The goal was to hand out Bibles and Christian literature to Chinese tourists. But for seven missionaries from First Baptist Church of Jacksboro (FBCJ), their trip to Thailand turned out to be more when anti-government protestors overtook the airports. Suddenly the mission was to just return home.
“It never felt so good to get home,” said Paula LeJeune.
The missionary trip had originally been set for a week, but after the airports were shut down in Bangkok, the extra days began adding up. The original departure date to return home to the states was Nov. 27. But the missionaries were unable to return till Dec. 3. Due to unavailable airline space, two of the team members were delayed two additional days and could not return till Dec. 5.
The group arrived in Thailand on Nov. 20 before anti-government protesters took control of the international airport in Bangkok six days later.
Thailand has been in upheaval since the 2007 election of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat.
While the turmoil was going on, FBCJ’s missionary group was busy spreading the word about Christianity to the Chinese people visiting Thailand.
“The Chinese people have a very limited access to Bibles,” said Morris, explaining it was illegal to distribute Bibles in China.
“There’s a big opportunity to minister to the Chinese people over there,” said Delynn Boshears. This was his third mission trip.
Though it is not allowed to distribute Bibles in China, the Chinese people are allowed to take the Bibles back to China, one at a time, according to Paula LeJeune.
Handing out Bibles is not all the group did while over there.
They also ministered to the Thai people living in the poverty of the shantytowns.
They took rice, beans and cooking oil and sang and performed skits for the local Thais.
“It really made me realize how blessed we are. We eat in a day, what they eat in a week; it was very humbling,” said Renee Bennett somberly.
She vividly described the slum shantytowns backing right up to the tall resorts and hotels.
“We have nothing to complain about- we have it so good here,” Renee Bennett continued.
“We were very grateful how every thing was timed, it all worked out,” said Paula LeJeune.
“None of the missionaries were harmed, just in fear of getting home,” said Don Messer, FBCJ’s coordinator of missions.
Five of the missionaries returned last Wednesday, with Paula and her husband Marc returning on Friday via a different route.
The missionary group consisted of Rev. Bill Morris, Marc and Paula LeJeune, Ben and Renee Bennett, Brian Tanis and Delynn Boshears.
“Our pastor, had served in Cambodia previously and honestly without his knowledge of the area, I don’t think we would have got out,” stated Paula LeJeune.
And get out they finally did. But it took a 12-hour bus ride and seeing much more of the region on the way to Cambodia where they had made arrangements to fly out from.
“The Lord really opened up a better way for us,” said FBCJ’s Pastor Bill Morris.
If they had not been able to fly out via Cambodia, they would have had to travel by bus for 38-hours to another airport in the region.
“It would have taken us another week to get out probably,” said Paula LeJeune.
After barely being home a week, the missionary team is already discussing another trip back to Thailand in September.
“It’s awesome being part of a mission minded church,” said Marc LeJeune.
“The whole experience was wonderful, I recommend everyone get out of the boat and go experience it,” said Boshears.
“It’s not just the effort of the people getting on the plane, it’s the whole church,” said Morris, explaining how the church supported the ministries by holding fundraisers and offering prayer support.
“I was so grateful to get in before the protests started. We really were able to get in everything we set out to do and reached our goals,” said Paula LeJeune.
While in Thailand, the missionaries handed out 500 Bibles, not to mention various other Christian literatures.
“It was wonderful to see that after the Chinese accepted the Bible, they were so excited to open it and see it,” said Ben Bennett.