Conversion story of Sompob Trisiripisarn
Compiled by Vachiravan Vanlaeiad
I was born on 2 June 1946 in Bangkok. I was the 6th of 8 siblings in a Chinese (Taecheo) family living in Thailand. My father was a successful master builder and land allocator. So my childhood life was not so tough, leaving me time and attention to study only.
When I was 17 years old, I had developed chronic insomnia, having consistent sleeplessness. This had made me tremendously suffer from great tension and devastating health. My parents had taken me to see both Thai and Chinese medical doctors (both modern and folk medicine) in Thailand. I was a patient of Dr. Prasop Ratanakorn (one of Thailand’s renowned specialists on neurology and psychology). They also took me to receive treatments as far as Japan in the hope that my severe sleeplessness would be healed. However, my insomnia problems were still unsolved despite an enormous pile of pills plus Chinese herbal medicine I had taken.
In desperation, my mother had to seek help from a black magic woman and spiritual medium in Bangkok. This time they had made me eat joss stick ashes and silver & gold paper, but to no avail. Finally my parents had given up on me (since they had another 7 children to take care of), leaving me fighting with this severe insomnia alone.
From then on I had to fight my sleeplessness by myself. I would follow anyone’s advices that came along my path. I would meditate, make Tai Chi move (a traditional Chinese exercise), make transcendental meditation (TM), and do exercises: jogging and swimming. I had tried my very best and every method to be cured of insomnia, but unsuccessful. I therefore had stopped seeking any treatments or taking any pills or medicine, and turned to live sarcastically ruined life instead. I started touring nightclubs, doing gambling, and visiting prostitutes (besides having relationships with various women). This had been my lifestyle since youth until the day I accepted Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Savior (30 years later).
Thank God that despite various sufferings I encountered, I had managed to graduate from Thammasat University (Bachelor of Law). Then I had passed the government examination to be Assistant District Officer at Department of Provincial Administration, Ministry of Interior. Then I had firstly been assigned to work at Lat Bua Luang District, Ayutthaya Province (a former capital city of Thailand). Nevertheless, my work efficiency was diminished as a result of the effects of my sleeplessness at night: exhaustion, distraction (having no concentration), and tiredness. This had made me so tired of working.
I had met my wife at this district office. Working closely as supervisor and subordinate had ended in a relationship, causing her to be pregnant. When her pregnancy was 7 months old, I had to move to work at Krathum Baen District Office in Samut Sakhon Province (a neighboring province of Bangkok). Even though I had a wife and one son, I still maintained my usual lifestyle, especially my having relationships with many women, resulting in my wife having asked for divorce twice. After I had told her that after the divorce, I must be the one who solely took care of our children, she had canceled her plans.
After working at Krathum Baen District Office for 2 years, I was transferred back to the Department of Provincial Administration (DOPA). However, due to my tiredness and weariness caused by my ruined health and lack of sleep, I thus quitted the government job, foreseeing my impossible progress at work. During this time my family was prosperous since my father was a successful businessman. Even while working for the government, I had assisted in my family business (real estate). This resulted in my having a life membership status in the Nakhon Pathom’s Chamber of Commerce Registration.
So, after working at the DOPA for more than a year, in 1977 I had resigned from the government and started my own business. I had begun by helping my family business. Then in 1981, my father had died, I thus inherited 2 plots of land. I had constructed townhouses on one plot (Yannawa area) while the other plot I had, in 1993, developed and built “Sompob Plaza” (Omyai, Nakhon Pathom Province) which presently has been changed to “Happy Plaza”. At present, Happy Plaza consists of a fresh market, stores, a minimart, an apartment building, a radio station (Happy FM 94.75), and a church (Thiansang Church Omyai).
The huge profit gained from selling approx. 30 units of townhouses in Yannawa had rendered me capital funds to buy a plot of land in Bangna area (in the outskirt of Bangkok) in 1982 and built an apartment building named “H-Tel Court,” which is located nearby the present Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Center (BITEC). Later the apartment building had been converted and modernized into “H-Tel Resort” Hotel.
During this time, I already had 4 children (3 sons and 1 daughter) and still suffered chronic insomnia. At the same time, I had also maintained my devastating lifestyle of visiting nightclubs, gambling, and committing polygamy. This had caused me and my wife having constant fights, especially over my women. Gambling was also my serious problem. I was so addicted to gambling that I had visited almost every renowned gambling house/casino both in Thailand and overseas (Macau, Genting, Las Vegas, etc.), and my betting money spent on the gambling had reached up to millions Baht. Although I was a night owl and womanizer, I would go home every night (even though some nights about 4-5 am) in order for my children to see me every morning before they went to school!
