ANAHEIM, Calif.—The 2022 SBC Annual Meeting was special for the Chayasirisobhon family for many reasons.
During the meeting, Pastor Chayas “Victor” Chayasirisobhon was elected SBC first vice president. While that was a special moment, Victor also honored by another moment that happened much farther away from the main stage.
“I had the privilege of helping my father, Sirichai Chayasirisobhon, register at the SBC registration booth,” Victor said.
The 77-year-old Sirichai, a 2022 SBC church messenger, was so proud of his son, he asked the registration chair to take pictures of them together. When asked how he felt about having Victor serving the Lord, Sirichai said, “It’s all about grace, God’s grace, all grace!”
Victor is the lead pastor of the First Southern Baptist Church of Anaheim, chief administrator of the Anaheim Discovery Christian School, and is also a medical doctor following his family’s tradition.
Victor’s grandfather, Dr. Tseng Sui Po Chayasirisobhon, was married to Chantana Chayasirisobhon and served as a deacon at the Sapang Luang Church in Thailand. He was a renowned medical doctor, an elder at his church, and a well-respected member of his community, Victor said. His grandfather “built a home for the homeless and took care of them, and as a church Elder, he was highly respected in his community,” added Victor. When his grandfather died at the age of 40, people lined up for miles to mourn him. His family carried the cross for Christ because as “one of the only Christian families in Thailand, they were made fun of quite a bit for being a Christian,” Victor added.
Sirichai was of Chinese descent, born in a bomb shelter in Thailand during World War II, lived in Bangkok, Thailand, served at his church as a deacon and later as lead pastor. According to Victor, his father migrated to Canada, where he attended McGill University, followed his father’s footsteps, and graduated as a medical doctor.
Sirichai married Wanpen, who also studied at the same university and became a microbiologist.
“My parents modeled to me the importance of getting an education,” Victor said. “Becoming a doctor was an honor for my father, and being a doctor is highly valued in our culture.”
While living in Canada, Victor’s parents prayed about whether to go to Thailand or America, ultimately choosing the latter. His father got his green card, came to America as a computer technician, and was then able to practice medicine in Michigan. At an early age, Victor moved with his parents to California, where they currently live and serve.
Victor said that after the death of his grandfather, Sirichai—at the age of 13 and the oldest of four children—had to take the responsibility of helping his mother raise his brothers and sister.
“My father said that he went from being a bad boy to a good boy,” Victor said. Sirichai helped his mother lead the family. His siblings were all educated: two became doctors and another is a famous opera singer.
While his father was serving as a deacon at their church, Victor says his parents were raised and helped by the church to be leaders. His father has planted many Thai churches, and currently he is the senior pastor at the Thai Church, a SBC church, in Anaheim. His church gathers in the space right above First Southern Baptist Church of Anaheim where Victor pastors.
Victor is the third generation of men serving God, following the ministry and the example of his father and grandfather, but he also had a time of rebellion. During his youth, he became a gang member.
“When you see the picture of me and my dad together, on the same page, it is such a picture of God’s love, a picture of God’s grace, a picture of God’s redemption,” Victor said. During his time of rebellion, Victor shared that his father was always praying for him. “No matter what I did, I knew that he always loved me. As a teenager I did not understand how he loved me so hard,” he said.
Victor is an only child, born in Montreal, Canada. He was given the Thai name Wuttichai, by his parents. Wuttichai means champion of knowledge, champion of beauty or gloriousness, glory, and honor. As an only child Victor had a nickname in Thai “Hnung,” which actually means “number one.”
“I think that they were expecting to have number two, so they nicknamed me ‘one’ with high hopes,” Victor said. Victor, a bi-vocational pastor, is married to Theresa, also an only child, and they have four children—two girls and two boys.
“After having me, my dad wanted to be a better man and showed me what a Christian looked like,” Victor said. “My children make me want to be a better man, a better Christian. My congregation makes me want to be a better man, a better Christian. With each position that God has given me and the responsibility that I have, not to be the perfect role model, but to try to be an example makes me want to be a better man, and a better Christian. … God gave me this SBC family, and I’m just trying to help my family.
“I became a doctor because I wanted to help people. That is why I got into medicine, and I found that I can help people in more of a holistic way in the church,” he said.
His dedication to God’s work is very important. “I am very loyal,” he said. “I learned that from my family, but I also learned that in the street. When God saved me, I became loyal to Him as an adult.
“I came to know the Lord Jesus through my parents but, really, the person that challenged me and asked me if I wanted to believe in Jesus was my Sunday school teacher, Lois Cadwaller. She led me through the sinner’s prayer. At 9 years old she gave me a Bible and wrote on it, ‘Dear Victor, one day you are going to do great things for Jesus Christ.’ I found the Bible, new, and preserved, and it has encouraged me later in my life.
“I started my ministry teaching the youth at the age of 17, and God gave me the grace of attracting different ethnicities of young people, teaching them all the stories from the Bible,” Victor said. “I already felt privileged to teach the youth after all the things that I had done as a youth. God saved me and allowed me to serve in that capacity for four years.”
He said he is very grateful to the church members, pastors, and leaders who helped him during his training for the pastorate. “I am so grateful to the church for suffering by patiently listening to my message at the age of 22. God knows what he was doing because now, instead of teaching youth, I preach more to adults,” Victor said.
One thing that helps Victor thrive in his in ministry is that he has experienced discrimination among different ethnicities, including his own. His family experienced discrimination because of their culture and their faith. “I never treat anybody like a second-class citizen. That is one of the reasons I help people,” Victor said. “This desire and the love of Christ helped me start The Galaxy Vision. This concept of churches was built on the vision that came out of the pain my family and I suffered and when I promised myself that we will never treat anybody as like a second-class citizen.”
Victor explained that Galaxy is a network of both Southern Baptist and non-Southern Baptist Christian churches that are like-minded and working together to reach the community together. According to Victor, since he has been the lead pastor at his church, they have been planting, adopting, and sponsoring a church every year.
“We don’t charge rent, not for our school, even through the pandemic, even when things got hard,” he said. “As pastors, if tithing is not enough, we go and get jobs as soon as we can and many of us have done it. If the lights got turned off at the church, we would light some candles until the bill was paid.”
First Southern Baptist Church of Anaheim sponsors a Hispanic church, a Kenyan church which is getting ready to re-launch in about a month because of COVID, and a Thai church in California (his mother church where his father is the senior pastor). It also has a Christian school, Anaheim Christian, that serves children from pre-school through 12th grade.
One of Victor’s favorite Bible verses is Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” He wants all people to become one in Christ.
His personal prayer for the SBC, his church, and his other ministries is as follows: “I pray for our kingdom family to come together as a family, to join together for generations and generations to come. I pray that the definition of progress is known when the next generation is better than the one before us, through His Holy Spirit. I pray that by His grace we can create an even better generation for our children and the one to come.”