Sunday, July 19, 2015

Exploring the idea of conversion to another religion through the example of the Christian group “The Church” by using the techniques of free listing, surveys and questionnaires and supplementing with interviewing and internet research.

I was interested in the subject of conversions into a new religion after meeting some people who are part of a Christian group from China called “The Church”, and who are here evangelizing. I was intrigued because I was interested in understanding the behavior of people who would convert to a new religion. Because I had never approached the subject of conversions I was unsure what questions to ask regarding conversions so I decided to explore this idea using the technique of free listing. Once I received the answers from the free listing I used these answers to design a questionnaire for a survey. As I was exploring the question I realized that my task as a researcher involved In addition I spent some time with members of the group in question to understand the process they are using and how they go about attracting people for conversions, so I used the technique of interviewing. As I was analyzing the response I received I found myself exploring the tool of discourse analysis. After talking to them I was given additional information so I finished this project by doing a quick internet search both for their group, as well as the groups that they suggested that I explore. This project although limited in its scope became a real life example of how the tools cannot artificially be separated as a question is explored, rather they are all together used for the purposes of research to elicit answers to questions.
First I used the technique of free listing for this project. Micheal Stausberg (2014, 245-255) presents information about free listing, also called list task or list recall. It is a method to explore categories of people in the studied subjects, categories or cultural domains. It is a good tool for exploratory research in this field where I needed to find out about the vocabulary people would use for a certain subject. Free listing is a good choice for exploratory research since it requires only 20-30 respondents, because it seems that with increasing the number of informants, the number of new elements added to the aggregated list becomes smaller. I used the free listing form shown in Figure 1 to elicit responses regarding the idea of conversion as well as for understanding what people think and feel about their religion. I distributed 30 free listing questionnaires and received 24 responses back. Sample size does determine confidence although again it is usually sufficient to have 20-30 respondents as the sample size.  Because of its ease in administration free listing can be a useful tool in religious research, especially used in combination with other research tools, like questionnaires or surveys to determine relevant questions or interviewing to determine relevant themes of study.
The free listing questionnaires were distributed in the college of religious studies to undergraduate students, graduate students and staff. I was asking them to create lists for 3 subjects: what are their religious activities, what they think about as they think about religion and last the question that prompted me to start exploring which is the question of conversion, specifically if they had considered the idea of changing their religious affiliation and to list the reason of why they had or why they had not. It is interesting to note that the demographic information collected showed that out of the 24 responses 21 indicated that they were Buddhist, 1 Hindu and 2 no answersΠλαίσιο κειμένου: ¬¬¬Please answer a few questions for a project we are doing at the faculty of religious studies? There are no right or wrong answers. We are exploring how people think about religion. Thank you for your help!!!
Would you think of yourself as a religious person?   Yes 0       No  0
 If yes what is your religious affiliation:  Buddhist 0    Muslim 0    Christian 0     Hindu 0   Other ____
Do you go to regular religious gatherings?   Yes 0       No  0
 If yes where do you go? ______________________ What do you do there? ___________
Do you do other activities related to religion?   Yes 0 No 0 If yes please list those activities (e.g. giving alms to the monks, visiting WAT or temple or church, dinner with people who share your faith, traditional celebrations, etc.)     
1. ____________________________________________________
2. ____________________________________________________
3. ____________________________________________________
4. ____________________________________________________
5. ____________________________________________________
Please list the things that come to mind when you think about religion.
1. ____________________________________________________
2. ____________________________________________________
3. ____________________________________________________
4. ____________________________________________________
5. ____________________________________________________
Have you ever considered the idea of changing your religious affiliation?   Yes 0  No  0
Please list the reasons why you would or would not consider changing your religious affiliation.    
6. ____________________________________________________
7. ____________________________________________________
8. ____________________________________________________
9. ____________________________________________________
10. ____________________________________________________
Demographic InformationGender:    male 0            female 0
Age group:    15-20 0       20-25 0    25-30 0       30-40 0    40-50 0       50-60 0    over 60 0  
Figure 1: Questionnaire to Elicit Free Listing Responses

