Asia Area Presidency Message
I was born in a very small village unknown to the public with no electricity or water supply readily available. The place was called Ban Pong, Tambon Sanpooluey Doisaked district Chiangmai province in the northern part of Thailand. I grew up as a country boy running around the rice fields and taking care of the cattle, and was raised in a strictly religious farming family with self-discipline to live providently.
Sixty-three years ago, from the time I was four years old I had to walk two kilometers to attend a community school. When I was eight to eleven, I also had to walk four kilometers to another public school. I then attended a public secondary school and finished high school education in a private school. I continued my education in Ramkhamhaeng University and graduated as an English major with a minor in Economics.
I have always enjoyed public service projects in my life. While in the university, I volunteered as a tutor for English and American literature courses on behalf of the English Club. I have since taught English classes in a private high school, a private commercial college, a public vocational college and a public welfare school. Additionally, our family had assisted a church member to hold many English camps for the Technical & Nursing Colleges in Trang province, the southern part of Thailand as voluntary outsources. Teaching is truly my favorite profession. Further into my professional life, I have also worked for the church as the Thailand Service Center Manager, as President of The Foundation of the LDS Church and also Regional Materials Management Manager.
When I was very young there were Protestant missionaries that would visit our small village. They would sing and preach to us. It was all good because village people would greet them and talk to them, but after they finished visiting our village and left, people in my village would say rude things about them and also made fun of the name of Jesus Christ whom they preached. This caused me to have many questions about this Jesus Christ “who is he and why do they say such horrible things about him?” It wasn’t until a long time later that I would receive answers to many of my questions.
One of my classmates in High School questioned me, “Wisit, do you believe that God lives?” I said to her, “No, impossible.” and her second question was “Wisit, do you believe that man can talk to God?” I said to her, “You are crazy!!!” I soon met the missionaries when I joined the MIA program and started to listen to their discussions. Awhile after I decided to get baptized as my father permitted me to sign on the paper on his behalf.
Throughout these forty-three years in the church, I have been called to serve in different assignments in the Branch, District, Mission and Stake levels. My favorite assignment is to be an usher because it allows me to greet new faces on Sundays and help them feel at home and to be ready to worship in sacrament meeting. Previous callings and releases have also helped me develop leadership and continue in spiritual maturation.
We have two children, Wisoodthiporn and Wisuchalak who are 31 and 30 years old. We belong to a returned missionary family. My wife Sumamaan, our son Wisoodthiporn and I had served in the Thailand Bangkok Mission and our daughter Wisuchalak, served in the Oakland California Mission. My wife and I have just completed our mission as Support Members and Leader Senior Missionaries in October 2013. Serving a mission is the best thing we have done in our mortal life.
I am so thankful and grateful for my mother though she disagreed with my new belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. I was cut off from my family after my baptism; many who knew me mocked my faith and testimony with unkind words and made me feel very lonely. Yet, nothing could stop me worshipping the Lord. When I decided to quit my full time teaching job to serve a full time mission, my mother intended to release me from the family will. Nevertheless, all my trials and tribulations in life produced for me a strong faith and testimony in Jesus Christ. And because of our LDS life style, our family has been accepted by my parents, family members, cousins and our neighborhood; all past conflicts were reconciled before my mother passed away.
Obedience has been an essential part of my personal spiritual growth since the early days of my conversion in 1971. Because of this important principle, my faith and testimony in Jesus Christ has grown gradually. I had neither a vision nor any pictures of what the desired results of the teachings of Christ would turn out to be. However, I was confirmed in my heart that the famous scripture story that young saints all shared, about Abraham who was commanded to sacrifice Isaac his son, and both Abraham and Isaac yielded to the will of God, was real and not a fairy tale. “AND it came to pass after these things that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of …” 1 I have learned that obedience leads to action. I always remember what the Lord expects me to do after my baptism. The more I learn the more I am edified by the Holy Ghost that revelations in the scriptures are true especially “… it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” 2
Whenever I see new converts of the church, it reminds me of when I too was a new convert. I did not have a vast knowledge of the scriptures or the teachings of the church. I just kept pressing forward letting my faith carry me on. I have full confidence in the new converts of the church; that they will grow and progress and receive the gospel blessings in their lives by obedience. As President Joseph Fielding Smith declared, “and I know that I can find it only in obedience to the laws of the Lord in keeping the commandments, in performing works of righteousness, following in the footsteps of our file leader, Jesus, the exemplar and the head of all.” 3
I have followed the Ten Commandments to the very best of my ability since my baptism. I continue to partake of the sacrament every Sabbath Day, pay full tithe faithfully, serve in the church willingly, study scriptures, pray, and participate in Family Home Evenings, all very simple things to do in life. I have finally proved to myself that obedience is required for two major things; “Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a wiling mind …” 4 and I never neglect what the Lord wants me to do. “...be not weary in well-doing … And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” 5 I testify that the church is true and that the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve are called of God. We will be blessed as long as we continue to be obedient in the Lord’s way; in the name of Jesus Christ Amen. ■
Caption: Elder Wisit Khanakham
1 See Genesis 22:1-13, 16-18.
2 See Doctrine and Covenants 130:21.
3 Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith (2013), 229.Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding
4 See Doctrine and Covenants 64:34.
5 See Doctrine and Covenants 64:33.