When I first met Pi Sumalee, I was struck by her zeal. She had a passion for God and a genuine burden for souls like I hadn’t seen before among Thai people. I remember one Sabbath morning after the worship service, Pi Sumalee approached Chris Sorensen and me and asked that we pray with her. She wanted the Lord to show her how to help the children in her village know Jesus. After Chris and I finished our prayers, Pi Sumalee earnestly added her petitions with tears in her voice, pleading that the Lord would touch their hearts. As I quietly listened to her plead with God, I began to feel rebuked for my lack of love for the lost.
Pi Sumalee has been a Christian for several years and just recently began observing the Sabbath through the influence of one of her relatives, a Seventh-day Adventist minister. She lives in a village about 30 miles outside of the city of Khon Kaen and began attending our church services last fall. After her first visit, she told us that, several years ago, Methodist missionaries built a church on her property. Services are seldom held there because there is a lack of leadership, so she asked if we could help her out. We were excited about the possibilities, but we hesitated to commit because we didn’t want to divert our attention from our budding church plant in Khon Kaen.
Several months later, as I was leading a Thai Sabbath School class for new believers, I found myself struggling to communicate my thoughts adequately in Thai. I was thankful when Pi Sumalee and another recent attendee, Nok, picked up the slack and added their thoughts and shared their growing spiritual experiences with the other people in the group. Later that afternoon I was talking with my teammate Ricardo Palacios and told him how Pi Sumalee and Nok had practically led my Sabbath School class. As we talked about their passion for God, Ricardo remarked that we needed to empower them to witness. Our initial idea was to approach Pi Sumalee about the possibility of moving closer to Khon Kaen and finding work in the city so she could invite people to church. However, after we shared this idea with her, it became apparent to us that her heart was in her village. We now knew we needed to commit to helping her there.
Finally, this past June, we held our first service in Pi Sumalee’s church. Our Thai pastor, along with two church members and I, made the trip that first evening. I went expecting to share a Bible study with a handful of adults. But I was blown away to find more than 40 eager children and 10 adults waiting to hear the Word of God! Pi Sumalee had faithfully spread the word that we would be coming, and the Lord had blessed her efforts. As we began song service, I marveled that it had taken us so long to walk through this open door. I then began to dream of what God may have in store for us.
We now go to Pi Sumalee’s church once a week, and she continues to faithfully invite her neighbors and bring them on her motorcycle. Her passion continues to be evident in every Bible study, and we are training her to lead out in the studies. Two of the ladies who attend the study are new Christians and have learned about the Sabbath through Pi Sumalee. We are excited about the future, and we ask that you remember Pi Sumalee and her village in your prayers. We pray that Pi Sumalee’s passion and zeal will transfer to others and that many more people will be raised up who have a burden for souls.