For more than three decades, the bustling port city of Bangkok has topped lists of the most popular destinations in the world, with tourism accounting for up to 20% of the country’s gross domestic product and bringing nearly 40 million foreign visitors to Thailand each year. When COVID-19 drove the country into lockdown and prohibited foreign travel, millions of men and women lost their jobs. And for more than a year, whole communities have waited in desperation for a light at the end of the tunnel.

“God challenged me to not just stand still and watch what is going on without doing anything. People lost their jobs, and there were many unemployed people all around.”

Montree Sirisomboonwong

Haggai leader Montree Sirisomboonwong is a man of action. After becoming a Christian while attending college in New Zealand, Montree returned home to Thailand with a calling on his life to serve God as a church planter. He spent four years planting churches in the northern region of the country before he was called back to his home city of Bangkok to serve as a lay leader and begin work with Food for the Hungry Thailand, the local arm of an international ministry dedicated to lifting the burden of extreme poverty. In 1998, Montree attended the Haggai Leader Experience, where he was able to define his overall goals for ministry.

“I was equipped in 1998 at Singapore. It gave me a clear direction for preaching the Gospel, helping me to set goals and contextualize.”

The strategies Montree learned through Haggai prepared him for the daunting challenge of ministering to Bangkok’s poorest communities when COVID-19 derailed the city’s economy in 2020. The leaders of Food for the Hungry Thailand met in Spring 2020 to determine a way forward in an unprecedented crisis. It became clear that in addition to providing immediate relief through emergency food donations, the communities in their care were in need of much more.

“As time passed the ministry shifted its focus to a more holistic approach, which eventually led to the change of name to the ‘True Love Foundation.’ Currently there are three main programs; a physical needs ministry, a counseling ministry, and initiatives to build small farms to prevent food insecurity.”

In 2020, the True Love Foundation’s efforts provided emergency services to more than 4,000 families in and around Bangkok. Montree and his team utilized a network of local churches to identify the communities most in need of help, and those churches in turn have been able to build relationships with these individuals and share the Gospel.

Watch this short video from True Love Foundation as they provide food service to families around Bangkok:

“We work with local churches who continue to follow up with these people in the community, where the Gospel is preached because our work has opened the hearts of people.”

In addition to his community-transforming work with the True Love Foundation, Montree is also committed to equipping new leaders in Thailand using the Haggai model. Since attending the program in 1998, he has equipped more than 300 young leaders throughout the country.

“I want to pour large doses of courage and confidence into the generation ahead, that they must never fear, never give up in difficult times. All they need is to ‘be still’ and believe in the power of the Gospel to save the world.”