We really regard Thailand as home now. Our love for the Thai people and the country runs very deep.
So on the evening of 13th October 2016 as we prepared to leave to go to our Thursday Life Group. The news at 7pm came with the announcement that every Thai had feared; King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, Rama IX of the Chakri dynasty, had passed away at the age of 88, in the 70th year of his reign. He was the world’s longest serving monarch.
The news hit our ears and we both looked at each other in disbelief. We knew this news would hit Thailand hard; even in that moment in our apartment the stillness from outside was evidence. As we entered onto the streets of Bangkok, the silence, shock, grief, sobbing was written on every face.
We have 2 Thais in our Life Group and the sense of loss for them was painful. King Bhumibol Adulyadej was highly revered, he was the King of Thailand but was also the Father of Thailand who has done many great things for the country. The next day as we comforted, listened and spoke with many of the Thai women at NightLight, the personal loss of losing a Father cut deep. We are standing with, supporting and mourning with our Thai friends and family and feel their sorrow through this difficult time.
On Friday 14th October, Thailand a country often associated with bright colours, saw Thais, expats and tourists predominantly dressed in black, white and somber tones as the official national mourning period began. The initial mourning period will last for 30 days, but the funeral rites will last for one year. This will then be followed by the royal cremation.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej, took his role with great seriousness, travelling through many parts of Thailand to
improve the quality of life for the people of Thailand. During his 7o year reign he set up many Royal Projects and installed infrastructures to enable Thailand and the people of Thailand – some of these include improving agriculture, farming and the general landscape of Thailand. He has left a great legacy.
Over 500,000 (according to Thai Public Health Ministry) people lined the route to see the King take his final journey from Siriraj Hospital (where he passed away) to the Grand Palace. The location surrounding the Grand Palace and Sanam Luang Park has seen huge crowds daily paying their respects to the King and signing the condolence books.
On Saturday 22nd October a massive crowd of an estimated 170,000+ mourners from all over the country flooded to Sanam Luang Park and nearby side streets as far as the eye could see to sing the royal anthem in a historic assembly in memory of the beloved King. With an accompaniment of a 200-piece orchestra and a 150-strong choir under the baton of renowned music director Somtow Sucharitkul A momentous occasion that was also filmed by 1,300-strong production crew, 50 cameras, including two drones and cameras positioned on two cranes, as well as 25 microphones set up in six locations to capture the event. The film will include added footage of the Kings royal activities, will be shown on TV and cinemas across the country.
As the Thais gather together, they are beginning to look ahead to a hopeful future, following in the footsteps left by – A Great Royal Legacy – King Bhumibol Adulyadej. This is more than just the unity of Thais loyal to the late, revered King, but a demonstration that the King left an example to follow; they are strong together – serving with love, kindness, friendship and willingness to help each other.
Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Please pray for Thailand, the people of Thailand that they will be comforted by the Lord. Pray also as they step into this new period of transition.
BMS World Mission partnered with NightLight International