Auckland, New Zealand
Dear prayer partners and friends
Thank you once again for your continuing prayer and practical support for AC ministries in South East Asia. I said in my October update that the Lord continued to answer your prayers and reports were coming in of those who had surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ because of the ministries of those you pray for so regularly and so faithfully. Because God is so faithful and because of His power, that continues to be the case – I regularly get comments in messages from the leaders in “my” countries (I am very, very glad that they are not really “my” countries but the Lord’s!!) that there have been those who have stepped from darkness to light and from death to LIFE – please remember to thank and praise the Lord for such miracles of grace. It is often only one or two in number, but I am reminded that Luke 15 verse 10 tells us that “…there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”Let’s keep the angels very busy in rejoicing as we continue to uphold in prayer those who serve the Lord in India, Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia.
I note that in each of my updates of the last few months, I have asked you to pray especially for our Mission Manager in Chennai – Immanuel (picture). I ask you to continue with such prayer, on a daily basis if possible, as he is very much “at the front line” of the Mission’s activities in India and he is really “under fire” at the moment.
With no foreign personnel in Chennai on a permanent basis any longer, he is under severe pressure on a number of fronts from a small number of dissidents within the AC organisations; from three ex-employees of those organisations; and more recently from a Mission staff member who has stepped well over the bounds of reasonable behaviour. Sadly, most of the problems relate to money and the apparent inability of those concerned to trust the Lord for His promise that He will meet their needs as He has promised to do. When the Mission cannot or will not accede to the often ridiculous demands of these folk there have been threats of legal action, some of which actions are in fact partially under way; threats of violence against the Mission property and staff and particularly against Immanuel personally, and in the last few days actual violence against a Mission staff member has occurred.
Immanuel is a brother of complete integrity and is standing firm in the face of abuse, threats and real physical danger and continues to state his resolve to do whatever is necessary to protect the Mission and its people and property, and especially to protect the reputation of his Lord. I do not know how we would cope without him in his leadership role! Please pray for Immanuel and his family(who live on the Mission property at Guindy) aand for the other staff members and their families – Joseph, Raja, Grace, Deveraj and Daniel – some live on the property and some live elsewhere in their own homes.
Again I ask you to pray for the leaders of the two Conferences in India – Rev Paul Aruldoss and Rev Prabu Manuel, and for their leadership teams. These organisations are experiencing severe financial difficulties at present – many of these difficulties would be avoided if there was a willingness to trust the Lord and to insist on discipline and reasonableness and a servant attitude within the organisations.
Negotiations are continuing for the leasing of the Conference and Mission land at Guindy – completing this deal would bring immediate relief for the Conference to their financial situation. Please pray for wisdom and patience for Immanuel and myself and our legal and financial advisors as we negotiate with the proposed lessee and for the leaders of the Conference as they will soon consider the proposal. Pray that the Conference folk will be able to look at the proposal on a long term basis and will be able to put aside what amounts to personal greed in the case of some Executive Committee members.
In October the monsoon rains brought severe flooding in the State of Andhra Pradesh, and brought destruction and hardship to the homes and lives of 36 families of a relatively newly planted Advent Christian church in the town of Adda Road. The Advent Christian General Conference in the United States graciously responded with assistance from their Hunger and Relief Fund and earlier this month Immanuel and Rev Paul Aruldoss travelled to Adda Road and distributed blankets and clothes to each family, with extra assistance given to a few whose homes had suffered serious damage. Pastor Paul Kantham gathered his congregation together for a service of thanksgiving and praise to express their appreciation for the timely assistance. Opportunities such as this to help the underprivileged and unfortunate are a real blessing – please thank the Lord for all those in the chain of giving and delivering, and for the opportunity to show Christian care and compassion.
Christians in Myanmar continue to feel the pressure from government authorities who are determined to destroy Christianity in that Buddhist land, and in recent days the pressure has come upon our Advent Christian brothers and sisters.
