We began our ministry in Thailand in 1970, when the Child Sponsorship Program was started. In 2002 the Leadership Development Program began, and the Child Survival Program followed in 2007.
After 40 years of ministry in Thailand, our ministry is now well known by the majority of evangelical churches in the country.
Country Director of Thailand
Sanya Ladaphongpattana joined our ministry in Thailand as a Program Coordinator and was later appointed Country Director.
Prior to coming to our ministy, he was a lecturer at Bangkok Institute of Theology and taught Sociology of Religion; he also served at many local churches and ministries.
Sanya holds a Masters of Comparative Religion from Mahidol University.
He also studied church management, missions and social studies at Selly Oak in the United Kingdom, and community development at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Implementing Church Partners
Implementing Church Partners are local churches in Thailand with whom we work to deliver child development and ministry in the field.
- Spiritual Climate in Thailand
The main religion in Thailand is Buddhism. Generally there is no persecution of Christians, and people are free to engage in any sort of religious activity. However, some parents will not accept their child becoming a Christian.
Many parents forbid their children to go to church and sometimes ask the staff to remove their children from the child development center.
A recent study found that there are more than 4,000 Protestant churches and more than 300,000 Christians in Thailand. The number of evangelical Christians is growing, specifically among tribal people. However, church attendance is declining among young people. Also, many church leaders are not strongly committed to the church.
- Unique Challenges in Thailand
Local churches are quite small (congregations average 60 to 70 members), so it is difficult to grow in terms of the size of our child development centers. There are needy children  in areas of the country that do not have any local churches.
The government provides free education, access to health services, and early childhood intervention services. As a result, we are sometimes faced with a limited number of children available, because families are already taking advantage of government services and do not have as much of a need for our program.
Many homeless, abused and trafficked children in Thailand need to be reached. We want to start initiatives for these children, but it is difficult.
Buddhist culture and practices are deeply rooted in Thai society. This can be challenging for implementing a program that teaches Christian values. Some parents even prohibit their children from enrolling in the program.
Implementing Church Partners contribute administrative support, construction equipment and volunteer time.
There are no formal church-to-church partnerships at this time. However, there is one sponsoring church in Australia that has visited an Implementing Church Partner in Thailand.
After their visit, they supported a Complementary Interventions project to obtain a water tank filter, and they sponsor over 30 children from that church partner.
- Partner Development Activities
We develop our partners through a variety of training programs. A leadership summit for pastors or committee chairs is held annually as well as an emerging young leader program. We also offer our partners the opportunity to visit child development centers that have implemented our program well.
Child Survival Program
- Caregiver Literacy
We offer literacy classes two to three times per month where mothers learn the alphabet and basic math. Volunteer tutors help those who are unable to keep up in class. The tutors help the mothers one-on-one to ensure they are learning.
- Income-Generating Skills
We offer cooking, weaving, embroidery, dessert making and local handicraft making. These classes are offered two to three times per quarter. The child development center provides materials needed such as needle and thread for weaving, beads and local material for embroidery and ingredients for cooking.
- Health Care
Public health centers and hospitals conduct health screenings and provide free prenatal care, delivery and immunizations for mothers who are Thai citizens. Our ministry pays for these services for beneficiaries who are not Thai citizens. However, pregnant mothers in Thailand often do not seek prenatal care because they are embarrassed to go to the doctor.
Child Survival Program staff members try to mitigate this by encouraging these young mothers to seek prenatal care and by training them on safe labor techniques and safe baby care.
- Nutritional Support
Supplementary food is provided for beneficiaries who are malnourished or who do not have enough money to buy sufficient food. Child Survival Program Specialists track the weight and height of all the children.
Children who are below average physically receive additional food such as eggs, powdered milk and meat. If a doctor suggests special food for a child, the Child Survival Program will provide the food.
- Involvement of Fathers
We make an effort to build a relationship with fathers during home visits. Also, fathers are invited to special events such as Christmas parties, family camps, etc.
- Transition out of the Child Survival Program
To prepare children to transition out of the Child Survival Program and into the Child Sponsorship Program, we ensure that they possess certain skills, such as the ability to eat and go to the bathroom on their own and read simple words.
To transition the mothers into the Child Sponsorship Program, we provide literacy classes and income-generating activities.
Our goal is that every mother has at least one income-generating skill. We also involve the mothers in activities such as Bible study, Christian fellowship, and the practice of spiritual disciplines. We ensure that every mother has heard the gospel.
- Areas of Expansion for the Child Survival Program
We would like to expand into the Thai-Burma border area and into the high mountain rural areas. These areas have many mothers and children who live in poverty and have no education, poor hygiene, and no access to sanitary delivery of their babies.
Most of these mothers are not Thai citizens, so they cannot receive services at the public health centers. As a result, these mothers are at a high risk for fatal diseases and many children do not reach the age of five.
Child Development Through Sponsorship
Your sponsorship of a child in Thailand provides a variety of benefits.
Children go to school from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. weekdays, so we conduct project activities on weekends.
- Weekly Meetings:
- 3 to 5 year olds: 7 to 8 hours a week, mainly on Saturday
- 6 to 8 year olds: 6 to 7 hours a week, mainly on Saturday
- 9 to 11 year olds: 6 to 7 hours a week, mainly on Saturday and Sunday
- 12 to 14 year olds: 4 hours a week, mainly on Saturday and Sunday
- 15 to 18 year olds: 4 hours a week, mainly on Saturday and Sunday
- 19 +: 4 hours a week, mainly on Saturday and Sunday
- Nutritional Support
Each child receives lunch which consists of rice, vegetables and meat at the child development center every Saturday. Milk is provided for young children, and children who are malnourished receive additional food to take home with them, such as rice, eggs, canned fish and milk.
