Seed sowing is an important occupation in this large region of 21.5 million people. It is mainly poor rural communities that make up Isaan - main industry is agriculture, with the production of Sticky Rice accounting for 60 per cent of the cultivated land in Isaan. However, Isaan is the driest and poorest region in Thailand - all of Thailand's 10 poorest provinces are in Isaan (the poorest province is Si Saket, which is just to the west of Ubon). Isaan has a history of being dominated and oppressed by various regimes over the last 800 years - which paints a painful past for the ethnolinguistic groups that occupy the region (Isaan, Lao and Khmer).
We are excited about the potential here for great things to happen and for building on the work already started by others in some parts of the region. In early May we are making another survey trip to the Isaan and visiting with a Thai Christian worker in the needy province of Si Saket (poorest province in all of Thailand) to see how we can partner with him in the future.
What is a picture of the need in Isaan?
The following statistics give a stark picture of the spiritual need in Isaan and are what God is using to drive my heart toward the unreached .....
Population per 1 evangelical Christian
Regional Data - Thailand (174), Isaan (634), Bangkok (113), Chiang Mai (20), Chiang Rai (17)
Isaan provincial data - Khon Kaen (528), Ubon (844), Surin (1,076), Si Saket (1,068), Kalasin (1,303)
This data shows that in order to evangelise their respective provinces, each Christian in Chiang Rai only needs to reach 17 people, while each Christian in Kalasin needs to reach 1,303 people. Much God-honouring work has been done in the past in areas like Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai and we celebrate the progress of the Good News in those places. But these figures demonstrate the enormity of the missions task STILL to be done in the Isaan region and its true nature as a largely unreached area.
My heart cries deeply as Jesus spoke about the harvest being plentiful but the labourers are few. This truly reflects large sections of Thailand, with a heavy focus on the 20 provinces that make up the Isaan region.
Challenge to pray
Will you pray with us as we seek to build a team strategy, survey and build a plan of action over the coming months to reach the great unreached region of Isaan in North East Thailand. Please pray that seed would be sown in relationship building that lasts for eternity to give people an opportunity to hear the Good News about Jesus.