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LITTLE CANDLES SCHOOL - To give each child the opportunity for a future

Daniel Loo, MMS Missionary since 2016 and Pastor-in-Charge of Little Candles Methodist Church, Phrao, Thailand.

Little Candles School (LCS) stems from a vision to bring the Gospel to the Thai people in the sub-district of Phrao, Chiang Mai. When my wife, Sharon, and I arrived in Phrao as missionaries in 2008 with a heart for church planting, we quickly discovered a means of connecting with the local people through the universal desire for education; we found that many non-Christian Thais readily embraced the idea of Christian education, even though they were hesitant to join a church.

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Humble beginnings in October 2008.

Humble beginnings in October 2008.

Going by faith, we started a three half-days a week child-care programme in a rental apartment with six students (which included two of our own) and two staff. This quickly expanded into a full-time registered nursery of 80 students and six staff within two years. At that point, it became clear that new facilities were needed to accommodate the growing ministry, so we registered the Smart Kids Foundation in 2010 in order to purchase land and build the Little Candles Kindergarten, which commenced operations in 2012.

Play group in October 2008.

Play group in October 2008.

As of 2021, LCS had reached an enrolment of 168 students at kindergarten level and 30 students at nursery level, giving it the highest enrolment of all kindergartens in Phrao.

Little Candles School as a Ministry Platform

LCS has provided a platform for ministry to the students, staff, parents, and community over the years. This has included Christian teaching to the students through weekly Bible activities, daily praise and worship, and prayers before meals. The staff participate in Bible Study lessons once a week, and join the Little Candles Methodist Church Sunday worship service at least once a month.

 Mother’s Day in 2015.

Mother’s Day in 2015.

The school reaches out to the community through holiday events such as Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and graduation where the children often do Christian presentations tied to the preaching of the Gospel message.

Christmas presentation in 2019.

Christmas presentation in 2019.

The success of the school through its awards has been recognised by the Ministry of Education, and the achievements of its students have also made a positive impact on the community; all these have enhanced the image of the church in Phrao.

Expanding the School to Primary Level Education

Ground breaking ceremony on 10 November 2021.

Ground breaking ceremony on 10 November 2021.

In 2020, after several years of discussion and planning, Sharon and I oversaw the transfer of land and facilities of the Kindergarten from the Smart Kids Foundation to the Muangthai Mettakij Foundation (a subsidiary of MMS) in Thailand. It was to ensure the long-term oversight of LCS under the accountability and support of MMS, and to expand the school to primary level education. Construction of the new facilities began in November 2021 and is expected to be completed for Primary 1 intake from May 2023 (Phase 1), with the final building complete by 2024 (Phase 2). However, challenges are being faced in the light of COVID-19 restrictions, rising steel prices and labour shortages.

It will not only serve the spiritual needs of the Christian community, but it will also provide quality education to the wider public while introducing them to the Christian message.

Aerial view of LCS.

Aerial view of LCS.

Nevertheless, with no other Christian schools in Phrao, we envision that LCS will play a vital role. It will not only serve the spiritual needs of the Christian community, but it will also provide quality education to the wider public while introducing them to the Christian message. The presence of LCS will influence the receptivity of future generations of community leaders to the Christian Mission.

Building construction progress as of 13 December 2021.

Building construction progress as of 13 December 2021.

Funds are still required to reach the target of S$1.3M required for the construction budget, and a further S$136,000 for the furnishings. Will you help to give the children of Phrao the opportunity for a future?

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