I also noticed in general that out of the responses I received I would have liked to ask follow up questions and explore the responses further but the tool of free listing gave me a limited range of responses. At the same time it was a quick exploratory tool. Within a matter of a few hours I got 24 responses, something that would have taken me possibly days to complete using interviewing as a technique. So the advantages of using free listing is that it is a very quick and easy tool to elicit responses when exploring a new field. The tradeoff is of course in the depth of the answers that can be explored using this tool.
The central idea of this project was to explore the tools and methodologies yet at the same time I was also interested in exploring the question of conversion. Out of 24 responses 16 said that they would not consider changing their religious affiliation, 2 said they would and 6 gave no answer although by looking at their free listing responses 2 people indicated that their religion “makes them feel happy when they are sad” and that “their religion makes them feel calm”, or that “they have faith in their religious teachings” so it seemed like a strong indication that they would not change their religion. Out of the 2 respondents that indicated that they would consider changing their faith their free listing responses for one were “claimed that religion in mind” and “much respect for that religion”. I would have been interested in exploring more in depth what “this religion” was, and what that person was indicating or what they were interested in. For the other person that indicated that they had considered changing their religion they had listed themselves as Hindu, and they gave noteworthy responses that I am listing here. For activities related to religion they listed “chanting”, “meditation”, “temple church, mosque, ashram, shrine” and “offering food”. For things that come to their mind when they think of religion they listed “violence”, “war”, “sacred”, “self peacefulness”, “political”. And last but not least for the reasons that they would consider changing their religion “political, “marriage”, “acceptance”, “for fun” and “supreme being testing”. I was certainly intrigued. For the writing style of the letters I could see that this was a Thai person responding given the characteristic swirls that they have in their letters that they replicate in English writing. Again the limitation of free listing was apparent here since of course I would have liked to explore these people further but since I did not know their identity I had to rely simply on the responses that were collected. In a more extensive project having a booth or having more personal contact with the respondents would allow me to select these respondents that I would be interested in and conduct interview questions with them so this is a combination of the techniques that I would consider using in the future. For the purposes of this project each tool was artificially selected but in a real life research project I would certainly not limit my options to one tool at a time only.
The technique of free listing can be used in combination with surveys or questionnaires or as a preparatory tool for surveys and questionnaires, so the next technique I used was the survey technique. There are several ways to measure salience of data (data that is shared or distributed and considered relevant amongst groups of people) as for example taking items that were mentioned first to be more relevant than items that were mentioned later in the lists that people construct. The boundary of the domain is determined by the frequency of occurrence of items in individual lists (Stautberg, 245-255). I compiled the responses I received from free listing into questions for a survey as shown in Figure 2 below including both questions about religion and how religion makes people feel as well as including one single question only about conversion to see if this would give me a different response given that already I had 24 free listing questionnaires that included a survey type question about converting into another religion. Given that the sample size would increase and that I elicited answers from other respondents, I could combine the answers from the 24 free listing questionnaires and the 33 surveys I got.

