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Christian Volunteers in Thailand looking for English teachers

If you have a heart to serve God, CVT is looking for you

by Kathy Melvin | Presbyterian News Service

A typical primary school classroom at a Church of Christ in Thailand school. (Photo by Kathy Melvin)

BANGKOK — If you are a native English speaker with a heart to serve God, Rev. Sharon Bryant would like to have a conversation with you.

Bryant is coordinator of Christian volunteers with the Church of Christ in Thailand (CCT), a World Mission global partner. She places volunteer English teachers in 27 schools supported by the CCT and orients and supports them throughout their stay. By expanding English offerings, the CCT hopes to strengthen the church’s witness and give Thai students an important tool for success in academia and international commerce.

Thailand has been an active member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for almost 50 years. In the past decade, the country has been moving towards integrating itself more closely with its Asian neighbors to form a community of nations with close diplomatic and economic ties similar to the European Union. Opening national borders and reducing trade restrictions is creating an increasing demand for the use of the English language — the only language the ASEAN nations have in common.

Never too old to volunteer

If you think you’ve passed the age of volunteering, think again. Bryant stresses it is not just a young person’s calling. Her volunteers range in age from 21-77.

“We are looking for people who want to share, but also don’t mind making some sacrifices. We cannot pay what the other schools pay, so we need individuals (or sometimes couples) to come teach these children English but also share the love and grace of God with them,” she said. Many of the teachers stay for two, three or more years.

Former Christian Volunteers in Thailand English teacher Lindsey Monroe, with her son Benjamin. (Photo by Kathy Melvin)

Lindsey Monroe is 31 years old. She has become a full-time teacher at one of the more rural schools in Sangkhlaburi. She also married a local man and they have an 8-month-old son, Benjamin. “He’s our first CVT grandchild,” said Bryant. All the volunteers have bright purple shirts with yellow CVT lettering to celebrate 55 years of the ministry. Volunteers wear the shirts at retreats and events. Benjamin has one too.

The most important qualification for a CVT mission worker is the desire to share the love of God with the Thai people. A college degree is needed to obtain a visa, but no teaching experience is required — only a fluency in English without a strong accent.

The cost to support one CVT volunteer is about $8,000 U.S. The volunteer receives housing which includes a private bedroom and bathroom and a fan or air-conditioner for the hot summer months. There’s also a small food allowance, which includes meals eaten at school and a cash stipend to cover other living expenses. CVT helps the volunteer with required legal documents including a work permit and a one-year visa. Volunteers receive an orientation to the culture and customs of Thailand, an introduction to the Thai language and the policies of the CCT.

Putting stereotypes to rest

Bryant said the Thai schools are eager for English-speaking teachers, but she has had to do some education with them as well. While we know that the U.S. is a melting pot and is projected to be minority white by 2045, Thai people often picture native English speakers as fair-skinned with blonde hair and blue eyes. Currently there are two women from Nagaland in India and a Hmong descendant from Minnesota serving in the program. Hmong began coming to Minnesota in 1975 as refugees when war destroyed their homes in Laos. Today, there are more than 66,000 Hmong in Minnesota. The Twin Cities is home to the largest concentration of Hmong in America.

“I took Tou Dao Herr to the school and he didn’t fit what they thought of as a typical American,” said Bryant. “The principal was skeptical. But when I returned a few weeks later, the administrator wanted to know where I could get several more just like him. They fell in love with him and he fell in love with the children.”

CCT is a longtime World Mission partner, founded 1934 as the Church in Siam with the intent of forming a single ecumenical denomination to include all Protestant churches in Thailand. Other than a small number of American Baptist and British Churches of Christ congregations, most of the original member churches were originally Presbyterian congregations, many of which were started by missionaries from the American Presbyterian Mission Board.

A daughter of Presbyterian missionaries

Bryant’s love of the Thai people is long and deep. It began while growing up there as the daughter of Presbyterian missionaries, Rev. Richard and Evelyn Bryant, McCormick Theological Seminary class of 1945.

After serving in the secular world as a successful human resources manager and management consultant, Bryant says she started sensing a call to serve in Thailand during a 2008 visit to Chiang Mai 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.”

Among the most important things to her is wanting the Thai 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,” she said. That drives her to inspire both her Thai students and American volunteers 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, Bryant served for six years as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Stephenville, Texas. She attended Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, where she received the Master of Divinity degree. She is a member of Grace Presbytery. She has an undergraduate degree from Pfeiffer College (now Pfeiffer University) in Misenheimer, N.C., a master’s degree from Western Illinois University, and a doctorate in adult and continuing professional education from Northern Illinois University.

If you know someone interested in serving God as an English teacher in Thailand, please email Bryant at She’d really like to hear from you.


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