Ajarn Tongpan (1940-1988)… one of the founding fathers of the Evangelical Covenant Church work in Thailand
Ajarn (teacher) Tongpan was the evangelist of the three. Jim (Gustafson) and Banpote made up the rest of this trio who dared to let God’s Word be born into the Issaan culture and come alive to those who regarded Christianity as a foreign religion. We were so fortunate to be trained under these three men as they welcomed us into the ministry up in Udon Thani.
Ajarn Tongpan and Jim were on the founding board of the Abundant Life Center and they faithfully supported, prayed and walked us through the hills and valleys of the ministry in Bangkok. Ajarn Tongpan spoke truth with conviction and and yet with respect to those he encountered. When we moved to a new location of Bangkok to restart, Ajarn came down to lead our house blessing worship service and to pray over our team as we walked again in faith for the ALC ministry. Banpote recently told us after his funeral that Ajarn Tongpan attracted people to Christ with his winsome ways and broad smile, while he, himself, repelled people by his forthrightness. Ajarn Tongpan, had a long battle with kidney disease and even in the midst of hemodialysis treatments, he traveled 6 hours to the wedding of one of our ALC couple’s whose parents were quite opposed to their children becoming Christians. While the Khmer rituals were still done the first day of the wedding, the wedding ceremony was done in Issaan Christian style by Ajarn and impacted all of us who were there as they witnessed the wedding vows and the Word of God chanted and sung by this elderly statesmen.
We feel a great loss, Ajarn, at your passing but we know all of heaven rejoices at the going home of one of God’s saints. May we press on to know our God and to walk with hope for His Kingdom to come to this country.