History & Vision

History

The Hopewell Network Apostolic Team sensed God was calling the Hopewell Network of Churches to develop mission efforts among an unreached people group. Out of a prayer and fasting retreat on September 15, 2005, the Hopewell Network leaders and intercessors clearly discerned that God was calling the Network to establish mission efforts in Thailand with an initial focus on the Isaan people group. This is the region where one of our own, John Hertzler, from the Hopewell Elverson congregation, gave his life in an effort to reach the Isaan people. John and his wife, Janelle, lived in Thailand until John was killed in an accident in the summer of 2005. We sensed God saying that we have an investment and a level of authority into this region because of John’s death and his effort to reach the Isaan people.

Subsequent trips to Thailand by the Hopewell Network Apostolic Team and several members of the Hopewell Asia Missions Oversight Team in March 2006 and November 2007, respectively, confirmed that God was calling the Network to start with a focus on Isaan youth in the city of Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand. Multiple prayer teams were sent in the following years to lay foundations in prayer for the developing mission efforts.

In 2012, Hopewell’s first long-term missionaries arrived in Thailand. After a year of language study, they moved to the city of Ubon Ratchathani to begin church planting among the Isaan people. CityLights Church, Hopewell's first church plant in Thailand, was started in April 2014. Various persons and teams have served on short-term and long-term mission assignments in Thailand, assisting with the ministry of CityLights Church.

Isaan People

The Isaan people group, numbering around 21 million, is Thailand’s second-largest people group. They comprise about one-third of Thailand’s total population, and are dispersed throughout 17 provinces in northeastern Thailand (covering one third of Thailand’s total land area). The Isaan region is the poorest region of Thailand due to weather conditions, poor soil quality, and a lack of development.

Many of the Isaan mix animism with Buddhism and are held captive to fear of evil spirits. More than half of the Isaan population is still waiting for their first opportunity to hear the Gospel, and only 0.4%  of the Isaan are Christians.

Ubon Ratchathani city, capital of the Ubon Ratchathani Province, is home to 300,000+ Isaan people. It is a “gate city” for the ASEAN Alliance due to its strategic proximity to land routes linking Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Ubon Ratchathani is also a significant educational hub for Isaan students from the surrounding region, with numerous schools and universities found throughout the city.

Mission Vision

Our vision is to see the Isaan people walking in relationship with Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit, bringing spiritual transformation to Thailand that spreads to the nations.

CityLights Church is the church plant established by Hopewell Asia Missions in Ubon Ratchathani. God has called us to raise up first-generation Christian leaders from within three segments of the Isaan population: Current influencers, the next generation, and those at risk. We seek to reach these segments of society through a variety of outreach venues and activities that provide opportunities for relationship-building and friendship evangelism.

We are seeing God move. Isaan people are being drawn to the life-transforming power of Jesus, and we are believing for Spirit-filled Isaan believers to be raised up and released to minister in the five-fold gifts (Ephesians 4:11-13), empowered by the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, our goal is to establish multiple reproducing fellowships of indigenous believers leading to a church planting movement among the Isaan and the development of a Hopewell international partner network of churches that spreads to other parts of Thailand and surrounding nations.