Church cooperation Child sponsorship
For Europeans, Thailand conjures up images of Buddhist temples, paradise islands and beach holidays. The majority of the Thai population, however, live in rural rice-growing areas. Only one third of the Thai population live in cities, mainly in the Bangkok area. Thailand is an industrialised developing country. There is the potential for HIV and AIDS to become an epidemic in Thailand, as around half a million people are infected with the HIV virus and the country is a sex tourism destination. The country is also home to a large domestic sex industry.
FELM partners with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Thailand (ELCT) in its work in the country. The Church is active and growing and currently has almost 4,000 members. The Church’s resources are not, however, sufficient for all of the activities it would like to carry out. FELM is therefore helping the Church to become more financially and administratively self-sufficient. FELM currently supports the church’s diaconal and other work and helps with the training of workers. Child sponsorship funds support children’s education.
Enabling the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Thailand to become financially self-sufficient requires imagination and new ideas. For example, one church in north-east Thailand has established a rubber plantation, with funding from FELM. The aim is that the plantation will provide income that can be used to support the church’s activities.
In Bangkok FELM supports the Lutheran Theological Training Centre, which provides training for pastors, evangelists and lay persons. The Centre has recently begun providing training in music work.
As part of its proclamation work in Thailand, FELM supports the Church’s local radio work and proclamation work in northern Thailand as well as the work of the Good News Centre in Singapore, which works with Thai immigrants.
The diaconal work of ELCT is targeted at different ages and groups. The work among the elderly is already well established. Sponsorship work has also been started. The Grace Home in Bangkok provides help for pregnant women in living in difficult circumstances.
ELCT’s HIV and AIDS programme trains church workers and church members and provides aid to those living with HIV and AIDs and their relatives. FELM supports ELCT’s AIDS support centre, which aims to increase awareness of the virus and to help people living with HIV and AIDS. The centre’s workers carry out home visits, support and give practical advice to family members, and try to find new sources of employment for those who have lost their jobs due to their infected status.