TONGLOI | PHA PHUN DONG | MAERAMIT
Although the small villages of Omkoi are hidden in mountainous regions and travelling there is very difficult, these obstacles did not hinder Christ’s love from reaching these villages. The three churches of Omkoi in Chiang Mai are located in Karen Po hill tribe villages: Tongloi, Pha Phun Dong and Maeramit. The church was started in 1998 by the collaborative efforts of Church of Good Shepherd (Singapore) and New Life Organisation in Thailand (Chiang Mai). A preliminary survey team was sent to search for villages without any churches. Interns such as Ps Chamrat Tairattanamongkol were sent to share the gospel and plant churches. During that time, Church of Good Shepherd also sent regular (yearly) medical and mission teams to these villages.
The preaching of the gospel met with much opposition. For instance, villagers threw stones at an evangelistic movie event. They believed that Christianity went against their local beliefs and were afraid that the presence of any Christians would bring bad luck to the community. Although the villagers called for the Christians to leave, the believers in their midst stayed, tried to reconcile, bore good witness, and patiently explained to those who opposed them for many years. Finally, the villagers started to accept them. More became Christians from other nearby villages too. Today, many Christians play important roles in the community and are respected in the villages.
As the number of believers grew, church buildings were constructed for worship services in the three villages. As the tribal churches grew, they needed more support and the leaders saw fit to transfer these churches from New Life Organisation over to be better taken care of under the Anglican Church in Thailand (ACT). In 2002, Ven. Gerald Khoo welcomed Omkoi Church officially as a member of ACT.
Serving in a remote area is no easy task, leaders often feel isolated and discouraged, especially when the response is less favourable. In the first 10 years, 4 pastors resigned, leaving only Ps Puwasak and his family to oversee all 3 churches. Later, God provided Ps Suwan Pusa to serve alongside. The congregation is gradually growing in faith just like the trees and flowers growing around the churches.