The gospel moves at the speed of relationships

SIM UK’s Stephanie Walker

Teacher Stephanie Walker has been faithfully building relationships within the community of Chiang Mai, Thailand, since 2020.

She began serving as a teacher at Grace International School, but in October, she stepped out in faith to begin an exciting new ministry.

She took on the role of TCK coordinator for SIM Thailand and also joined SIM’s Hope for Life team, whose vision is to connect with those who are broken and hurting and give them a glimpse of God’s hope.

“I was worried about beginning a new chapter in my service, but of course, God knew what he was doing!” says Stephanie, sent by Christian Life Church, Birmingham.

“The Hope for Life team was able to use my skills to start an English education ministry with two local schools and each week, I teach English for an hour.

“With up to 100 students each time, classes can be chaotic, but they’re always great fun and the schools now allow my Thai colleagues to pray for the children at the end of each lesson and to talk about God and Jesus.

“I’m loving my new roles. It’s great getting to know the TCKs and SIM families serving here, but also, that I can continue teaching and spend time in the schools, where we also teach life skills so the children can know they’re unique, loved and valued by God.”

Stephanie also helps run English conversation classes one evening a week as part of Hope for Life’s outreach to the community surrounding Chiang Mai.

“Each course runs for six weeks,” she explains, “and we’ve had students aged from just five to as old as 80, who come from the local schools we work in, or from the community.  

“The area where we work is to the north of the city and is quite deprived with lots of immigrants and where there’s lots of brokenness; broken relationships, broken families and people who are broken because of difficult life circumstances.

“Although the students are only learning some very basic English, we have a lot of fun in the process through speaking practice and playing games. I’ve learnt that Thais love to play bingo just as much as westerners!” she adds.

Stephanie shares the gospel with help from her Thai teammate Pi Ann at the summer camp

“We celebrate the end of the course with a camp, where we have fun and give out certificates. This year, we got the chance to go to the water park where of course, the students loved soaking me in water fights!

“For me, it was exciting to share the gospel (helped by my colleague, Pi Ann, who translated) and another highlight came when one of my students, Soi, gave me the biggest hug at the end, saying, ‘Teacher Steph, today was so much fun!’

“This is even more precious when I think of her story. Soi’s 11 and lives with her aunt and grandmother because her father died when she was young, and her mother has remarried. Soi has a difficult home life and because of this often expresses a deep need for love and attention.

“I met Soi at her school and then when I started my evening English class, she was one of the first to sign up and brought her schoolfriends with her. My Thai teammates have been spending time connecting with Soi and her friends at Shalom House (our new community hub that’s run in connection with the local church) where they play games, sports, and chat together.

“Soi refers to Shalom House as her ‘safe zone’ where she feels comfortable and it’s so encouraging as she’s now joined the Hope for Life Bible study, held there on a Saturday.

Nyomie, left, from Australia, with Thai colleagues Mint and Give, work alongside Stephanie on the Hope for Life team

“It’s been really cool to see how these conversation classes have opened up opportunities to build relationships and we’re going to invite students back for the next level as they really want to continue learning English.

“I love that it’s a team effort, where I’m able to teach English and build some relationship, but my Thai team mates can connect on a deeper level with the students we work with and really build a rapport.

“Looking ahead, I’m so excited to see what other activities we can run at Shalom House, such as art, music and gardening clubs, where people will see God through what we do.”

By Kerry Allan

Please pray

  • Pray for Soi as Stephanie continues to speak hope into her life.
  • Pray seeds planted in all the students’ lives will begin to grow. 
  • Pray for Shalom House to continue as a safe place where SIM workers can further engage with the community.

This was posted on 25 June 2024 in Compassionate ministries and Young people.

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