We feed the children every week, because many parents are working on the weekends and not available to prepare meals for their children.
Also, some families cannot afford to buy meat; the typical meal for the children at home consists of rice, vegetables and chili paste. We like to ensure that the children receive a nutritious meal every week.
The Thai government provides routine vaccinations free of charge for all children who are Thai citizens at the public health centers or hospitals.
There are alternative vaccines for diseases that are preventable, but these vaccines are not high priority. They are expensive and not paid for by the Thai government.
Our ministry will cover the cost of these alternative vaccines for children who have not already received them.
- Specialty Curriculum
We use language and culture curriculum as well as a Life Skills curriculum for children over the age of 12.
- Extracurricular Activities or Community Service
We offer extracurricular activities such as sports and music as well as community service opportunities such as anti-drug campaigns. These activities are generally held during school holidays.
- Vocational Activities
We provide vocational training which includes computer lessons, baking, mechanics, agriculture, animal farming and local handicrafts such as weaving. Camps for art, music, sports and evangelism are held once a year.
We make an effort to provide multiple activities for adolescents so they might discover their own gifts and skills as well as earn an income. Also, we hope that offering activities at the Implementing Church Partner will prevent them from becoming involved in drug addiction, gangs or sexual problems.
Some Child Sponsorship Program graduates will work at the child development center when they graduate. The development center staff also provides graduates with information on job opportunities.
- Child Sponsorship Program Alumni Activities
We are in the process of collecting information from all sponsorship program graduates and developing an alumni database. Some alumni groups have helped their former development centers by providing feedback and advice to the center committee and staff, contributing to the programs, and helping with building projects.
- Parent Involvement
We offer the following activities annually: parenting class, meetings to inform parents how their children are doing at the development center, and special events such as Family Camp, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
In addition, child development center staff members visit the children’s homes every three months where they meet the parents and make an effort to build a relationship with them.
- Areas of expansion for the Child Sponsorship Program
We would like to expand in the north around the Thai-Burma border and northeast regions of Thailand. These provinces are the neediest and score the lowest on the Thailand Human Development report.
There are 40 indicators on the report that cover areas such as health, education, employment, income and living environment among others.
Leadership Development Program
- Universities Attended
Most Leadership Development Program students attend government universities, although those who have chosen to study theology attend a Christian university or seminary.
- Location of Universities
Most students study at universities located in northern Thailand.
- Working Students
Some students work as tutors in the evenings and on weekends, others work on-call at hotels as waiters and waitresses. Some work as carpenters, and others work as merchants selling goods during their summer break.
The primary reason students work is to help support their families. It also helps them gain valuable experience and develop financial stewardship skills.
The students also develop a greater appreciation for their sponsors, because they know they would not be able to work hard enough and earn enough to pay their own tuition.
- Service Opportunities
Many students volunteer at their churches as Sunday school teachers, youth group leaders or worship team participants. Others participate at their universities in service activities such as tree planting and home construction.
Some Leadership Development Program students work at camps during school breaks, and others serve at the child development centers.
- Leadership Development Program Meetings
A larger Leadership Development Program group meets five times per year. School breaks are held in December, October and March through May. During those breaks, students participate in a work camp for at least five days where they volunteer at child development centers located in remote areas of Thailand.
These students do various activities such as building latrines, painting classrooms, making repairs, tutoring children, and teaching parents about financial stewardship.
At the beginning of May, there is an annual training camp for all the students. They cover Leadership Development Program curriculum topics, take part in worship, and hear pastors share their experiences.
After training, students spend time together getting to know one another and building relationships. Lastly, all students are invited to attend the Leadership Development Program graduation ceremony. Many of the students help our staff prepare for the ceremony.
- Specialty Curriculum
We offer two special courses to the students. The first is “God’s Calling.” The objective of this course is to help students better understand God’s calling in their lives and to guide them in responding to their calling.
The second course we offer is “Christian Inner Healing,” because most of these students come from families that are verbally or physically abusive.
Also, some families are Buddhist and reject their children when they become believers. As a result, many students carry bitterness and hurt which are obstacles to becoming leaders in their communities. The objective of this course is to enable students to understand their hurts and allow God to heal them.
We try to find mentors for students who study in the same city as their former child development center. For those who are now studying in a different city as their former development center, the students need to find mentors on their own. If they need assistance, our Leadership Development Program Specialist offers advice.
- Career Placement Assistance
If a student desires to work in ministry or some Christian field, the Leadership Development Program Specialist contacts churches and Christian organizations on behalf of that student.
- Alumni Group
The Leadership Development Program alumni group has been in existence for three years. Some of their activities include mentoring students, tutoring students, providing financial support for Leadership Development Program activities, helping with the training camp, and giving orientation to new students.
Our core child sponsorship program, while comprehensive, does not address all obstacles to a child’s healthy development. The Complementary Interventions program was created to work with our holistic child development model to provide additional services, such as our AIDS Initiative, Bibles for all children, disaster relief and water projects.
Some of the Complementary Interventions we offer in Thailand are:
The goal of our water project in Thailand is to address the problem of water contamination and a limited supply of clean water  resources in north and northeast Thailand.
Many children and people in the communities have high rates of waterborne diseases such as diarrhea.
The goal of the latrine project in Thailand is to provide an adequate number of latrines for children when they come to the child development center.
- Resource Centers
The goal of our resource centers in Thailand is to provide learning materials such as books, computers, internet access and playgrounds.
The goal of infrastructure projects in Thailand is to improve child development center facilities, so they will be safer and provide a healthier environment for the children.
Highly Vulnerable Children
Most of our Highly Vulnerable Children needs in Thailand fall into the category of “care reinforcement.” We plan to provide activities such as micro-enterprise and income-generating projects for children and their caregivers.