Engaging Holistic Ministry in a Hidden Slum of Bangkok

Hidden within Bangkok’s 50+ shopping malls and extremely successful transit systems, lies the largest slum community in the district of Khlong Toei. A community of over 100,000 people from all parts of Thailand; including minority groups resides in this area. Many of these people do not own the homes in which they live, many have lived there for decades. The slum is about 1.5 square kilometers in size in an area that is relatively low and swamp-like. The tin-roofed homes are on top of stilts over stagnant, polluted water, and are especially prone to flooding during the monsoon season.

IMG_3925.jpgThe people of Khlong Toey face many problems typical of a slum area. The vicious cycle of poverty makes it hard for children and teens to break from engaging in criminal activity as well as drug and alcohol abuse. With social and financial problems, the children are often prevented from receiving a proper education, and become illiterate in their own language. Realizing this, the founders of “Kids Club”, Benjamin and Suzi, had a desire to enrich the lives of children physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Their desire eventually formed the vision and establishment of Ruam Jai Kids Club, an after-school program once a week that endeavors to regularly sow the seed of the Word of God and the Good News of Jesus.

At Kids Club, because most of the children are oral learners, they take an active learning approach to involve stories, crafts, games, and activities with all our Bible teaching curriculum. We also make sure to implement S.T.E.M. lessons for the kids to build and teach creativity, problem solving, life skills, ingenuity, resourcefulness, patience, and curiosity. The hardest part in the program is the lack of affection these children receive from their parents.

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Many of our students come seeking all the love and affection they can get from us that they are not receiving at home. Of course, the lack of affection from home manifests itself in many different ways. Our volunteers have been challenged to learn to navigate and handle those things with the kids as they work with them in our program.

It has truly been an honor and a joy to be in the presence of these children from Khlong Toei. Despite who their cultural hierarchy says they are —how their life “will” be; their innocent ignorance drives their wit, curiosity, as well as their zeal for life and propels them to rise to a better future.

Jesus says in Matthew 18:3-4, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” The humility of a child consists of childlike trust, vulnerability, the inability to advance his/her cause apart from the help, direction, and resources of a parent and/or adult. In the same way, Christ calls us all to such a posture with Him.

By: Christina, Serving in Thailand as Partnership Development Coordinator