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Southeast Asian Missions
P.O. Box 701250
San Antonio, TX 78270
A BRIEF HISTORY OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN MISSIONS
Dr. L. Thomas Rayner
Many years ago, in the early 1900's, Dr. L. Thomas Rayner, the founder of Southeast Asian Missions,
heard the call of the LORD to bring the Gospel to the millions of people in Southeast Asia who have
never heard of Jesus. He wanted to be a medical doctor so that he could become a medical missionary.
His wife, Eileen, had also trained to be a nurse. Eileen wanted to go to India to do medical missionary
work, and Dr. Rayner agreed. They went to India before WWII.
After several years of language training, they worked with World Wide Missions at a hospital in
northern India. They had been there for a number of years when Eileen contacted confluent smallpox in 1951.
Two weeks later Eileen died suddenly from the deadly disease. Dr. Rayner was with her, and described the event:
"It was as if Eileen saw a vision of Jesus as she was looking through the ceiling, and said, "Oh, Jesus!" and
then died." Dr. Rayner was devastated by her death.
People at that time were afraid of smallpox in India since it was very contagious and some strains are very lethal.
While Dr. Rayner and his adopted son, David, were up in the mountains burying Mrs. Rayner, someone had set their
home on fire for fear of smallpox being spread. Only a few days later, David became ill, and died within a week
from probable hemorrhagic smallpox.
Mrs. Eileen Rayner
Beginnings in India
Dr. Rayner was now at the lowest ebb of his life. All of his immediate family was dead, and the fire had destroyed
nearly all of his possessions. For all their years of labor in India, they had seen relatively few who had accepted
Christ. He was brokenhearted and felt that his work had been a failure. He contemplated suicide, but the Lord spoke
to him and told him he must continue to bring the Gospel to the unreached.
Dr. Rayner then decided to go back to Australia where his grandmother lived. After arrival, he felt the need to fast
and pray. After 3 days of prayer and fasting, Dr. Rayner saw a vision of his wife and his two sons, and they were
saying, "Come back to India." He received a phone call from his grandmother saying that she had a similar vision.
He felt strongly that the Lord was leading him to return to India. This time, he went alone with no sponsoring
missionary organization other than a few Christian friends and family. He was not really alone, however, since the
Lord has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us.
Dr. Rayner started working closely with Indian Christian pastors and evangelists. Several of his friends in India
encouraged Dr. Rayner to start his own mission and recommended naming it Southeast Asian Missions.
To watch an oral history video on Dr. Rayner by the late Suzie Peters please click here.
Dr. Rayner worked tirelessly in India. Eventually, he decided to move to Japan where he could not only rest,
but could help the Japanese Christians after WWII. In Japan, he met Yoshiro (John) Watanabe and was actually
involved in saving John's life. He saw him lying on a bench at the train station, due to a heart problem,
and got him to a hospital just in time to save his life. This really touched John's heart, and as a result he
accepted Christ, and continued to help Dr. Rayner and the missionary work for many years.
Initially, Southeast Asian Missions was essentially an Indian Mission, with some additional work in other countries,
including Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, and Japan. Other work, including several children's homes, was added
as time went by. The headquarters was in Japan until the Lord led Dr. Rayner to leave Japan in 1976 and move the
missions to Hawaii. John Watanabe followed to be his assistant until Dr. Rayner's death in 1984.
Meeting Dr. Patrick and Moving to Hawaii
Prior to moving to Hawaii, Dr. Rayner had been invited to visit a church in Portland, OR in the early 1970's.
It was here that Dr. Rayner met Dr. & Mrs. Patrick. The Patrick's quickly became close friends with Dr. Rayner
and began helping him in the mission outreach. During Dr. Patrick's years in and after medical school and his
years in the US Army, the spiritual bond between Dr. Rayner and the Patrick's grew immensely. Dr. Patrick
requested the US Army to move them to Hawaii to work in the military there, and also to make it possible to
work with Dr. Rayner.
The Patrick's moved to Hawaii in 1977 and stayed there for over 22 years until after Dr. Patrick's retirement
from the Army in 1996. Dr. Patrick went on a number of mission trips with Dr. Rayner from the 1970's until
Dr. Rayner's death in 1984. Dr. Patrick continues to work tirelessly both in and out of the medical field and
to faithfully help the growing work of SEAM on the mission field as well as here in the U.S. Dr. Patrick has
been the acting President of Southeast Asian Missions since Dr. Rayner's death in 1984.
Official Non-Profit Status
Shortly after Dr. and Mrs. Patrick moved to Hawaii in 1977, Southeast Asian Missions became officially
incorporated as a 501c3 non-profit organization. It was Dr. Rayner's vision that 100% of donations go to
the missions field as designated, and we still adhere to that goal today.
Death of Dr. Rayner
While Dr. Rayner and John Watanabe were in Kathmandu, Nepal, on a mission trip in 1984, Dr. Rayner had
a fatal heart attack and died at age 66. Dr. Patrick was to meet them in India but had to change his
flight plans to go to Nepal since Dr. Rayner's remains could not be flown out of the country. Dr. Rayner
was buried in the British Embassy Cemetery in Kathmandu, Nepal, with Dr. Patrick giving the funeral service.
There were close friends in attendance, including our beloved Dr. Rao, John Watanabe, plus many other SEAM
workers from India and workers and orphans from Nepal.
It was Dr. Rayner's wishes that Dr. Patrick become the acting President upon his death. John Patrick,
Dr. Patrick's brother, became the Vice President. John Watanabe continued as the Secretary-Treasurer
until 1985 when he resigned due to his failing eyesight and other health problems. After turning over
his duties to Mrs. Patrick, he moved back to Japan that same year.
John Watanabe, Dr. Thomas Rayner and Chaplain (retired) John Patrick - Darmstadt, Germany 1979
With the LORD's blessings, Southeast Asian Missions has continued to grow. We now have over 4,000 churches,
with pastors and evangelists, hundreds of thousands of new believers, orphanages, schools, and many other
mission-related ministries. This work that the Lord has given us now extends to 12 countries. We believe
that the coming years will be the greatest years ever for the mission with continued support and God's
generosity and desire for our continued growth.
A vocal history of South East Asian Missions
South East Asian Missions
P.O. Box 701250
San Antonio, TX 78270
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