In 2007, Mark Stephens and the late Barry Spofford met with Southeast Asia international leader *John in Thailand. At the time, Barry was the director of FCA International while Mark was engaged in his role as head of the Mid-Atlantic Region. Both came to offer encouragement and support.
But for John, it was something else they brought that made a decade-long impact—sports Bibles. The following year, he visited the U.S. where he attended an FCA camp and saw the resources in action.
“That’s when I shared with FCA leadership that it was one of my dreams to have something like that for Southeast Asia,” John said. “I began praying and 10 years later, God answered our prayers.”
Through a partnership with Biblica, FCA began distributing its first-ever Thai Sports New Testament in October of 2017. According to Biblica representative Richard Loh, it immediately filled a felt need within the Christian church throughout Thailand.
“Current Thai translations are popular with churches there but they aren’t the easiest to read and understand,” Richard explained. “That’s why we created the Thai New Contemporary Version. When the young people get a hold of this translation, they can understand it immediately. It’s much more effective for evangelistic purposes.”
John adds that the new Bibles will also help with the creation of huddle groups and will encourage athletes and coaches to engage in ongoing discipleship.
“In one page of the Thai New Testament Bible, we talk about what it means for a sports team to form a huddle,” John said. “It’s a very good tool for us to train all the teams that come to our camps. That’s our main focus.”
Of the 40,000 Bibles that were published last fall, thousands have already been distributed to various ministry partners in Thailand including churches (which are part of 12 different organizations) and the 10,000 athletes who are part of FCA partner groups. The Immanuel Football Club, for example, has 115 teams, and there are 295 churches in Northeast Thailand alone. Campus Crusade For Christ has also benefited to the tune of 3,000 Bibles.
Fame Kittikhun is just one of the many youth soccer players that have greatly benefitted from the Thai Bible.
“This Bible helps me to stay in tune with God,” he said. “I learn how to have self-control in my life each day. Also, I get to know God more through reading His Word. I also sense that His presence is always with me.”
That sentiment also rings true with Thai soccer coaches like Tawatchai Wongsayang.
“The Bible helps me and guides me on how I can teach my team members,” he said. “It helps me to have the right attitude towards the game while on the field and off the field. It helps me apply the principle that Christ taught in His Word. I have also found that it is a helpful tool to proclaim the Good News to others.”
The New Testaments have also impacted the neighboring nation of Laos where the language is similar to Thai. In addition to several Thai soccer athletes featured, John also suggested that the resource also include the testimony of an athlete from Laos to make the Bible relevant to the 6,000 athletes and coaches who will receive a copy through FCA leadership there.
“We are very thankful and grateful for the partnership with FCA,” Richard Loh said. “They are reaching out to the target audience that we are trying to reach as well and that is the young people. How fitting and how appropriate it is for us to be working with FCA because they have access to young people that need a contemporary and modern translation.”
*Name change due to security.