Seventh-day Adventist world church President Ted N. C. Wilson has offered encouragement to hundreds of Adventist leaders at a historic pastoral convention in Bangkok and asked for prayers for the local Adventist hospital after months of political unrest led to a decline in patients.
Wilson, who visited the Thai capital last week, also prayed with the country’s top politician for religious affairs and visited two Adventist schools that educate the children of some of the most influential people in Thailand.
The July 14-16 pastoral convention, titled “Revival and Reflecting God’s Glory,” gathered more than 1,200 Adventist pastors, church workers, administrators and spouses from across the Southern-Asia Pacific Division for the first meeting of its kind since the territory of the former Far Eastern Division was split into two divisions in 1997.
The kaleidoscope of colorful cultural outfits and the myriad of languages that marked the opening ceremony impressed many first-time attendees.
“I’ve never seen anything [like this] before,” said Dhay Htoo Sien, a pastor and school principal from Yangon City, Myanmar. “It makes me feel I’m a part of the world church family.”
Wilson urged attendees in a keynote speech to pursue a more vibrant relationship with Christ, saying they would see as a result more positive relationships with family members, church members, and the general community.
“Let them know that a walk with Christ is a vibrant, joyful existence,” he said.
On the sidelines of the convention, Wilson visited the 200-bed Bangkok Adventist Hospital, which opened in 1937 and is known locally as Mission Hospital. It has lost much business over the past six to seven months because of its near proximity to government buildings buffeted by demonstrations and related road closures, Wilson said by e-mail.
“Unfortunately, it needs our prayers since it is so close to the government buildings where demonstrations take place,” said Wilson, who ate lunch at the hospital with his wife, Nancy. “Now everything is quiet and peaceful, and they are regaining their patient load.”
In an attempt to return normalcy to the country, the Thai military took over the government on May 22.
Wilson also met with the government director of the religious affairs department, which is part of the Culture Ministry.
“We shared with him about Seventh-day Adventists and our emphasis on following Christ’s ministry — physically, mentally, socially and spiritually,” Wilson said. “We shared counsel from the Bible with him and had prayer for him, his colleagues, the King and Queen of Thailand, and the people of Thailand.”
Wilson later toured the Ekamai Thai School and the Ekamai International School, which opened in 1946 as a school for Christian missionaries’ children and now teaches kindergarten through 12th grade. Today, both schools are progressive and thriving schools as they reach out to the students of the upper classes of Bangkok, Wilson said.
“We spent most of the day visiting and encouraging people,” he said.
—additional reporting by Teresa Costello