Pastor D, who was recently elected Chairman of the Advent Christian Conference of Myanmar, advised this week that his recently completed new home/church had been closed by the authorities and he had been forced under considerable physical pressure at the authorities’ office to sign a document undertaking not to conduct worship services in his home. His words as he told me of these happenings were “But we are never give up and are working hard for our Lord as underground style…Prayer for us and helping possible ways for the kingdom to fulfil the Great Commission of Jesus Christ here in Myanmar”
One of the other ACCM leaders, Pastor T advised a few days later that “More than 40 poor families’ houses were destroyed at my area today including my member house (I built for them last 5 months ago). Please pray for them.” (Picture of one of the destroyed homes to the right)
Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Myanmar as they suffer severe persecution for their faith. Thank the Lord for their steadfastness and commitment to carry on with their ministries and pray that they will be kept safe from harm. Pray too, for the soon return of democracy to their country.
John and Maeo Middlewood at Christian Mission Naratchakwai advise that the pressures in Thailand are different to those in Myanmar. There is “freedom of worship” in Thailand but there is also great apathy and worldliness in the community, but the pressures of Buddhism and its culture are placing significant pressures on their young people who commit their lives to Jesus Christ. He recently advised that “It is becoming more and more difficult here. We had 24 in church yesterday, and of that group there were only 3 adults and 4 teens. The rest were all elementary [school] children.”
He also requested that we “pray for the teens that have left, that they might see the light of God and come back. Kim, Yee, Got, Jame, Dao, Ying. Tong can’t make up his mind. He keeps coming but claims to be Buddhist. Bpun, 7th grade, is starting to get a bit wishy washy, so we are trying to figure out what is going on with her.
Ae, Amporn, Yee2 are hanging in there, Nam is busy with her school and helps when she can.” Please pray for each of these young people individually.
Please support John and Maeo in prayer, and continue to pray for the Lord’s leading and provision for a young couple from the United States who are considering committing themselves to career missionary service in Thailand. They will be visiting Naratchakwai in January 2010 to “spy out the land” prior to making a final decision.Please pray that the Lord’s will may be very clear to them and that resources for their travel and support will be provided by the Lord.
Please also pray for the 12 young teachers (pictured) from the United States, who through the WORLD TEACH organisation are teaching English for a year in some (13) of the schools which John works in. Most of the American young people are not Christians – please pray that the Lord may use John and Maeo and their faithful young people to reflect His love for them and turn them to faith in Jesus Christ.
Thank you once again for your partnership and fellowship with those who serve the Lord in Advent Christian ministries in Southeast Asia. God bless you as you serve Him in this way.
NZ Special Relief Fund Update
I want to thank those who continue to contribute to the NZ SPECIAL RELIEF FUND which was set up some years ago to allow me to help in situations where the Mission’s guidelines and budgetary constraints do not allow help to be given to Mission staff, and pastors and other workers of the Advent Christian Conferences in India. The fund is even more important and helpful at this time of financial constraint – although I am no longer resident in India, the fund still operates and over recent months has assisted many of our folk in difficult situations – our Mission Manager Immanuel seeks my approval for each situation that he becomes aware of and we have been able to continue to show Christian care and compassion for many families.
Recent situations the fund has assisted with include help forMission Driver E Raja (pictured) for treatment for an eye problem; payment of fees for a course of studies about the Islamic faith for Pastor Neil Armstrong, who is ministering to Muslim people in Chennai; medical costs for staff member (cook) Grace; assistance for Mission gardener E Daniel to repair the walls of his home which were damaged by torrential rain; assistance with the maternity costs for FBHC Pastor Sampathkumar and his wife at the recent birth of their child and additional help for Bible Woman Mary Saroja for ongoing treatment/check-up expenses following her operation for cancer. It was real blessing to be able to assist these folk, and others, as often without assistance from the fund the medical treatments in particular would not be undertaken.
Please thank the Lord for those who make this possible and pray that He will continue to allow us to give this help when it is needed.