Πλαίσιο κειμένου: ¬¬¬ Please answer a few questions for a project we are doing at the faculty of religious studies? There are no right or wrong answers. We are exploring how people think about religion. Thank you for your help!!! 
Would you think of yourself as a religious person?   Yes 0       No  0  (AFFILIATION)
 If yes what is your religious affiliation:  Buddhist 0    Muslim 0    Christian 0     
Hindu 0   Other ____ (AFFILIATION)
Do you go to regular religious gatherings?   Yes 0       No  0   (BEHAVIOR)
Do you mediate?   Yes 0  No  0   (BEHAVIOR)
Do you follow tradition celebrations?   Yes 0  No  0 (BEHAVIOR)
Do you give alms to the monks / offerings to temple?   Yes 0  No  0  (BEHAVIOR)
Do you offer food to animals (fish, etc)?   Yes 0  No  0  (BEHAVIOR)
Does your religious belief make you feel better?   Yes 0  No  0  (OPINIONS AND BELIEFS)
Does your religion make you happy?   Yes 0  No  0  (OPINIONS AND BELIEFS)
Does your religion makes you calm?   Yes 0  No  0    (OPINIONS AND BELIEFS)
Do you feel that you have faith?   Yes 0  No  0  (OPINIONS AND BELIEFS)
Does your faith help you?   Yes 0  No  0   (OPINIONS AND BELIEFS)
Does your faith makes you feel better if you are sad?   Yes 0  No  0  (OPINIONS AND BELIEFS)
Does your religion make you feel safe?   Yes 0  No  0  (OPINIONS AND BELIEFS)
Do you consider your religion the center of your life?   Yes 0  No  0  (OPINIONS AND BELIEFS)
Do you like the teachings of your religion?   Yes 0  No  0 (OPINIONS AND BELIEFS)
Do you believe the teachings of your religion?   Yes 0  No  0 (OPINIONS AND BELIEFS)
Have you ever considered the idea of changing your religious affiliation?  Yes 0  No  0 (AFFILIATION)
Demographic Information (PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS)
Gender:    male 0            female 0
Age group:    15-20 0       20-25 0    25-30 0       30-40 0    40-50 0       50-60 0    over 60 0  
Figure 2: Survey Questions
In this survey I explored several questions that have to do with religion that came out of the responses that I received from free listing. Juhen Navarro-Rivera and Barry A. Kosmin (2014, 395-420) explore surveys as a tool where individuals are asked about their affiliations, opinions, beliefs, behaviors or personal characteristics so I was interested in exploring all of these dimensions. In the questions listed in Figure 2 above a note is made to indicate what category of question each question refers to.
Would you think of yourself as a religious person?
What is your religious affiliation?
Bhuddhist:28 Muslim:1 Christian:1 Hindu:1
Have you ever considered the idea of changing your religious affiliation? 
Do you go to regular religious gatherings?
Do you mediate?
Do you follow tradition celebrations?  
Do you give alms to the monks / offerings to temple?  
Do you offer food to animals (fish, etc)?
Does your religious belief make you feel better?
Does your religion make you happy?  
Does your religion makes you calm?  
Do you feel that you have faith?  
Does your faith help you?  
Does your faith makes you feel better if you are sad?  
Does your religion make you feel safe? 
Do you consider your religion the center of your life?  
Do you like the teachings of your religion?  
Do you believe the teachings of your religion?
Male:15       Female:18
Age group                              15-20:18, 20-25:10, 25-30:0, 30-40:2, 40-50:1, 50-60:1, over 60:0
The population selected in the interest of the scope of this project was solely undergraduate, graduate and staff of the College of Religious Studies at Mahidol University in Thailand. Of course I was aware of the fact that the data from such a skewed portion of the population cannot be generalized to make any meaningful conclusions that pertain to Mahidol University, let alone Salaya, Thailand. This was not meant to be a probabilistic survey that could make statistical inferences about the population in general, rather it was meant to be an exploratory tools into the beliefs of people as far as religion is concerned. This being said, it could be argued that the data can be generalized to the population of undergraduate, graduate and staff of the College. The sample size for the limited scope of this project was selected to be 30 surveys. Interestingly enough I got an additional 3 people who wished to add their answers so I manually entered their data since I did not have any more printed surveys. So whereas in the free listing people who received free listing questionnaires did not return them to me, in the surveys I got all the responses back and then 10% additional responses. This came in fact as a surprise to me. The results from the survey are tabulated in Table 1 below.
Table 1: Tabulation of the answers obtained from the survey.

Figure 3: Pie chart showing answers to the question of whether respondents would consider changing their religious affiliation.

