechism…just because they were so excited to have glasses and to be able to read.”
The mission workers were amazed when a city official who attended the clinic each day spoke to the people about the catechism.
“On the second day of the clinic, during an introductory ceremony, one of the main officials announced that she had gone home the night before and read all the materials that we were giving them, and that she thought they were very important things for everybody to read,” Vicar Winter remembered. “She committed to her people that they should read these things. So here we had a Buddhist mayor telling her Buddhist constituents that they should go read the catechism. Pretty amazing!”
“Many Thai people don’t know who God is and have never heard about Jesus,” Boom explained. “Most Thai people cannot use English well, so [they] need to have Bibles and Christian materials in the Thai language. Thai people can read these Lutheran books privately and they can read them many times, if they don’t understand the information. Each copy of these books can be shared with many people.”
LHF’s books are provided free of charge to those who need them. If you or your church group is planning a short-term mission trip, click here to see what books are available in the languages of the people you’ll be serving.
Only with your help can this important work continue. Prayerfully consider how you can help support LHF projects.