The Vineyard Thailand Story

Todd Rutkowski, Aug 16, 2017, 10:01 PM
Todd Rutkowski National Catalyst of Vineyard Emerge

The first Vineyard community started in 1998 in Bangkok, Thailand. It all began after a Buddhist man named Sukit encountered Christ in a vision while in Australia for University. He later returned to Bangkok and connected with Jackie Pullinger - To in Hong Kong. Jackie, the founder of St, Stephens Society, and a Vineyard Church leader began to mentor Sukit in his faith and in relating with the poor and those in addiction. After completing a Masters degree in business in Bangkok, getting married and starting a family, Sukit worked for the British Embassy. Laid off and given a 2 year severance in 1998, Sukit & Amp found it the perfect time to plant a Vineyard community. Jackie sent a team of about 5 - 7 people from Hong Kong to help, including Damaris Drews, who would play a significant role in building friendships and community with people in the largest slum in Bangkok, Kloney Toey.

It 1999 the Canadian Vineyard's became involved in Thailand through being on a ministry trip together with the Thai Vineyard team in Malaysia. Over the next number of years the Canadians would make many trips to Thailand to build friendships, bring encouragement, support and train and invest in relationship. God was doing much in Thailand, a 97% Buddhist country. Church growth only comes by way of evangelism and most everyone in the Vineyard community has been led to Christ by Sukit and his wife Amp and the team living in Kloney Toey.

The team that lived in Kloney Toey for over a decade built relationships with over a 1000 people and saw many come to Christ. Kloney Toey is home to over 100,000 displaced people. Many have come from rural villages or surrounding countries looking for work and a better life; only to be left squatting and in survival mode or prisoners of language. Over a third of those they met died of AIDS or other diseases, due to them being in the low cast class system where they did not get the care or prevention needed.

In 2007 we held our first Thai Vineyard gathering and had close to 150 people in attendance at a retreat center outside of the city. It was at that time that the New Dawn Vineyard church acquired a large enough space in Kloney Toey (5 story building), with help from the Canadian Vineyards, to renovate the space and move into it as a community hub. It became the place for the Sunday gathering, mid week music classes, English classes. hospitality and medical center, along with a home for 7 boys and other adults that the community took into to raise together. It also provided a hub for training of others leaders and people from other parts of Thailand. It was around that time that the Rayong Vineyard (2 hours outside of Bangkok) became part of the Vineyard and later where the Vineyard community in Chiang Mai was planted among a group of teens in the slums. Later a International Vineyard started in Chiang Mai, along with a work among the Burmese immigrants in Mae sot. A district in the north western part of Thailand. Later a pastor and business woman named Pat was sent to Phuket where she started a business and is visiting people in the prisons looking to start a Vineyard community.

In 2015 the Vineyard Country House was opened outside of Bangkok (5 acres of land) to host spiritual retreats, English camps and other events for many of the kids and families in Kloney Toey, who would never otherwise leave the city. In the winter of 2016 and then again in the fall of 2016 the Thai Vineyards had their first two national gatherings of key leaders to begin to build strategy, team and a sense of purpose about the future.

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