From the data I would like to pay special attention to the question of whether someone would consider changing their religious affiliation. Because of the independence of the groups I could combine responses from both tools on this question. A detailed graph displaying the answers is shown in Figure 3 above. It was very surprising to me to see that in fact over 50% of people even though in the rest of the questions they indicated that they like their religion, and overall they get positive feelings from their religion and beliefs how could they consider changing their religion? From my Western perspective this was intriguing.  If I had more time for this project I would consider doing a completely new survey using different questions to see if indeed this response is accurate and really reflects the beliefs of people. For the purposes on this project I could only accept the data I received as true and analyze it.
One is grouping the responses of behaviors into behaviors that support religious beliefs (132 positive responses - 81%) versus do not support religious beliefs (30 negative responses – 18%) and no answer (surprisingly only 1).  Another grouping is surprising. All the questions in the survey were phrased positively. In retrospect I would have done it differently because I see that this possibly skewed the results of the conversions (it has been shown that people are much more likely to reply yes after 7 yes answers in a row). Nonetheless, in combination there are 268 positive responses (90%) on how religion affects people versus 28 negative responses (9.5%). This is statistically a very significant result showing that people really value their religious beliefs and that those beliefs bring them happiness. This is something that in a possible future study it is worth exploring.
In still trying to understand the reality of what it means to bring a new religion to Thai people, knowing that it seems that they are very happy with their religious beliefs and that those beliefs will make them feel better about themselves. So in my exploration, the next step was to participate to the gathering that “The Church” group holds in order to elicit interviews. In terms of arranging for the interviews I established contact with the group through a person that knew them. He accompanied me to the meeting although he said that they were quite happy that I would be coming. My goal as I was going into this meeting was to have a number of interviews with various participants. When I went to their location though I realized that there was only one person who could speak English, the rest only spoke Chinese and eventually some members came who spoke Thai. In the timeframe of this project I could not devote additional time to exploring the group further so I limited myself to one extensive interview. The aim of the interview was to explore the situation I was investigating further rather than reach what Davidson Brembord (2014, 310-324) calls theoretical saturation in exploring a research question. As we started on the interview I realized that I had to divert from my interview guide and ask questions from a different perspective so I could get some answers. When I asked him if he was here evangelizing without me asking any additional questions at all he was quick to say that he does not believe in being supported by any organization in order to reach numbers of conversion, rather he believes that he should pray and God will send people to him. I then immediately switched my line of questioning to say that I was very interested in Christianity and how it is spread in Thailand because I myself was interested in finding out more. I gave him a much softer line of questions and I was able to elicit some better responses. For example I found out that they have been operating in Salaya for half a year now, they are not registered yet with the state of Thailand, when they arrived there were 4 Christian members in their group and now there are 20, they evangelize by going out and talking about their faith, by handing out fliers and also a discount coupon on books. The Christians in Thailand are very few, since less than 1% of the population are Christian, and according to the numbers he supplied to me only .3% of the population is Christian. The group he is a part of came about 70 years ago in Thailand and how has 4,000 members although only 1,000 are active Christians that have a real Christian life as he called it. He deeply believed that it is the work of God to bring people to his Church and he wants to bring this faith to people truly, in order to help them be saved in the light of God as a part of his εκκλησία, so the calling as etymologically he was quick to explain. He also told me that it is very easy for Thai people to be converted. They would be baptized easily but when their family puts pressure on them to go back to the temple and they have to refuse to worship the “idols” in their temples they fall back into their old ways. The motto of his group is ONENESS and this is the way to connect with all. For him miracles are a fruit of divine life that he shares as a Christian and yet at the same time it is Grace itself that brings the miracles to him. After this interview he invited me to read from the Holy Text and he was glad for my knowledge of Ancient Greek so we can read in Ancient Greek together.  In Pictures 1 and 2 I am including the pictures of the items that she shared with me: an interview guide in Thai and the coupon for books.
Picture 1: interview guide in Thai

Picture 2: Coupon for Books

During the interview in order to record the responses I took copious notes. I also recorded the interviews using my iphone as a recording device. Everyone seemed to be agreeable to the recording of the interview and also reacted positively to my note taking. It seems that they were happy with my note taking since sometimes they would even read what I wrote and offer me suggestions regarding my notes. For the purposes of the methodology I took copious notes and I also recorded the interview. For the purposes of this project I simply stated the most important findings from the interview. An ethical question was risen for me at the interview. I had to switch my line of questioning in order to put him at ease and to relax my subject. Even though it was clear that this was an interview for a class project I felt that I had to pretend to be interested in the spread of Christianity as opposed to understanding how they covert people. So in essence I was not being truthful. I no wonder how I could have elicited the same responses without implying things that were not truthful. As a researcher where do I draw the line between obtaining answers by gaining the trust and confidence of my subjects and at the same time staying with the truth of who I am and what I am researching? For example in this case I would not want the person that I interviewed to read my report on him. Did I cross an ethical line I should not have crossed?
Briefly I used two more tools to complete my research. The first one was the tool of the internet. I was interested in finding out about the Church of God in Bangkok the part of the organization that is in fact registered through the Thai government and legally has the right to evangelize.
Picture 3: The Church of God in Bangkok.

