A work from God starts from the heart of God who then, in His mercy and grace, makes it known to the heart of man, to be fulfilled in God’s own way.
From 1964 to 1995 Dr Geoffrey and Mrs Pat Atkinson followed God’s call teaching and serving in Laos, Thailand and Hong Kong. After over 30 years of service they returned to the UK, but they soon knew that God had something more for them to do.
They waited on God and in 2002 the answer came! They believed that God wanted them to start a Mission to work with the Karen and Khmu in Thailand (and Laos).
The call was confirmed to them after a visit to Thailand in October 2002, and in the years ahead, Chrestos Mission came into being. The Lord was giving them another opportunity to serve Him and from 2003 – 2019 He used their lives to bless many.
The following paragraphs will tell part of their story.
Chrestos Mission....a mission sharing Christ’s kindness
The Greek word Chrestos means “kindness” and is one of the fruits of the Spirit. Geoffrey and Pat had experienced the kindness of the living God in their own lives again and again and wanted to share that kindness with others.
At a time when most people would be thinking of slowing down or even retiring, Geoffrey and Pat obediently followed God’s leading to northern Thailand to new areas of ministry. Initially based in Chiang Mai, Geoffrey and Pat travelled to visit Karen refugee camps on Thailand’s western border as well as visiting the Khmu people in north eastern Thailand. At this time, there were over 150,000 refugees living in the camps along the Thai/Myanmar border.
Mission Hospital in Mae Sariang
The Thailand Karen Baptist Convention (TKBC) soon became aware that Geoffrey had Thai medical qualifications and asked him to help them ‘rescue’ their Mission Hospital in Mae Sariang. Geoffrey and Pat soon realised that they could not do this. The hospital had been a Mission Hospital supported by the American Baptists, but in 2004 there were not enough adequately qualified people to run the hospital. Moreover, monies to keep the hospital running were not available and most importantly, there was a newly-built large and well-equipped Government Hospital in Mae Sariang serving the needs of the people.
God had other plans for the Mae Sariang Christian hospital! The hospital had served the community for years and many people had found healing and blessing there. The TKBC allowed Chrestos Mission to use part of the hospital free of charge for three years and, in return, Chrestos Mission helped to renovate part of the property. With the renovation work completed, the Chrestos Christian Education Centre was opened on 1 July 2005. From the outset Chrestos Mission promised to work together with the TKBC amongst the Karen people.
The new Chrestos Christian Education Centre prospered. In early 2004, in accordance with the Thai Government regulations, Chrestos Mission Foundation became a registered Thai Charity, working in three main areas; education, relief and literature. Interestingly, some of the Bible teaching was carried out in the ‘old’ operating theatre at the Mission hospital and the first 14 students were accommodated in some of the hospital wards!
The ministry started to grow and the space available at the hospital was not enough for their needs. In faith, Geoffrey and Pat rented, and finally bought, what became the Team House on the outskirts of Mae Sariang. The Team House was to accommodate staff, teachers and short-term workers.
Chrestos Christian Education Centre
The vision that God had given Geoffrey and Pat started to become a reality. They began to see God’s wonderful plan; teaching and training Karen men and women for His work. In the beginning, students came to the Centre to study for two years, but at the request of the TKBC, this was extended to a four year programme. Following graduation the students are invited to work in the TKBC churches as pastors, evangelists, women’s workers, youth workers or Sunday School teachers.
In 2004, when the work began, 14 students came to study at the Chrestos Christian Education Centre. Geoffrey and Pat appointed Karen Staff to help them in the work. Saw (Mr) Christopher was appointed as Manager and four other Karen made up the Team.
God blessed their work and in July 2005, 26 students studied at the Centre. The space and accommodation at the Christian hospital was now not enough and a bigger place was needed. After months of prayer and viewing many properties in Mae Sariang, God led them to purchase the piece of land next to the Team House and amazingly God provided the way to finance this.
The Chrestos Bible School compound in Mae Sariang
The land was purchased, and with the help of local building contractors, the team worked hard to convert the large rice mill into the main auditorium for the Bible School. With a seating capacity of between 400-500 there was plenty of space to worship, study as well as organise and hold seminars. Student accommodation and staff housing were also built. In God’s timing all their needs were met.
Chrestos Mission today
Chrestos is a place for the Karen people. It has continued to develop over the years with new ministries and projects.
Undoubtedly, a great deal has been accomplished in and through Chrestos Mission and we believe our faithful God will lead the Mission into the future.
Geoffrey and Pat’s servant hearts have led them to minister to the Karen for many years, God has blessed them and used their lives to bless so many. The Karen people have taken Geoff and Pat into their hearts and have shown them great respect and love.
Geoffrey and Pat have now retired from their work at Chrestos. We give thanks to God for them, knowing that He will bless them and take care of them as they continue their journey with Him.
Chrestos Mission is God’s mission and it will prosper because God is faithful in all things. Geoffrey and Pat have “passed the baton” into the hands of their beloved Karen. The Leadership now is in the hands of the Karen and they are trusting God to empower and equip them for the task ahead. We thank God that we will see new leaders emerging.
There is much to be thankful for! We praise God that Karen friends, together with the families of the students, are contributing to the running costs of Chrestos Mission. The Thai Board is helping the Chrestos Mission in every way they can. We are grateful that we can join hands and work together for God’s glory. Finally, we give thanks to God for friends and supporters worldwide who support Chrestos Mission through prayer and giving.
The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy.
Psalm 126 v 3
For the full story of how God has led and used Geoffrey and Pat Atkinson, we highly recommend the book 'Never a Dull Moment.' Please order through our Contact Page. £8 including postage.