Steve and Bethany (Tobin) Horst (Anjali, Emmanuel, Tierzah)
Serving in: Bangkok, Thailand
Program name: Long-term service
- Serving since:
Steve and Bethany are working at evangelism and discipleship among Isaan migrant workers in Bangkok, in partnership with the Life Enrichment Church. They serve in partnership with Eastern Mennonite Missions.
Bangkok, like many global metropolises, attracts countless persons who migrate to the city, looking for work and opportunity. Many of these migrants come from the Isaan region of Thailand, a rural, farming region. When these villagers arrive to the Bangkok region of 14 million people, they encounter a vastly different world than they have known, full of the best and worst civilization can offer.
Bethany grew up as a “missionary kid” in the Isaan region where there is a vibrant house-church movement. Through ongoing Isaan connection, the Bangkok team is well-positioned to connect with Isaan migrants, to disciple them as young adults and create faith communities in Bangkok. Having completed intensive language learning in their first term, the Horsts’ vision for the second term is to form healthy disciples and missional community with Isaan young adults in Bangkok; to re-contextualize in the city the Christian community and faithful living that was modeled to them in the village. Losing Isaan youth to the city risks so much in a place notorious for human trafficking and where there is so little Christian witness. Steve and Bethany’s great desire is to reach them, for the sake of God’s kingdom coming to them, and coming to Bangkok.
From their featured Worker Profile, published in the Fall 2016 issue of Transforming:
To see a discipleship movement spread among Isaan migrant workers in Bangkok, Thailand, leaving behind a church that is authentic, can sustain itself and owns its mission, but without many monetary resources. It should be contextualized and about life-change, disciples-making-disciples in a simple church with empowered leaders. Our next step is to find the people who are longing for God’s redemption, and lead them through basic discipleship lessons. We are present to over-worked Isaan people and other destitute refugees, living in a city that boasts ostentatious luxury. We connect with so many diverse classes; it’s rather dizzying, but whether it’s the emptiness of wealth or the pressure-cooker of poverty, there’s good news to hear!
The biggest challenge is ourselves. Our faith is often small and faltering. Bangkok can be an intimidating, fatiguing place to be. Thai people are historically impervious to the gospel. Relationships are complicated by dynamics of wildly different classes and cultures. In particular, friendships in our neighborhood have been slow to grow. Our challenge in the last three years has been having hope and faith. We simply cannot do this alone. There are demonic strongholds that whisper words of condemnation and inadequacy to see us full of doubt and self-pity. The challenge is to put on the armor of God and rise up with hope that God is really going to do a miracle in bringing forth fruit from our lives here in Bangkok.
We love seeing delight on our children’s faces, and seeing their joy when we have a chance to see close friends. When our friends and neighbors drop in unannounced. When we hear and share testimonies with our Isaan brothers and sisters of what God is doing. Fresh, delicious fruit. The growing relationship with our Isaan house-helper, Pa Wan, who has been such a joy and helpful resource to have around.
A typical day:
We’re not sure there is such a thing. But a day at home generally includes a combination of housework, drop-in visits by friends and neighbors, correspondence, homeschooling, coffee, market run, prayer and Bible-study and laundry, lots of laundry. If we have an “out day” it will involve hours of commuting across the city (by foot, subway, bus, foot, motorcycle, boat, taxi, bike, and lots of walking) and meeting people whether in a small room or in a massive mall, finding food to eat, and negotiating naps and travel home. These sorts of days are “come what may.” It’s always an adventure living in Bangkok!