On the internet I found that the Church of God in Bangkok have a goal to reach 150 new converts in 2000 (this is the information that was available). “The Church of God in Bangkok have a goal to reach 150 new converts by the year 2000. They are also cooperating with the total target of 300,000 new believers set by the Evangelical Fellowship of Thailand in its national vision for the year 2000. The church in Bangkok also plans to build a new facility when the target of 150 new converts is reached. We plan to have 600 new believers in the new building by 2006.” It is interesting to note that during my interview I was told that this is a non-denominational Christian fellowship and yet they seem to be cooperating with the Evangelical Fellowship of Thailand. Moreover I was able to find a logo listed in Picture 4.
Picture 4: logo of the Church of God.
The Church of God seems to be an active evangelical church that actively seeks conversions around the world and even through a very humble interview in a house in a little gathering there seems to be an overarching need to reach numbers. My subject had taught himself Ancient Greek through the internet in order to be able to read the Bible. He was telling me how it is easy to convert people in Thailand but it is hard to keep them over the years and that Thai people are much more interested in miracles because of their Buddhist beliefs. He did not say it but it seemed that he was considering the Hope Church of the Pentacost a competitor to his group. was the group website that seems to be referring back to a very large worldwide organization of the Antioch Church. Douglas Cowan (2014, 459-473)  explores the ways in which the internet can be used as a tool for scholarly research, and suggest that when exploring the question of a religious site online there are four main questions to explore: What? Who? How? And Why?
1.       Describe what one finds online
a.       What does a website contain? The website contains a lot of information aimed at explaining what the Church of God is.
b.      Is it interactive in any way? The website is not interactive
c.       Is it rudimentary or complex? Well-designed or not? The site even though it seems to be a part of a mammoth organization does not seem to be well designed or professional or even updated. There is information there dating back to 1997.
2.       Consider the sources of who provides the content
a.       Who is responsible for the content and to whom is it addressed? The Site seems to be hosted in Singapore under the Church of Antioch but there is no further information
b.      Is the author of the content identified? No the author is not identified
c.       Is the material original to the site or has it been reposted from another source? It seems to be original material.
d.      Who is actually assessing, using and perhaps contributing to the content? No information was available.
3.       The level of analysis offering an answer to the how of the usage
a.       How is the material being used? It seems to be purely an information site.
b.      How do content providers intend the material to be used and how do consumers actually use it? No information was available.
c.       Do they repost material elsewhere? I was not able to find further information
d.      How do providers control and manage usage? This is a static site.
e.      Do they permit open commenting or are they solely responsible for the material moderated? This is managed by them only
f.        How does online usage affect the content over time and how is this reflected in offline beliefs and practices?  No information was available.
4.       Exploring what comes out of this behavior
a.       What explains this behavior? This is consistent with the claims of my interviewee that they keep a low profile.
b.      What can we learn from it? We can learn that in fact this is part of a much larger organization that wants to save people from idolatry.
c.       How do we explain these patterns of internet usage? Not defined
d.      What does this tells us about the nature of religion online, offline and the relationship between them. This is a site that connects many people around the world.

Online participation numbers are also something that Cowan (2014, 459-473)   cautions the researcher about as these numbers may be fictitious at best. I do have a question in my mind that if this is such an active site church that is part of converting thousands of people I wonder if their website might be a bit more updated.
Last I used briefly the tool of discourse analysis that Titus Hjelm (2014, 134-150) was suggesting: “Discourse analysis is the study of how to do things with words”, it is a technique used in many disciplines and it has also a clear and definite application in religious studies. Discourse is here taken in the narrow sense of the term of the social and scientific uses of the concept. In this sense discourse is constitutive and it has a function, and the author explores the action orientation that discourse can take. For the purposes of this project Critical Discourse Analysis was used specifically to explore how this website refers to dynamics of power by mentioning the very impressive number of 300,000 converts in Thailand when there are only 20 people in Salaya for example. Power is expressed in a hegemonic discourse, a discourse expressing a peak ideology where all other ideologies are suppressed. Unmasking is the technique of uncovering what was not said and links ideologies to mystification or misrecognition and I used this technique in this project to see what if any of their claims corresponds to reality. In that sense the questions of how is variety suppressed and how hegemony is produced was explored and I am found really questioning what I am reading on the website.
In conclusion this project explored a very important feature of anthropological research in religious studies and that is that any tool cannot be used in a vacuum. Research and fieldwork demands command of multiple tools so that the subject matter can be explored in detail and so that conclusions can be reached in a way that is consistent with the initial question. This project became a combination of techniques of free listing, surveying, interviewing, discourse analysis and internet as I was exploring the question of how conversions are made. I could not solely rely on one or even two techniques because there was no answer that was emerging from this inquiry.

Cowan, D. (2014) “The Internet” pp 459-473 The Routeledge Handbook of Methods in the Study of Religion, New York: Routeledge.
Davidson Bremborg, A. (2014) “Interviewing” pp 310-322 The Routtledge Handbook of Research Methods in the Study of Religion. New York: Routeledge.
Hjem, T. (2014) “Disource Analysis” pp 134-150 The Routeledge Handbook of Methods in the Study of Religion, New York: Routeledge.
Navarro-Riverra, J. and Kosmin, B. A. (2014) “Surveys and Questionnaires” pp. 395-420 The Routtledge Handbook of Research Methods in the Study of Religion, New York: Routeledge.
Stausberg, M. (2014) “Free Listing” pp. 245-255 The Routtledge Handbook of Research Methods in the Study of Religion, New York: Routeledge.

