Building Community as a Volunteer in Thailand
I was welcomed into the CCT (Church of Christ in Thailand) Volunteer Program this summer even though I only had six weeks to be in Thailand. I had lived and worked in Thailand many years ago as a missionary, so I had some language and understanding of the Thai culture, but I had never seen the Christian Volunteers in Thailand (CVT) program in action.
I was welcomed into the CCT (Church of Christ in Thailand) Volunteer Program this summer even though I only had six weeks to be in Thailand. I had lived and worked in Thailand many years ago as a missionary, so I had some language and understanding of the Thai culture, but I had never seen the Christian Volunteers in Thailand (CVT) program in action. What a unique opportunity I had to meet volunteers of all ages from many different countries (India, Australia, United Kingdom and USA). These volunteers represented different Christian denominations that connect with CCT for service in Thailand. Mostly, the volunteers have two year assignments to teach at schools affiliated with the Church of Christ in Thailand. I was especially pleased to meet Ben Ewert and Nicole Betteridge – two CVTs sent and supported by Global Ministries.
Rev. Dr. Sharon Bryant, Ecumenical Officer for the CCT and the Volunteer Coordinator, helped me learn about the work of the volunteers (CVTs) by inviting me to the August retreat. In a lovely southern Thai seaside retreat setting, volunteers from the far north, the far south and the central part of the country, gathered to experience Sabbath rest. Yes, it was a time for rest, relaxation and spiritual renewal. There was time for walks on the beach and swims in the ocean; there was communal time for worship and singing and enjoyment of table fellowship.
The retreat week was also packed with useful practical matters. There was time for building community by sharing lessons plans for class room use, talking about how to practice good communication skills, and remembering the fundamentals of how to work with children and youth in an educational setting. Working in a language, culture, and school setting somewhat foreign to one’s own background has its challenges, but these CVTs were amazingly dedicated to the task.
The CVTs appreciated the time away from their “usual” work week but, when the week ended, they were ready for re-immersion into the demands of their unique school settings. I appreciated the time to be away from my own pastoral duties so I could meet these CVTs and be thankful for the “blessing” they are to us and the Church of Christ in Thailand. If you have chance, invite them to speak at your church and hear their stories.
I lift each CVT in my prayers and hope I may encourage people (of all ages) to seek service with Global Ministries in one such ministry. Thank you to Global Ministries for making this special short term volunteer opportunity in Thailand possible for me!
Rev. Dr. Ann M. Rogers-Brigham, pastor of Congregational Church of Almaden Valley, UCC, in San Jose, CA, served as a Short Term Volunteer in Thailand with CCT from July 28-Sept 8, 2014.