Testimony of a Thai Colonel
by Surasak Banjukeaw
I have been in the Royal Thai Army for the last 32 years. Recently I retired as Chief of Defense Affairs Division, National Defense Institute of the Royal Thai Army.
After being raised in a Thai Buddhist family, I joined the military. The Thai army “way of life” is formally and informally full of Buddhist religious practices. Moreover, to have the best chance for promotion an officer must be Buddhist.
But in 1977 the seed of God’s Word was planted in my life through a Christian woman (of the Karen tribe) while I was leading an army intelligence team at the Thai-Burma border. Then my wife became really interested in Jesus. She allowed a Bible study led by a foreign missionary to meet in our home. This situation led me to Christ.
As a new Christian, I thought I was the only believer in all the army. When I visited churches in Bangkok, however, I discovered there were many other Christians in the Thai army. In 1984 a Thai military Christian fellowship formed to encourage believers in the army to stand firm for the Lord and witness to peers through our transformed lives.
Christians in the Thai army face various forms of rejection and persecution causing many to backslide. The Thai Christian population today is only one percent and traditionally a smaller percentage in the Thai army. Moreover, no Christian missions have worked directly with the Thai military or police. Why? Because they often seem arrogant and hard to approach, and therefore people fear them and their power and reputation for corruption.
But Thai military people are much more responsive to the gospel than most people. Why? Their vast Buddhist experience has proven empty. Military life produces deep, trusting friendships and these are channels through which the gospel can prosper. Already hundreds of men and women in uniform are coming to Christ, and they are responding at a rate much faster than the average civilian. God is at work among them like never before. A few public outreaches are now even being allowed by Buddhist commanders.
With God’s provision it is my passion to prepare young men for Christian ministry who are in the army, navy, air force, police and military academies. I plan to train them to be highly effective spiritual leaders who will impact the nation for Christ. When this strategic movement happens, it will be a powerful catalyst for the gospel to spread throughout Thailand.
The doors for ministry are now open. Pray we boldly walk in faith, for His glory, in this key moment of time.
This story appears in the November & December 2009 issue of Cadence Connection. Please visit: www.cadence.org.