Asian church stories
Growing multicultural congregation reaches out to the homeless in Las Vegas
by Kimberly Burge
God’s declaration in the book of Isaiah to call God’s house “a house of prayer for all nations” is a charge First Thai-Laotian Presbyterian Church of Las Vegas, Nev., takes to heart as they build a multicultural ministry. But little did church members know that they would welcome into their house of prayer people from a “nation” forgotten in this country: men living on the Las Vegas streets and sometimes in the bushes behind the church.
When the church organized in 2002 it consisted of four families meeting in one another’s homes for prayer groups. Now on any given Sunday those attending the afternoon Bible study, dinner and worship service might include people from a dozen different ethnic groups. Rev. Prachuab Dechawan leads the growing congregation, which numbers 60 members. He has been shepherding the growth of Thai Presbyterian churches in the United States since the early 1970s, when he helped to establish the first congregation, Thai Community Church in Hollywood, Calif. Other churches formed in Fort Worth, Chicago, New York, and San Jose.