Also during these times, I had started my new business: being a host of lottery gambling (3 times per month). And two years after I had forced my wife to resign from the government job in 1984 to keep the house and care for our children, I had made her take part in the business by answering calls and writing down lottery records. In this way my wife had gained some extra income plus her monthly salary as a housewife.
The income received from lottery gambling business (starting from a few hundreds of thousands Baht up to 5-6 million Baht per time) plus money gained from my other businesses and borrowed from the Bank, I could develop another plot of land in Bangna area and construct “Highway Inn” Apartment, which was developed and modernized to be the present Avana Hotel. This three-star hotel has opened its operation since 1998. It is located only 1 kilometer from the BITEC and approx. 25 kilometers from Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Gambling had been constantly in my blood veins that I could not live without it. So in 1989, after our family of nine (my wife, my 7 children and me) had moved to our present house in Thonburi (a former capital city of Thailand), I had not only used my new house as the lottery gambling base, but also a gambling den. I had arranged many rooms to suit many kinds of games: Mahjong, Dummy, Poker, Bacara, etc. Strangely enough that even though I had set up a huge spotlight in front of my big house, proclaiming openly it was a gambling house; I had had no problems with any police officers or authorities since I had set up a big signboard in front of my house, saying “House of Assistant District Officer Sompob!”
And although I had a room full of Buddha images and amulets, I had not believed in anything or anyone except myself. Before converting into Christianity, I had only believed and trusted in my thought and my ability.
Due to my devastating and unhealthy lifestyle I had lived since I was diagnosed with chronic insomnia at 17 years of age, now in 1994 (after 30 long years), this lifestyle had taken its toll on me. And although I had been very successful in real estate business, I still encountered various sufferings caused by chronic insomnia. As time went by, both my mental and physical health had been greatly and gradually deteriorating and I had stopped seeing any doctors or taking any medicine or pills for a long time since these methods could not relief my sufferings. As a result, I had caught cold every day, and my digestive and excretory system had been absolutely abnormal, causing bruised and foggy face. Moreover, I had been extremely tired and easily stressful and irritable. To make matters worse, my wife and I had constantly quarreled with each other.
I had been in this situation until 1994 when one of my friends, Wanna Ulapathorn, wife of the then Senator told me about God and invited me to church for many times. Each time I would brush aside, asking her: “Where is God? How can I believe in God that cannot be seen?” However, out of consideration, I finally went to church with her!
First day at Thiansang Bangkok Church, I felt like crying. During worship, Pastor Winai Phruti-satayakul had made the invitation to accept God, telling us that if we invited Him into our hearts, He would help us achieve everything. I thus went to the pulpit to accept God, hoping this God would cure me of my chronic insomnia. I then prayed to God to heal me and God had done a miracle. That is, while standing praying to God, I felt something flaring up in my chest for about 5 seconds, which is like the invisible hands were re-systematizing my body. From then on, my sleeplessness has been slowly subsided. Before bedtime, I would read the Bible. And if any night I was sleepless, I would pray hard and then I would sleep well. At present, I still have some sleepless nights; nevertheless, with the help of God and of the Holy Spirit, I have been greatly empowered to do my daily works as good and as efficiently as any people having 8-hour sleep.
After opening my heart to Jesus Christ, I had immediately and absolutely quitted gambling, touring nightclubs, visiting prostitutes, having affairs with women, and especially, ceasing being host of lottery gambling. This is because I knew the money received from lottery gambling was sinful. And for my business administration, even though I have not graduated in this field, God has granted me the ability to manage both my hotels and department store. Before, I would be serious and stressful administrating my businesses; however, after my conversion, I would pray and submit everything into God’s Hands and all the problems would be eased up. And I firmly believed that if all my staffs, both at the hotels and the store, were converted into Christianity, all my businesses would be improved and profitable. As a result, I had taught some Bible lessons to my staffs at the store and there were approx. 30 persons receiving Jesus into their hearts. And at present, I teach the Bible to Avana Hotel’s staffs every Wednesday. Up to now, there are tens of staffs having been converted.
Following my conversion, the Lord Jesus Christ has so filled His love into my heart that it has been unceasingly flowing to my wife and all my children. Therefore, not only I love myself more (by stopping living devastating life), but I also could love my wife and my children much more than before. These great changes in me had consequently made my wife, children, and one of my sister open their hearts to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Presently 4 of my children have assisted in my businesses, granting me and my wife more time to serve God.
Presently, even though I still have some sleepless nights; however, by the great power of the Holy Spirit, I have been able to live a normal life and serve God by preaching and giving testimony in various churches, in Bangkok and throughout the country. I also use my Avana Hotel as the venue for organizing evangelism campaigns to spread the Good News to both business persons (local and international) and the general public.