One of the very first things that our new Christian volunteers experience during orientation is worship at Sapan Luang Church in Bangkok. From my first visit to this church several years ago, I have been amazed at the church’s ability to reach out to diverse peoples to share the good news of the gospel. That magic was re-created for our new volunteers when they went to worship at Sapan Luang Church during this orientation. At Sapan Luang Church, which is an historically Chinese church in Bangkok, everything is communicated in three languages: Chinese, Thai and English. Chinese and Thai are spoken from the pulpit and lectern, while headsets provide English translation for visitors. Both lectern and pulpit have two microphones and two people are given equal time and equal status to communicate the word of God to the congregation. On some Sundays (like this one), the primary speaker used the Thai language, while the Senior Pastor translated into Chinese. I have also seen the reverse done on other Sundays.
To provide even more of a sense of the true Pentecost experience, all hymns are sung in Chinese, Thai and English simultaneously. Hymnals in all three languages are provided to worshipers when they arrive for worship and, when the time comes to sing, everyone sings the great hymns of the church in their own language. Sapan Luang also has a great choir that sings every Sunday (and provides a marvelous performance of Handel’s “Messiah” each year at Christmastime, if you are in town). The lyrics of the choral piece are provided in multiple languages on a hidden screen that magically appears in time for the anthem. It allows everyone who is worshiping to understand the glory of the words, as well as the music, provided by the choir.
We were privileged to be a part of the congregation on the Sunday that they welcomed some of their missionaries home for an annual conference – a time of learning, retreat and renewal. Some of these missionaries are serving and planting new churches in Thailand. Others are in neighboring countries and some as far away as Taiwan and the USA. Sapan Luang has many daughter churches. What a treat it was for us to see that the church’s mission work continues and carries on the fine tradition begun by the original missionaries! After worship, we were invited to share the noon meal and break bread with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We returned to our guest house refreshed and renewed by an uplifting service of worship and a new circle of Christian friends who have promised to pray for our volunteers as they begin their work here in Thailand.