Nida Patcharaveerapong was a popular film and television actress in Thailand and an outspoken Christian in a country where it’s a minority religion. In Thailand, 93% of the country practices Buddhism and only around 1% of the population follows Jesus. On February 24, she died tragically at the age of 37. Her death and its subsequent investigation, controversies, and conspiracy theories, have rocked the nation.
But it has also shined a spotlight on Nida’s religion. More than 1,000 mourners gathered at Liberty Church on March 11 for a large prayer service. Thousands more streamed the prayer service online. Countless people watched on national television. Two days later, her funeral was equally well attended and viewed.
A small team of digital strategists in Bangkok saw the increased interest in Christianity result in more opportunities to reach the largely unreached nation. In a recent episode of Indigitous CoffeeTalks, we met with Din Ragumtong, a digital strategist in Bangkok.
A Facebook page makes an impact
“Even though I don’t have much experience with digital, I strongly believe that if we want a lot of people to hear the Good News of the Gospel, we have to use digital,” Din says through an interpreter. “We can’t not use it because everybody is always on their devices.”
The day after Nida’s funeral, about 300 people came to the Christian Facebook page that Din runs and messaged them – far more than their normal engagement. Only forty of the 300 messages were from people who were already Christians, those who wanted to start fresh with God or invigorate their spiritual life. For the rest, they knew little to nothing about Jesus.
“Of these 300 people who sent a message, 65% of them prayed a salvation prayer to know Jesus and want to go to a church now, grow in their faith, and learn more about Jesus,” Din says. “That’s the power of digital.”
Din and his team are working on strategies to follow up with those who message their page so they can be lead on an appropriate journey to grow closer to God. “Because of all of these inquiries to our Facebook page, we’ve set up several Bible study classes,” Din says. The team is working with staff members of Thailand Campus Crusade for Christ to lead those groups. So far around 100 people who have messaged the Facebook page have shown interest in joining a Bible study group.
Learning as they go
Din’s team started four years ago and the first couple years were very challenging. They didn’t know what type of content to post on the various social media channels and didn’t have any experience with engagement strategies. They had to learn on the job.
During that time, there was a lot of trial and error. “Our strategy ended up being strategic elimination,” Din says. They would try lots of things, stop doing the things that didn’t work, and keep the strategies that were getting results.
They ended up creating a brand around the idea of Knowing God and used a Facebook page and Instagram page to help people understand and connect with God. Though the accounts had been initially been easy for the team of five to maintain, over time their engagement grew. In recent weeks they have seen a huge surge, thanks at least in part to the curiosity in Christianity prompted by Nida’s funeral. “In the last week, our growth on Instagram was 10,000% and our Facebook page had 1,000% growth,” Din says.
What they’ve learned
In the beginning, the team was intentionally unfocused, trying many things to see what works and what doesn’t. “It felt quite scattered and disjointed,” Din says. “But when we started to focus on the things that really had results – which in our case was carefully creating written content and also having livestreams of people from all walks of life come and tell their testimonies – we started to see real tangible results.”
One of the most important things that Din and the team does is pay for everyone who messages them. Prayer is also an important part of content creation. Whenever they feel stuck and don’t know what content to put out, they pray for God to inspire them. “God will give us the inspiration of a story or piece of content that we can put together that can inspire lots of people,” Din says.
Starting your own ministry
If you use social media, you can use it for ministry. Just as Din uses a Facebook page and Instagram account to talk about God and share Jesus with those who connect with him, anyone with a social media account can do the same.
“Just try it. Just do something,” Din says. “If you make 100 pieces of content or put 100 posts and one of them has a result, then that is already a success. The other 99 is learning and learning is part of the journey.”