Chiang Mai is one of the unique cities in the world. It is a hub location for Christian and missionary ministries and organizations in the middle of Asia. It possesses great infrastructure attracting major Christian conferences. Millions come each year for holiday and tourism & thousands for Christian conferences. Thailand at present continues to be open to foreigners though it is, percentage-wise, the most unreached nation in its part of South East Asia. These factors contribute to Chiang Mai’s unique set up. They also make it a city of unique opportunity.
God has specific purposes for cities. His overarching purpose is the Kingdom of God operating in a growing degree through the lives of His people. He desires all to have a consistent opportunity to receive a living witness which is both culturally relevant and Spirit-empowered. Yet we need to discern the specific “redemptive purposes” of God for cities. God has a specific vision in His heart for Thailand in general and for Chiang Mai specifically. What is this purpose?
One way to discern this purpose is by looking at what a city has become in the natural realm. We gain insight into God’s spiritual purpose for Chiang Mai by observing what she is known for naturally. Tourism, relaxation, rejuvenation, colleges, sacred Buddhist temples, handicrafts, cooking lessons, being a “sanctuary,” having a laid back spirit and more make Chiang Mai a magnet for both Thais and foreign ex-pats alike.
It is becoming more common to hear believers talk about Chiang Mai as a crucial city in the purposes of God for the South East Asia region and world. Many sense the Lord desiring to bring a spiritual counterpart to the natural characteristics above. A growing sentiment is the Holy Spirit intends to make Chiang Mai a thriving spiritual renewal center similar to the way it is naturally known as a cultural center.
As God’s people in Chiang Mai (across ministries, organizations, churches, affiliations, etc) operate in a spirit of unity in prayer, the change will take place. Psalm 133 reveals a promise God holds Himself to. “How good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity…the there the Lord commands the blessing – life forevermore.” If we will do our part (uniting in prayer for the bigger picture of what God wants to bring), He will do His part (command the release of the blessing of life forevermore).
In time, this work of the Spirit will drive out trafficking in its various forms. As contextualized approaches to Buddhist evangelism grow, thousands of ethnic Thai’s will come to saving faith. New forms of culturally contextual Thai churches will emerge. Restoration & rejuvenation of Thai and missionary families/marriages will be taught and known. Healing & restoration of sexual identity & orientation according to God’s intention will be experienced.
Chiang Mai already has the highest percentage of Thai believers in the country. This will continue to grow and Spirit-empowered ministry teams (Thai & Expat) will go from Chiang Mai as a blessing to the nation and region. The Thai church will become activated in a culturally relevant cross-cultural mission to its own unreached and those in neighboring nations. The Christian community (Thai & Expat) will reflect God’s righteousness and Chiang Mai’s government officials will seek counsel and help from her in shaping and enforcing just laws.
Spiritual equipping, refreshment and renewal will characterize every conference, seminar, and retreat held in the city in an increasing way. Chiang Mai will be a center of spiritual feeding for Jesus’ global body. Many will come and go awakened and revived as true disciples. More will participate with mission, evangelism, prayer, Bible training here and be conduits of His presence back to their home ministries and nations. Chiang Mai will be a great blessing to all of Asia and the world. It will be a “dwelling place of the Lord” in Asia.
Obviously, these “redemptive purposes” do not come about on their own. We wrestle, contend, declare, and spiritually fight for them through the place of prayer. This is our role and calling. No one is aware of the timing of these breakthroughs. It could be weeks, months, years, even decades. But the Lord promises that persistent prayer, in line with His will, mixed with faith, will in time be answered in a glorious way. Much depends on the response of the people of God and our commitment to remain faithful over time. We do not dictate to God the timeframes but cooperate with His conditions, leaving the timing to Him.
The enemy, in his own wisdom, sees the natural character of the city and can discern the Lord’s plans as well. He has sought to derail them by motivating & emboldening sin, self-centeredness and a desire for pleasure. This has resulted in the true “redemptive purposes” over Chiang Mai becoming unclear and muddied. As those God has settled in or brought to this city, it is the calling of every local church (Thai & international), ministry and organization, school, training program and individual to personalize the burden of contending in prayer for the realization of His true purposes. There is a measure of responsibility and spiritual accountability on all of us who call on the name of the Lord.
We are not talking about praying for a specific ministry. We are definitely called to this as individual members of particular churches/ ministries. However, as the corporate, unified body of Christ in Chiang Mai, we have a calling to pray into being the “redemptive purposes” in this city, across Thailand and for global harvest among the unreached of the earth, culminating in the fulfillment of the Great Commission in this generation. We pray into being the greatest revival in history and push back the tide of spiritual darkness. Our ministries, obviously, play a key role in this yet we extend our prayer capacity to lay hold of the big picture of what the Holy Spirit has on His agenda in prayer across the body.