Newly Arrived Students: Thanawat & Phichanida Wichaphon

L-R: Rev Jonathan Yao (seated), Wong Ee Yuing, Boon-Koh Aitee, Phichanida Wichaphon (Peung), Thanawat Wichaphon (Off)

Thanawat and Phichanida Wichaphons are the first couple to have arrived in Singapore from Thailand for our new semester this June. They are better known by their nicknames Off and Peung. Off has been enrolled in Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies since July 2022 and Peung has been attending online Partners-in-Ministry classes. They are thrilled to finally take the classes at EAST on-site in the upcoming semester and have face to face interactions with faculty, students and staff.

EAST News had the opportunity to ask a few questions to get to know this “cool couple”  better (as some have described them) and share their journey to EAST.

  1. What led Off to study MAICS and Peung to take PIM classes at EAST?

Is it fair to say it was not my choice (Off)? It might not. But my plan for MA study started before we got married in 2006. We aimed to get married and enrol in an institute together as we wanted to serve in full-time ministry. After we got married, that plan never happened. We continued to serve full-time in student ministry. 2010 we prepared ourselves again to leave everything behind and apply for a Missions-minded institute. The door shut during the preparation process. Two years later I was offered to study full time in another institute. The Lord said, “Not yet.” MA in theology plan for me seemed to be something that never came true. The more I was involved in ministry, the less possibility it seemed to happen.

In 2022, two of my friends suggested for me (Off) to audit an online course at EAST. To me, it sounded very interesting and so I did. The next semester, I became a part-time MA student joining classes from Chiang Mai. As I serve full-time ministry with a mission agency, I then chose to enrol in Intercultural Studies. I had many plans but the way God led me to EAST was not my choice. It was His plan.

As for Peung, she wanted to grab the opportunity that came along with my study. Standing behind me and hearing what I shared from my studies clearly showed her that EAST is a solid institute and it will help her grow deeper in her ministry and relationship with God. She started taking online PIM classes as well.


  1. How has the journey been since you first started with EAST in 2022 as online students to now joining us on-site in Singapore?

My first year was not easy at all. It was like you took off your shoes and walked on the ground where your feet are not used to it. There were many times I wanted to run back and put on the shoes I was familiar with. Those unfamiliar factors for me were language (English is not my native language), readings (both for the amount of reading and the language), time management with study, and full-time ministry that I do. However, the Lord has helped me thus far!  Coming here as an on-site student is something I have been looking forward to because class participation and fellowship with classmates and instructors would be the great benefit that I missed throughout the first two years of my online attendance.

  1. What ministries have both of you been involved with before joining EAST, and right now?

As mentioned earlier, we served with the Thai Christian Student Association (Thai IFES) during 2006-2010. 2012 till present, Off has been serving with OMF International. Peung has a heart for social justice as her background is in Political Science. Before she came to join OMF in 2023, she had served with an anti-human trafficking organization.

  1. What do you plan to do after completing your training at EAST?

If this is the choice we could make, we would continue serving with OMF International for Thailand. If the One who gave us the only choice we never made directed us in any direction, we would still follow. However, our hearts and desires will still be involved in Missions.

  1. What are some of your hobbies?

Peung: Indoor planting and taking care of our pets (2 rabbits and a cat)

Off: Running, photography, and music.

Off and Peung had to leave behind their beloved pets (2 rabbits and a cat) while pursuing their studies at EAST. Peung revealed that this “leaving behind”, “helps us understand more about the missionary life –  letting go of everything as following God’s calling!”

Do pray for Off and Peung to experience much growth in all areas of their life as God equips them through diverse cultures and peoples they will encounter in EAST and Singapore. May God bestows them with lifelong spiritual friendships through the special ones He will bring into their lives during their time here and strengthen their faith and knowledge of Him.

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