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Church and coffee plants grow side-by-side

Goh and Oil share the gospel in their community through their coffee farming. (IMB photo)

In 1984, Goh’s family transitioned from growing opium to coffee, from sickness to health – and from spirit and idol worship to worshiping the one true God.

The king of Thailand at that time, King Rama 9, required the opium farmers in Thailand to stop growing opium. In the mountains of Thailand an initiative was started to convert the forests from opium to coffee plantations.

Goh’s family was greatly impacted by this. They had been growing opium for decades. It was a way of life for them and their community. The opium provided their livelihood as well as an important element in their tribal medicines and spirit worship. Goh’s grandfather was the leader of the spirit worship ceremonies as well as the community witch doctor. Their entire family worshiped spirits and idols.

Around this time, Goh’s brother became very sick. He was severely bloated and unable to walk. Medical doctors could not identify what was wrong with him, and Goh’s grandfather — as well as the spirits they worshiped — was unable to provide relief.

However, a local pastor claimed that Jesus could heal all of the diseases in the world. As a last resort, the family invited the pastor over to pray for their son. He came, shared the Gospel and prayed. Their son was healed. They turned from worshiping spirits to follow the only great One, Jesus Christ.

Goh and his wife, Oil, met when they were young and reconnected when Oil was in college and Goh was in seminary. Eventually, the pastor who led Goh’s family to Christ when he was a child — Oil’s father — became Goh’s father-in-law.

After Goh and Oil married, they started a coffee shop in Northern Thailand, about a 90-minute drive from the mountains where they grew up. However, their hearts were still in their hometown. When they met Stephen at their coffee shop, they shared their heart to go back to their hometown and to use coffee to reach their community with the message of Jesus Christ. They prayed, and God spurred. With Stephen’s help, they returned to their hometown to plant a church.

Today, Goh and Oil run the family’s coffee business. Their desire is to use coffee as a tool to work and do ministry in their community.

Goh spends a lot of time working with the other coffee farmers in the community and sharing the Gospel with them. Goh teaches about different coffee beans and new techniques to enhance their coffee farming abilities. They also purchase coffee beans from farmers at a higher price than others will pay. This has created ministry opportunities to share Christ in the community.

In addition to growing coffee, they’re growing a church that serves the community and shares Christ through His Word and by meeting tangible needs. More than 50 people attend the church. In the last year, almost 20 people have accepted Christ.

To learn more about how God is using coffee in Thailand to glorify Himself, visit https://www.imb.org/2021/06/30/church-planting-coffee/.

Pray for the people of Thailand, that they will come to know the one true God and be sent out to share Him with others.

Praise God that He is preparing good soil in Thailand, not just for coffee, but for the seeds of life to be planted and to produce a crop — a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown (Matthew 13:8).

David and Lark Washington* serve with the IMB among Southeast Asian peoples. (*Names changed for security.)

    About the Author

  • Daniel and Lark Washington*