Appendix 1: Excerpt from the website of the Church of God in Asia and Pacific.
Praise the Lord for many things we learned and experienced within the past eight months of this year. Many new lessons are vital that come out of new vision and revelation of the Lord. The year 2000 is not for ahead as time goes by quickly but the progress of our church growth seems to creep unbalancingly in comparison to the segment of time and population growth.
For Thailand, praise the Lord by grace. The door is wider opened for evangelism. Two years ago a government television channel offered 30 minutes for Christian broadcasting. And it has been going on well since. Recently, another cable television that belongs to a private television network company offered one channel for Christian program, the whole use of 24 hours a day for free. This cable TV. company broadcast through satellite C-ban and KU ban technology for both in Thai and / or other languages. The only problem arises now is how we can produce qualified program adequately each day for years. (The first term is 3 year and after evaluation then, it will continue another 17 years on the second term). The immediate inadequate and shortage for us, Protestant churches, is both qualified personnel to manage or produce the program and financial support. The great opportunity for Christian television broadcasting has come. How we can take and do it for the most and the best out of it, is another question.
Asian Mission Congress II (AMC II)
After the first Asian Mission Congress that was held in Seoul, Korea six years ago, now the Executive Committee of AMC II has decided to hold the second AMC in Thailand. The Evangelical Fellowship of Thailand led by Rev. Silawech Kanjanamukda, the chairman, approved to host this special gathering of delegates up to 500 persons at YMCA Bangkok during September 22-26, 1997. Special Project on Leadership Training Leadership training is the most crucial need for us, Church of God in Thailand. While some leaders have left the Church of God, the remaining is so minimal but the task is so great to fulfill the ministry that we have started in various areas. The cry for someone to come and help us as missionary is being shouted again. Leadership training is the major project we have done continuously, but, still it is not successful in a term of quality and loyalty. However we have to go on praying, seeking and knocking the door for new qualified leaders. Meanwhile we also pray that the lord will call and provide someone who hears his voice and has this vision to come and help us as a trainer on the four-year special project leadership training. The training will involve mainly on Christian education, family life, and youth people.
United Missions Farm (UMF)
The three fold purposes of our UMF are being more well known among church people in Thailand.
  • Training Center is now being developed to be more useful as a retreat center, also where the individual, family, and groups meeting are able to use the facilities.
  • Social welfare is well recognized by our neighbors people in the villages nearby familiar with our Young Friend Project. ( The project for children in cooperation with "Child of Promise", The Church of God U.S.A.) . The evangelistic outreach programs are going on peacefully through these children of the project.
  • Agriculture is one of our self - support projects.
    There are now three families work very hard in the farming section to produce crops and local fruits. Even though the farming equipment is rather old type and more primitive, we hope that in the near future they will be getting better and improved.

by Silawech Kanjanamukda
The Church of God in Thailand has been very busy with activities during the past six months. Among these, two youth camps were conducted during the summer. The first one emphasized spiritual enrichment and stewardship and was conducted at the Lumplaimart Church of God.
At this eight-day camp, the young people who came from several different parts of the country spent time together in Bible study, leadership training, and fellowship.
The second camp, called the First English Youth Camp, was held at UMF Christian Center, Hanka. This ten-day camp emphasized the total growth of body, mind, and spirit. It was also designed to help the youth prepare for a future international youth camp.
Our annual retreat for pastors and their families was conducted at Sukhothai Church of God, April 22-26. Even though the church there has only a small facility, the members of the congregation were very generous hosts. We were all very pleased and blessed by this special time of retreat together. Sukhothai Church is now planning to build a full sanctuary. Please pray for this effort.
Praise the Lord that the Church of God in Hanka town has a new pastor, Pleon Chareonsri. He and his family have moved from the north with a vital vision to do pastoral work and to pursue further education in order to upgrade his ability to serve the Lord.
The Church of God in Bangkok have a goal to reach 150 new converts by the year 2000. They are also cooperating with the total target of 300,000 new believers set by the Evangelical Fellowship of Thailand in its national vision for the year 2000. The church in Bangkok also plans to build a new facility when the target of 150 new converts is reached. We plan to have 600 new believers in the new building by 2006.
The Evangelical Fellowship of Asia (EFA) will conduct its Second Asian Mission Conference in Thailand, September 22-26, 1997. The Church of God will cooperate in this significant meeting. Please pray for us.

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