Guest post by Larry Dinkins
Despite being the most scrutinized pandemic in history, the Corona Virus leaves numerous questions unanswered. Many of these questions will no doubt remain unanswered, but there is one that topped the list with SARS as well as Ebola and remains the key question with this present virus: Precisely how did Covid-19 originate? The answer to this $64,000 question could go a long way in helping remove the source of the next potentially devastating global pandemic. Helping scientists in this task has been the work done by Chinese researchers in 2017 who traced the last Corona type pandemic (SARS) “ … through the intermediary of civets to cave-dwelling horseshoe bats in Yunnan province.” In the case of Covid-19 most research points to the wet-markets of Wuhan province that sell live animals like bats and pangolins. The mention of people eating such exotic animals is actually addressed in the Old Testament and has caused me to look afresh at what the Bible has to say about Old Testament dietary laws.
Kim, Samuel I., The Unfinished Mission in Thailand: The Uncertain Christian Impact on the Buddhist Heartland, Seoul: East-West Center for Missions Research and Development, 1980
There are not too many books on the history of the church in Thailand and my most common go-to books are S.G. McFarland’s Historical Sketch of Protestant Missions 1828-1928 and Alex Smith’s Siamese Gold, which brings the story of the Thai church up to 1982. Both books, however, do a better job with chronicling earlier Thai church history (pre-WWII) than post-war. Truth be told, Smith’s book does cover the post-war period, though he provides more information on evangelical missions working apart from the Church of Christ in Thailand (CCT) than he does the CCT itself. Kenneth Wells’ History of Protestant Work in Thailand, 1828-1958 is somewhat useful if you want an official sanitized version of the American Presbyterian Mission and CCT in the post-war period but if you compare Wells’ book with Samuel Kim’s The Unfinished Mission in Thailand: The Uncertain Christian Impact on the Buddhist Heartland, it becomes immediately obvious that there is a lot of dirty laundry that Wells left out.
Samuel Kim begins his book with a couple of general chapters discussing Thailand, Buddhism, and the history of Christian missions in Thailand up through WWII, most of which you can easily find in the other books I’ve just mentioned. However, beginning with chapter 3, he begins discussing tensions between the American Presbyterian missionaries and Thai Christians leaders after World War II up through the late 1970s. It is this second part of the book that is the most valuable and forms Kim’s unique contribution to understanding the history of Christianity in Thailand.
On August 4, 1851 a unique opportunity opened up for Mrs. Sarah Bradley and a couple of other missionary women in Bangkok. It was a chance that any missionary would have jumped at, but also one that needed to be managed well… which it wasn’t, as will be seen.
Despite the general neglect of women’s education in mid-nineteenth century Thailand, King Mongkut (Rama IV) invited Mrs. Mary Mattoon, Mrs. Sarah Bradley, and Mrs. Sarah Jones to teach English to his wives and other women in the royal palace. The king was a forward-looking and modern-minded monarch who was eager to gain Western knowledge from missionaries and other Westerners. Previously, missionary Jesse Caswell had been a private tutor to the king and as a result King Mongkut became quite adept in English and was eager for others in the royal household to learn English as well.