The multiplier factor
Mission co-workers Leith and Carol Fujii equip ministers who train others for service
October 7, 2011
Thanks to the work of these Presbyterian mission co-workers and others at BIT, the school’s graduates are not only ministering to people all over Thailand, but they are inspiring others to do the work of the gospel. This ministry, Leith says, comes primarily through relationships built both inside and outside the classroom.
For Den Vichakyothin, a simple question that Leith posed to him began a mentoring relationship between the student and his professor. When Den was a new seminarian, Leith simply asked him, “What do you want God to teach you here?” His initial response, Leith recalls, was typical of other seminarians. He wanted to be an effective minister and learn more about the Scriptures.
However, Den returned to Leith later with a different answer. He acknowledged that Leith’s question had provoked self-examination and inward wrestling. Den admitted that what he really wanted was for God to change his life.
“I have seen God doing that transforming work in his life,” Leith says. And that transformation is influencing many other lives in Thailand. Den, a classical guitarist, had earlier put aside his guitar, but while at BIT he began to explore ways he could use the guitar in ministry. He now has graduated and teaches guitar at BIT for use in worship and outreach ministries. Teams of Den’s students visit various venues using creative media, dance, drama and contemporary music as witnesses to the gospel.
Den himself has become a mentor to students. Leith helped point out to Den that one of his talented guitar students, Kumchai, was looking to him as a role model. “I had never thought of that before,” Den admits. Then Den began delving deeper into issues of ministry and discipleship with his student.
When Kumchai finished his studies at BIT, he began serving at a local church. For the past three years he has been building relationships with non-Christian youth by teaching them guitar. “Now a number of his students are coming to this church regularly and parents are wondering what has caused the change in formerly bad behavior,” Den says. “One day soon I think we will see some of his students using their guitars to teach others how they can do more than just play beautiful music.”
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) appointed Leith and Carol to mission service in 1998. At BIT both are English instructors, helping students develop their capabilities so that they can use English to access theological and ministry resources. Such resources in Thai are limited in number, and confidence with English is necessary for developing relationships beyond the borders of Thailand.
As an extension of their work at the seminary, the Fujiis are involved with mentoring and encouraging students and alumni as they serve in churches throughout Thailand. One of these congregations is Mumphraporn (Corner of Blessing) Church, which has a vital ministry to Thai laborers returning to Bangkok from Singapore. A number of them come to know Christ while away from home and return with a desire to share the Christ’s love with their family and friends.
Three BIT graduates work to help free women from lives of prostitution in Bangkok’s notorious red-light district. Two ministries, the Well Ministry and Samaritan Creations, are devoted to developing friendships with the sex workers, listening to their stories, and eventually introducing them to Christ. The women who are reached by the ministries also have the opportunity to learn job skills such as jewelry design, card-making, tailoring, and business management/accounting. Some of them with only an elementary-level education have been able to study toward and complete their high school equivalency. Carol has been a friend and confidant to these BIT alumni and to the women they are serving.
In a country where fewer than 1 percent of the people are Christian, the Fujiis embody a respectful witness that flows from walking in relationship with Jesus Christ. For example, Leith has developed a friendship with his barber, Noot, a devout Buddhist. They have had many conversations over the years and one day she asked him for a Bible and Christian literature. “She is not the only neighbor who is wondering about our Lord,” Leith says.
Because of the ministry of the Fujiis and BIT, many Thai who want to know more about Christ will be befriended and loved by BIT graduates and those they equip for ministry.