Blog: Thailand Tales
Sharon returns to the USA periodically, based on the East Coast. Email her to extend an invitation to visit your congregation or organization.
About Sharon Bryant’s ministry
Sharon Bryant was appointed as coordinator of Christian volunteers with the Church of Christ in Thailand (CCT) in January 2011. She helps place volunteer English teachers in 25 schools supported by the CCT, orienting and equipping the volunteers, visiting them and the schools regularly and ensuring the overall smooth functioning of the Christian Volunteers Thailand Program(CVT). By expanding English offerings, the CCT hopes to strengthen the church’s witness as it gives Thai students an important tool for success in academia and international commerce.
Hear the testimony of one of the Christian volunteers in Thailand about her time of service.
Thailand, known as Siam until 1939, is the only country in Southeast Asia that was never under colonial rule. In the 1980s its economy changed from one based primarily on agriculture to one more focused on the industrial and service sectors. The economy’s fast growth sent a substantial number of people from Thailand’s rural areas to urban centers. More than half a million Thai people are living with HIV/AIDS, a high-rate of infection that is partly the result of a large-scale sex industry. Nearly 95 percent of the country is Buddhist, 4 percent is Muslim, and less than 1 percent is Christian. Presbyterians began mission work in Thailand in 1840, and Presbyterianism is one of the Protestant traditions that helped form the Church of Christ in Thailand. While the CCT’s membership is relatively small, its work in health, education and social ministries is widely known and appreciated.
About Sharon Bryant
Sharon Bryant learned to love Thailand while growing up there as the daughter of Presbyterian missionaries Richard and Evelyn Bryant.
“Thailand is a lovely, lush tropical country with endless white sand beaches and rolling green hills,” says Sharon. “The Thai people are a gentle but strong people with a wonderful history filled with stories of independence, tenacity, passion, hospitality and service.”
Sharon brings to mission service experience as a pastor, a human resources manager, and a management consultant. In her career she has focused on developing expertise as a teacher and counselor, skills that are crucial to her assignment in Thailand.
Sharon says she started sensing a call to serve in Thailand during a 2008 visit to Chang Mai, Thailand, for the centennial celebration of the McKean Rehabilitation Institute, where her father served for many years as director. “On this journey, I heard God’s call to return to Thailand and serve the church, and I sought ways to do so through the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.),” she recalls. “When I learned of the position of coordinator of Christian volunteers, I believed that God had opened a way for me to serve that uses my knowledge of the Thai people and their culture as well as my gifts in teaching and counseling.”
The Thai people, Sharon says, possess a curiosity about faith, life and creation and a strong commitment to family. “All this creates opportunities for conversation and exploration, opening the door for witness and evangelism,” she notes. “I want these people to know the joy that I know in my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I long for them to have the same joy in their lives that I have in mine.”
Sharon wants her work to inspire both Thai students and their American volunteer teachers to lives of deeper faith and greater service. “My hope for the church in Thailand and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is that, through this ministry, a new generation of young adults will discover the joy of mission work and the wonder of sharing the good news of God’s gift of love and life with those who do not know it,” she says.
Immediately prior to entering mission service, Sharon served for six years as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Stephenville, Texas. She spent nearly 20 years working in managerial jobs in the secular world before beginning ministry preparation at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, where she received the Master of Divinity degree. She is a member of Grace Presbytery.
Sharon holds an undergraduate degree from Pfeiffer College in Providence, N.C., a master’s degree from Western Illinois University, and a doctorate in adult and continuing professional education from Northern Illinois University.
Birthday: May 23