The history of Protestant mission work in Thailand dates back to 1828. Except for a period during World War II, this work has carried on without interruption. For much of the time since the end of the war, the Bangkok Christian Guest House has been in the background, lending support to the mission work going on in Thailand and throughout the region. But the story of the Guest House starts before World War II.
It was a nice half acre parcel of land, close to a streetcar line that first attracted the South Siam Mission of the American Presbyterian Churches to the location. The mission needed a place to build homes for their missionaries who would be working in Bangkok. So the property at 2021 Convent Rd. was purchased. The year was 1926. In two years time the Fuller and Seigle families occupied their homes and the story of the Bangkok Christian Guest House begins.
The homes were large because there was a demand for an economical place for other mission families to stay when they came to Bangkok. These mission homes became the place that took travelers in. The demand for accommodation grew until the houses in the compound became like barracks with pallets on the floors.
World War II presented new challenges for the mission community when all missionaries in Siam were interned by the occupying forces. The buildings on the compound were evacuated and entrusted to a young graduate of Bangkok Christian College who was asked to protect all the mission property. He did so at the risk of his life. Twice he was taken to be executed, only to receive last minute reprieves.
The Saladaeng portion of the land was separated from the rest of the mission property and given the address of 123 Saladaeng Rd. Soi 2, the current address of the Guest House. In 1945 the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions sent Dr. and Mrs. Cort and Mr. & Mrs. Paul Eakin on a ship to Thailand carrying only medical supplies. They were the first non-military people allowed into Thailand after the war and took up residence at the Saladaeng site. They were able to administer the distribution of the medical supplies they brought to the hospitals which were in desperate need after the years of isolation. The King of Thailand presented Paul Eakin with a medal for his part in this humanitarian effort. The Eakins retired in the 1950s and the mission society converted the house into a guest house for the influx of returning missionaries that occurred at this time.
The need was great and the decision was made to add a two floor wing to the side of the old teak house in order to accommodate more people. That wing of rooms has been used until today. In 1975, the old teak house was torn down and the present, main building of the Guest House was built. Since that time, between 15,000 and 20,000 people pass through the Guest House each year. In a recent year, these people represented over 120 organizations from every corner of the globe.
Historically, the missionaries' main interest has been to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that is still true today. At the same time, they have worked diligently to meet many physical and spiritual needs. In many areas of Thailand the introduction of modern medical advances, vaccinations, birth control, leprosy treatment and prevention, infant care and basic disease prevention were often initiated and implemented by missionary efforts. Likewise, in many parts of Thailand, the history of education, the establishment of schools, the supply of scholarships and the demonstration of the need for education is the history of missionary work. Further, the doors for agricultural and community development were often opened with the influence of missionaries and Thai Christians.
The Guest House has been many things to many people. Since the end of World War II especially, it has been in the background lending support to much of the mission work going on in Thailand and throughout this part of the world. Many nights a year, the "No Vacancy" sign must be displayed giving testament to the fact that the demand for the Guest House is still very much present for the current generation of missionaries, NGO workers, travelers and families.