Ever since Stefan and Tina became Christians they felt the call to the poor. Before coming to Thailand they had a wonderful ministry with the homeless and drug addicts in London. But after 10 years God stirred their hearts to move to a poorer country where there is no help from the government or social services. God lead them to Chiang Mai and opened a door into a poor community where they rented a house where God said, “This is where My heart is.” For the first year they befriended and loved their neighbors. They had birthday parties, went for outings and used any opportunity to bless them. But very often the poor neighbors blessed them with things first which became a “fun competition” of mutual giving. They learned the Thai language from those in their community.
In time it became obvious that they were called to establish a more permanent ministry site, a safe place for neighbors and children, that became known as Kham Siri which is a Buddhist term meaning ‘word of blessing’ and is also the name of their community in Chiang Mai. As they continued to serve the community for several years they became very involved in their lives. Stefan and Tina are biased toward the poor and marginalized and to these people God has called them. Work is hard to find in their poor urban area and many people come into the city to find employment. As a result, the Kham Siri area has become an area of despair and underground employment, much of it involved in various illegal activities in the Chiang Mai area.
God is good and has allowed them to walk with several members of the Kham Siri community as they have become believers. These new believers have left their undesirable employment situation and desire to work and support their families with a wholesome job. That is hard to do as many lack education, citizenship, and skills for successful employment.
As the ministry has grown and changed over time they have built up some experience with urban food production. Opportunities and skills of Kham Siri ministry friends have made the idea of larger scale food production and distribution an obvious idea. God seems to be strongly directing Stefan and Tina towards this as a way to continue to serve and disciple the people of Kham Siri.
The first people successfully coming out of the economic dysfunction of the Kham Siri community are from Burma who have taken political and economic refuge in the city of Chiang Mai. Some of them have in depth knowledge of regional agricultural practices. A recently returned short-term teammate helped build the first equipment and facilities. Now we have been able to develop a small agricultural project at the Kham Siri center where we raise fish, frogs, and vegetables using the expertise of a Burmese family who have come out of a desperate living situation. Other people are helping setup the food distribution methods. These divine threads have come together to prepare and fine-tune the idea and implementation of this project.”