Gospel for everyday life: In Thailand, outreach work is done while enjoying a cup of coffee
The enticing aroma of coffee beans spreads in a Bangkok café. However, the most important thing for the employees of this cafe is to spread the scent of knowing Christ. The goal of the business is to be financially profitable without compromising the message.
Markus Nordblom is doing mission work in the heart of Bangkok with the goal of making connections through everyday encounters. One of the meeting places is the Entrance Activity Center, which offers English lessons as well as sports and boardgame evenings. The center is also a popular café and music studio. The café and studio services are intended to generate sufficient income to make the operations center financially profitable. This is a so-called business as mission operating model.
Nordblom states that contacting the café’s customers is easy. The studio, on the other hand, does audio advertising, music recordings, podcasts, and video production for customers. The business is done professionally, but the main goal of the activity is more meaningful: to influence people’s lives, all the way to eternity.
A profession and a connection to God are available
The café offers young people a springboard to work life. According to Nordblom the café serves as an internship place for students. The partner Church is Thailand’s Full Gospel Church, through whose youth workers the café’s internships have been filled. In this way, students from very different backgrounds get a profession, but also become involved in the weekly activities of the center and thus get spiritual exposure. The Full Gospel Pentecostal Church in Thailand has 160 congregations and about 8,000 members around Thailand.
The baristas in the café are practically barista-evangelists, i.e., they are professional baristas, but they have also completed Bible training. Young people from church also come to the cafeteria to both learn how to reach people with the gospel as well as to learn an occupation.
The activity Centre’s studio serves as an official internship place for university media students. An internship of one to three months gives a possibility for close fellowship with young people while strengthening the professional skills as well.
Internship can change a whole life
Nordblom shares a story about the changing power of the café’s operating model. In October 2020, a 24-year-old man named Sathit Buathongkongwu arrived from Central Thailand for training. In addition to learning Barista work, trainees participate in Christian teaching sessions. Every morning a devotion is held with prayer and Bible reading. The devotion is not perceived in Thailand as a negative thing that needs to be explained, as spirituality is generally welcomed.
The devotions may stretch into long conversations. Sathit had previously heard of Jesus, but Jesus was, for him – like to many other Thais – only one more deity, among others. Spiritual discussions sometimes take place during work. This was also the case during Sathit’s training. According to Nordblom, the main barista of the Entrance café, Ronnachai Huppasai, has a special gift to approach people, build relationships, and share his faith through his own life. Sathit saw that Ronnachai didn’t only talk, but he also lived up to what he said. Sathit says that it was Ronnachai’s faith in everyday life that spoke to him. Ronnachai, on the other hand, had made progress in his own life with the help of Fida’s child sponsorship support.
Sathit was in the cafe for about a month. After returning home from an internship, he sent a message to the barista team that he had decided to follow Jesus. A couple of months later he was already baptized. Currently, Sathit serves in a similar café recently established by a congregation in central Thailand. Through it, he wants to reach local youth in the same way that he himself came into contact with Christians. The scent of Christ is spreading.
Pictured from left to right: Surachai Sereewanich, Sathit Buathongkongwu, and Ronnachai Huppasai