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Getting to Know Efraín and Sujen

Interview and translation from Spanish by Dan, an RMM worker in Thailand

Efraín and Sujen are based in the city of Bangkok where Efraín is a third year student of English at a university and Sujen relates to Thai people and does hosting. They facilitate a small fellowship of Thai and Chinese people which often meets in their home. Efraín and Sujen are also discipling friends from a neighboring country, both in Bangkok and in their home areas.

Where are you from?
Tell us what your home area is like.

We come from a community called Las Palmas in rural Boaco, Nicaragua, which is 20 kilometers from Las Maderas. It is a quiet community without electricity and there are no roads into the community so we mainly use horses to travel. My wife is from a town in Carazo, Nicaragua called Jinotepe. It is a beautiful and happy place with a very nice climate.

Why did you decide to leave your home and work in Thailand?

We decided to come to Thailand because we saw the need for Jesus that exists here, and there are few people who are sharing the love of God in this region. Also we have felt the strong call of God for us to work in missions and we enjoy working with the team in Thailand. We feel loved by all of our brothers and sisters. We also like Thailand where there are many friendly people.

What is the most different aspect of the culture?

Regarding cultural differences, Nicaraguan Christians don’t worry about the future since we have faith that God will be with us in every situation to fulfill the plans he has for our lives. But Thai people are fearful of the future and feel insecure. It is difficult for them to make important life decisions. So they offer sacrifices to Buddha to get favors in life, work and for the future. Faithful Buddhists will go to the temple frequently to make merit and they also wear amulets around their necks to protect them from evil spirits. They believe in good and evil spirits (animistic thought) and they hope for the blessing of good spirits through the amulets they wear. But we are confident that our lives are in God’s hands.

What is something that the culture has taught you and that you want to internalize?

Something we like about Thai culture is that even though they don’t know Jesus, they like to help other people. They are very kind and gracious, on buses or trains they always offer their seats to women, children, or elderly people. If someone isn’t familiar with a certain place, they help them around. In contrast to our more noisy culture, Thai people are very calm and quiet in public; they like to help others, and when they eat, they like to eat in friendly groups. One of the first things that impressed me in Bangkok was to see a group of people seated at tables on the sidewalk of the city sharing their food together. When we go to the gas station to visit our friends working there, we get in line to board the train and those who arrived first and those arriving later all get aboard calmly without rushing. We like to travel on public transportation as it offers us a chance to get to know Thai people and learn from their polite manners. These are some positive aspects of their culture.

What are some of your favorite things to do for fun?

As a couple we like to just relax at home. Sometimes we watch movies together either at home or at the movie theater. We have a favorite Thai restaurant where we eat at least once a week. We also like to go out for walks together. Now that my wife is five months pregnant, she likes to eat special things like ice cream and fruit drinks, and I always like my coffee. At home, we cook Thai and Nicaraguan food. Sujen cooks Thai style chicken soup, noodles, spicy Thai soup and other dishes. She has learned how to cook from our Thai friends, including food from Northeast Thailand (Isaan) which is among our favorite foods.

What’s your favorite local food?

We like the food here very much and it is very different from western food. It has many spicy flavors and lots of variety, and it is also very cheap of course. We can buy a meal for 40 baht (just over a dollar), but in our country food is a lot more expensive.

What is the heart of what you are doing in Thailand?

We are doing many things to share Jesus with Thai people and individuals from neighboring countries. The most important thing we do is build up the leaders (who have come to faith) so they can share the love of Jesus more effectively with many people.

What parts of your life and work do you find the most challenging?

One of the most difficult things is that we miss our families—especially during this time of pregnancy when we feel alone. Also we feel alone since there are only three of us on our team presently—the two of us and Dan. I also feel the heavy responsibility of the ministry.

What are some barriers to Thai people knowing Jesus?

For Thai young people, the most difficult thing is for them to follow Jesus constantly because they have difficulty controlling their emotions and that leads them to distance themselves from God. Then they have difficulty giving their lives fully to God because they are not used to making a full commitment to anyone. Since they feel emptiness in their lives, they try to fill this void with things such as fun events, immorality, liquor, etc., using these things as a way of escaping reality.

How should we be praying for Thais? Do you have particular friends we can pray for?

  • It is important to pray that Thai believers in Jesus will have a stronger commitment to Jesus
  • Pray for Kiat that God will help him share Jesus with his friends
  • Pray for Geat who has been having health problems and is struggling with that
  • Pray for our believer friends living outside of Thailand that God will give them strength and wisdom to live in a situation where there is pressure on Christians from the government and local people. Pray also that God will help them in local outreach to open Bible studies with people in other communities, such as one that just began in Lan’s community and a neighboring community of another believer called Bun. Also pray for Cham who is teaching the Bible to children in her community
  • Pray for us that we can be effective in sharing our faith with people we know such as Sujen’s language teacher named Tam; Mim (a male student); Don (a Muslim), and his Chinese girlfriend Meili; and Jim, a Chinese Christian sharing his faith on campus
  • Pray also for a group of Cambodian workers (Buddhists) who live nearby. We have been sharing with them and are planning a Christmas Eve celebration with them
  • Pray for Taa (a believer from bordering country) in Bang Na who is sharing his faith with the family of his girlfriend since she wants him to share openly with her family

What is the most recent prayer that God has answered in your life?

God has supported us to come back to Thailand after I had to have chemotherapy (in Nicaragua) to treat leukemia for nearly two years. God restored my health and kept my spirit up with a desire to return to Thailand to work with Thai people together with our team. God has answered many prayers. Our families in Nicaragua are well and God has kept them in his care. They are very happy because when we go back to visit Nicaragua after the birth of our daughter—God willing next February—there will be three of us instead of two. We want to thank those of you who support us here and pray that God will bless you in many ways.

What is God teaching you right now?

My wife is five months pregnant and thanks to God, she and the baby girl are both healthy. We miss our team members (presently not in Thailand) and we await their return. God has taught us to wait on him and his plan and will for us, and even more to depend on him. We have had visits from other Christian brothers and sisters who have come to see us during this time, to pray for us and the work we are doing here and that has given us renewed strength.

Anything else you’d like to share?

We are thankful to you who bless us with your friendship and prayers.