In 2008, Nutsima travelled more than 9,000 kilometres from Thailand to London to embark on an adventure. Little did she know, she would return with much more than she had set out to discover.
I was first invited to an Alpha Party in Holy Trinity Brompton Church in London as a student by my university friends, Juliana and Nerina. It was my first visit to a church and I was surprised to find the people there friendly, hospitable, and genuine. I had always imagined churches to be filled with boring, uninteresting people. They also didn’t seem to ‘categorise’ me as an outsider and this positive experience made me return to Alpha week after week.
I felt very accepted by my small group, even when I talked about my Buddhist background and asked challenging questions. I had never experienced the kind of love they showed me – they even invited me out for meals during the week to get to know me better.
As I learnt more about Christianity, I saw how it contrasted with other religions where offerings and good deeds had to be made to atone for their sins. In the Christian faith, God sacrificed His own son as an offering that we may have salvation – independent of our deeds. It also struck me that I had never experienced the sense of having a personal relationship with my god the way they talked about Jesus. An amazing revelation I had was learning that Jesus was the only way to God, but it also made me confused and sad about my religion – what about my god?
I realised I had to find out the truth, once and for all. Yet, I was also afraid of the negative consequences and was worried about letting go of the teachings my parents had brought me up with. I prayed, “God, I don’t know who you are, but I belong to another religious group so please don’t come into my life!”
Despite all of that, I had a deep desire to keep searching and I began to read the Bible for one hour each day. I also started to attend a Bible study group and church services regularly while attending Alpha. One Sunday, the pastor asked the congregation if there was anyone who wanted to invite the Holy Spirit into their lives if they haven’t done so before. I raised my hand and he invited the entire congregation to pray for those who expressed interest. During the prayer, my eyes were closed but I felt a warm sensation in my heart. Suddenly the entire room felt very warm and I opened my eyes to make sure I was not dreaming. The feeling was so intense that I had to ask if my friends felt the same. When I told them what I felt, they said it must be God’s love touching me. For the first time I felt such a deep sense of peace and conviction in my heart, and I felt that my first question to God at Alpha (“Who are you?”) was answered then.
Soon after, on the 13th of January 2013, I followed a prayer from the ‘Why Jesus’ booklet to receive Jesus into my life. I felt the burdens I had been carrying were suddenly lifted! I continued to attend Bible Study on Tuesdays, Alpha on Wednesdays and church on Sundays. Life became very exciting, with everything this new-found faith had to offer!
In the days that followed, I had a growing sense in my heart that when I returned to Thailand, I would serve God somehow. It was like an answered prayer when I met a group of Thai delegates during the Leadership Conference in London. Before that, I didn’t know any Christians in Thailand. It felt like God was preparing the way for me as I was returning to Thailand soon.
Six months later, I returned to Bangkok. Kitti who is a staff from Alpha Thailand, introduced me to a church where my new journey began. While my faith journey was ongoing, my professional one seemed to have stalled and I had little response when applying for jobs.
It was then that Nicola, a former regional director of Alpha Asia Pacific met with me during a work trip to Bangkok. To my surprise, she offered me a job with Alpha Thailand. I was so excited, I immediately agreed and officially started work with Alpha Thailand on 1st August 2013.
When my family realised that I had become a Christian and had also accepted a position in a Christian organisation, they were deeply disappointed. I knew my faith would not be easily accepted and so, instead of trying to explain or defend myself, I kept quiet while they expressed their unhappiness towards me. Over time however, they slowly came to accept my decision because they could see that my new faith did not make me a bad person and I still loved them. Because of this, I was able to speak to them about why I had chosen this path.
My mother, assured that I would continue to love her as I always had, became much more positive. Now, when I say to her, “God bless you”, she says to me, “God bless you too!”
Even though there are many challenges as a new believer, it has also been an encouraging journey, especially now that my family is supportive of me. I know that they love me very much and I was touched when my mother told me that she was proud of me going to London to study on my own, without depending on the family for financial support. My cousin’s children have also begun asking me questions about Christianity, and I’m excited to share about Jesus with them!
I also had the opportunity to invite a close friend to try Alpha. The first time she came to Alpha, she did not believe, but after attending Alpha the second time, she believed and made the decision to be baptised. She is now part of the Alpha team at my church. It’s so amazing to see her journey with God, and I long to see more people going on this journey of discovering and coming to know God.
Although Christians make up of only 0.6% of the population in Thailand, I see it as a huge opportunity to share Christ with many people. The needs of my people motivate me to go the extra mile. My community of friends have been so encouraging as well; often reminding me of the big picture and amazing work I have been doing. I feel very privileged to work with my colleagues and the churches in Thailand. I am very thankful for their faithfulness and love and I am inspired by their passion for God.
I thank God for what He has done here in Thailand and am excited to see what's ahead as we come together and pray that prayer ‘Your Kingdom come’ here in Thailand! My country is known as the land of smiles, and it is my prayer that the people of Thailand will all truly smile one day because they have discovered true joy, which can only be found in knowing our Saviour!
Nutsima’s story was first published in Alpha Buzz. The story has been edited for the purposes of this article.