Church News and Events

Second Stake Created in Thailand

Contributed By Michel and Linda Manning, Church News contributors

  • 30 June 2014

Bangkok North Stake presidency (left to right): Natthapol Lattisophonkul (first counselor), Sathit Kaivalvatana (president), and Narin Yantaphan (second counselor).  Photo by Elder and Sister Manning.

On June 18, 1995, Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles created the first stake in Thailand. Brother Ponchai Juntratip arrived early and was patiently waiting outside the assembly room of the Amari Watergate Hotel. Prior to the meeting, Elder Maxwell excused himself to view the assembling congregation. While doing so, he found the 48-year-old Brother Ponchai and asked him to join him in a private room nearby. After talking for about five minutes, Elder Maxwell stated, “I want you to serve as patriarch of the new Bangkok Stake. After the meeting, I will lay my hands on your head and set you apart.”

Elder Wisit Khanakham, an Area Seventy, remembers the excitement of that historic meeting that was repeated on June 15, 2014, 19 years later, as members of the Church in Bangkok were again gathered in the Amari Watergate Hotel to witness the creation of the Bangkok North Stake and West District. “We were very excited and humbled to see added blessings and increased priesthood strength coming to our country,” he said. “I felt the Lord confirm the actions that took place today. I felt peace.”

By assignment, Elder Gerrit W. Gong, Asia Area President, accompanied by Elder Leonard E. Woo, Area Seventy, created the Bangkok North Stake, while Elder Larry Y. Wilson, First Counselor in the Asia Area Presidency, accompanied by Elder Wisit Khanakham, Area Seventy, created the Bangkok West District. Brother Ponchai, still serving as a patriarch, was again in attendance.

After the sustaining of the new stake and district presidencies, Elder Leonard E. Woo, an Area Seventy, stated, “These men are called by God. They appear relatively young, but power in the priesthood does not come by age. It comes by faith and obedience to the commandments of Jesus Christ. President Sathit Kaivalvatana is a great example of that. When we have the Holy Ghost with us, we can achieve much good.”

Bangkok West District presidency (left to right): Somboon Sukkun (first counselor), Arun Thongmee (president), Chote Jeephimai (second counselor). Photo by Elder and Sister Manning.

Ponchai Juntratip, Bangkok Stake patriarch. Photo by Elder and Sister Manning.

Three successive Bangkok stake presidents and their wives (left to right): President and Sister Kitsawasd Thipparat, President and Sister Wisit Khanakham, and President and Sister Sarawuth Kanyaphan (current Bangkok Stake president). Photo by Elder and Sister Manning.

“Every individual life experience is different,” President Kaivalvatana, the new Bangkok North Stake president, explained. “But the plan of salvation teaches us that we are here for a reason. My patriarchal blessing told me that I was not here for myself, but to inspire others. So I focused on my family and others, rather than myself.”

At the conference, he said, “On receiving their instruction from Lehi to go to get the plates from Laban, Laman and Lemuel were doubters, but we are told that Nephi had faith. We must ask ourselves, ‘Which will I be?’ It doesn't matter what calling we have; as long as we give it our best efforts, we will be blessed.”

Arun Thongmee, who was sustained as the president of the Bangkok West District, also remembered when the first stake was created in 1995. He feels that Thailand will not have to wait another 19 years before the third stake is created. He said, “In John chapter 15, we are taught about the true vine and what happens to the branches that do not bear fruit. We are told to bear fruit, but it doesn't say it has to be a lot, just as long as we are bearing fruit. The Savior purges the tree so it can bring more fruit. Occasionally our branches are split off. The Bangkok North District has strong roots and it became a stake. As long as we love one another, we can help [our Savior] build the kingdom here in Thailand.”

President David M. Senior, Thailand Bangkok Mission president, stated, “Members of the Bangkok North Stake worked with dedication and faith in bringing to pass the vision of becoming a new stake. It was a faith-filled day, and I felt a confirming joy for the blessings being showered upon the land and people.” He continued, “There will yet be many blessings in Thailand as the faithful Saints join with missionaries in this great day of the Lord’s hastening, taking the gospel light to nations, kindreds, tongues, and people. In 2013, there were roughly 650 baptisms in Thailand, and in the first half of 2014, there have already been over 1,000 new members added. The Lord is indeed hastening His work.”