In an effort to find a greater global awareness, Gloucester Baptist Church organised a trip to Thailand.
A group of nine people headed over to Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand in November 2017 as part of a short term mission in partnership with the Baan Athitaan (House of Prayer) Church.
This wasn’t the first time a Gloucester group has made the trip, with some of the same people taking part in an inaugural mission in 2015.
And according to Gloucester Baptist Church pastor, Luke Hester it hopefully won’t be the last.
Luke was joined by his wife, Alison, daughters Bethany and Lynelle, along with Gloucester’s Paul Patmore, James Rumbel and Chris Payne, as well as Stroud’s father and son, Kyle and Jacob Reinhard.
The group spent 10 days experiencing the cultural and learning about life in Thailand.
Luke explained how Chiang Rai is a mutli-cultural community and how they were fortunate enough to arrive during a celebration day that included a cross-section of the cultures through food, dance, games and cultural dress.
A good portion of the mission was spent with members of the Baan Athitaan Church, at the various project the church runs around the city.
Projects, like the Grace Language School, an English school that is part of the church, was one of the places the group spent time.
Luke said the community doesn’t have native English speakers come and visit very often, so the group took part in an English Fun Day and talked to the community about Australian culture, common greetings and customary celebrations, like Christmas.
They even helped decorate for the festive season at a Christian home for girls.
Another church project they spent time at was the twilight soccer league.
In 2016, some members of the Baan Athitaan Church came to Gloucester and one of them, Jay played a bit of soccer while he were here; so it was only fitting that the group spent time with Jay’s soccer league.
Luke said the mission was organised “partly to give people in Gloucester a greater global awareness and experiences with other cultures.”
“But also to support the Baan Athitaan Church and what it is doing in its community,” he said.
“Experiencing other cultures, something outside of your local context, can enhance what you bring home to your community.”
Luke hopes to take another group back to Thailand in 2019, as the original plan was to make a total of three trips every two years.
He explained how returning to the same community, as well as returning with some of the same people, has helped strengthened the bond between the two groups.
“One of the things we came away with this trip, was recognising the value of an ongoing relationship with another community.”