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Lead Pastor Vision Trips | Thailand

In 2018 the Barna Group published the results of a survey conducted among American churchgoers regarding the Great Commission. Participants were asked, “Have you heard of the Great Commission?” Fifty-One percent answered, “no.” Only 17% had heard of it and could articulate its meaning. The results also showed that the younger the churchgoer, the less familiar they were with it. Yet responding affirmatively to Jesus’ command to “go” has never been more accessible. Nearly all American Christ-followers can go; it’s mostly a question of duration.

The Assemblies of God was founded as a missions movement and we are part of a district filled with missions-minded leaders. From AIM teams to local church trips, Minnesotans of all ages travel the world to participate in missions work. Short-term trips create lifelong connections to missions lived out through giving and going. Many of our current missionaries first felt a call to full-time missions work on these trips.

Though COVID-19 postponed lead pastor vision trips, last month one of those delayed trips became a reality. Eight lead pastors traveled with Superintendent Mark Dean to Thailand to see what God is doing in the Buddhist world. Their host was Mark Durene, a Minnesota missionary who is spear-heading an initiative called “Change the Map“.

The mission of Change the Map is to “inspire and resource the Church to transform the Buddhist world through prayer and action.” The goal is to enlist 50,000 people who will commit to pray every week for the Buddhist world. It is estimated there could be over 1 billion Buddhists concentrated in southeast Asia. In Thailand over 90% of the population is Buddhist and less than 1% are evangelical Christian. The team spent time in Chiang Mai and Bangkok visiting temples and shrines; learning about ways to lead others to pray for the Buddhist world. They were accompanied by Paul and Robyn Kramer, Minnesota missionaries who years ago, felt called to the mission field through a short-term trip with their local church.

The District will continue to coordinate vision trips for leaders and help pastors provide opportunities for people in their church to give and go. Our hope is to raise up Christ followers who not only know the Great Commission, but who help fulfill it.