(South-South-East Asia Region)
by Ernie Schache
April 9, 2010 — Auckland, New Zealand
Dear prayer partners and friends,
God is continuing to bring blessing to the Advent Christian workers in the countries in Asia for which I have some responsibility. This is because of the dedicated ministries of the national workers – it is a real privilege to be involved and work with them as they serve the Lord with such commitment and dedication in what in almost all cases are difficult conditions and circumstances of one kind or another – and because the Lord is hearing and answering your and our prayers.
I said in my last letter that I would give you more details of the AC ministries in Malaysia.
Malaysia is of course a Muslim country and Christian ministry is not easy or simple there. There is a need to pray for the country as a whole because at present there is increased tension between Christians and Muslims, because of the use of the name “Allah” and sadly the differing views are bringing violence and injury and destruction of property to many.
Keluang is located roughly in the middle of the state of Johor in Malaysia and lies about 110 km north of Johor Bahru, which is the state capital on the southern border of Malaysia and Singapore. The town has more than 140,000 residents.
The Advent Christian Church in Kluang, is presently a small group led by Ruth Devairakkam (daughter of the founder of the work, the late Rev. T. Devairakkam) and her husband, Wilfred. They are assisted by their daughters, Joanna and Jerusha.
The ministry is very much a “one-on-one” ministry, but the members gather together for fellowship and worship every Sunday morning. Ruth visits her contacts in their homes or invites them to her home and shares her faith and the love of the Lord with them. She recently reported as follows:
- “I shared Jesus to Chinese young ladies. They listened attentively. Thank God for this beautiful opportunity. They are hungry for God’s Word. They want to know more. They will be coming over to my home to hear more of Jesus. They will further their studies in Taiwan, in a few months’ time.”
- “I met a non-believer (Indian lady) on my way home. We became friends. She shared her grief and pain that she had been carrying for the past eight years over the loss of her two sons she loved dearly. She said she felt better after sharing with me, and wants to meet me again.”
- “The Lord opened the opportunity for me to share Jesus to a non-believer (Indian lady) who had lost her husband, and was going through a very painful time. She made a decision for Christ. I have given her a Bible.”
- “Thank God for this young Indian gentleman (non-believer) who came to visit us suddenly, at our home. He attended our AC Sunday school during his childhood days. He is married, and was going through a difficult time. He remembered Jesus. He called the name of Jesus for help. Jesus appeared in his dream. He got a breakthrough over his situation. He said he wants to join our home fellowship. He still has the Bible given to him by my late father, Rev. T. Devairakkam.”
- “Another Indian gentleman (non-believer) who lives 70 kilometres away rang up Wilfred to say that he wants to visit us. He is still keeping the Bible given to him by Wilfred 20 years ago. We look forward to have fellowship with him and to share Jesus to him.”
Praise the Lord with Ruth and Wilfred for the work of the Holy Spirit in these lives, and support them in prayer, seeking the Lord’s guidance and power for growth in the Kluang Advent Christian Church in the future.
The last weekend in February was an exciting time for Advent Christian ministries in India. Advent Christian Conference of India (ACCI) President Rev. Paul Aruldoss and Yesuway Jeevan Mission (formerly American Advent Mission) Manager M. M. Immanuel travelled to visit the ACCI outreach in the District of Khagaria in Bihar, a north-eastern State of India.
The ACCI ministry in Khagaria is twofold – the provision of high class education at elementary and high school levels at the St Xavier’s School which is owned and operated by the Conference, and evangelistic outreach in the district. The school gives the Conference a wonderful “bridge” into the community and is greatly appreciated by the people of the city. The Principal of the school is Pastor Chelliah Jesudasan who along with most of the teachers is from Chennai in Tamil Nadu, and the outreach ministries are led by Pastor Paul Sunder Raj who works with a team of nine other pastors.
Pictured left to right – Principal C Jesudasan, Rev P. Aruldoss, Mission Manager M. M. Immanuel, Pastor Paul Sunder Raj.
There was much to praise the Lord for in Khagaria during the weekend in question, and we ask you to join in thanksgiving for God’s blessings and to commit these brothers and sisters who labour under the Advent Christian banner in very primitive and difficult circumstances, to the Lord on a regular basis.
The first celebration was a gathering to dedicate a new parsonage (pictured below, right) at one of the outreach stations – the town of Bala Bazaar. This lovely building, which the Mission helped to provide, replaced a single 10 feet by 10 feet partially underground room (pictured below left) , without any facilities whatsoever, in which the Pastor and the three members of his family have lived for some time. Mission Manager Immanuel was asked to dedicate the new building to the Lord’s service and glory.
The town of Bala Bazaar was one of the first at which the ACCI team ministered, and at one period were preaching to crowds of 25,000 people. No, this is not a mistake – for many months about twenty five thousand people gathered once a month to hear the Gospel preached by Pastor Paul Sunder Raj and the then pastor of the church, Pastor Santosh. Sadly Pastor Santosh’s two brothers were involved in a serious accident, and one of them died and the other was badly injured and is now handicapped. Such is the hold of superstition on the mainly illiterate Hindu people of the area that the people of the town blamed the accident on the fact that the family had embraced Christianity, and the local newspapers printed articles stating that “Jesus is not a powerful God!” However, by God’s grace the ministry continues under the leadership of Pastor Naranjan, who along with his family is delighted with their new home, and the congregation is steadily growing. Pastor Santosh now ministers faithfully in another area of Khagaria.
Following the dedication of the parsonage the team travelled to another town – Mansing – and enjoyed a worship service with more than 100 believers. They then travelled to a village Sunday school and enjoyed fellowship with nearly 100 children, before in the evening visiting and ministering to a colony housing those afflicted with leprosy. Sadly, the State government still isolates these folk but our pastors regularly minister to their spiritual needs, and on this occasion Rev. Aruldoss preached to them of the love of God.
On Sunday morning, the visitors attended a worship service of more than 250 believers at Khagaria, and following the service, the congregation travelled to a nearby canal where Rev. Paul Aruldoss and Pastor Paul Sundar Raj baptised 36 new believers.
Mission Manager Immanuel commented,
“It was really a wonderful scene and a blessing to attend this memorable event”
Please join him in praising the Lord for the public witness of these our 36 new brothers and sisters in the Lord and pray that our workers will continue to nurture them in the ways of the Lord.
Later in the day Immanuel handed over the keys of a jeep type vehicle to Rev Paul Aruldoss representing the ACCI and Pastor Paul Sunder Raj the leader of the Bihar outreach team. In recent weeks the Lord has made it possible for the Mission to purchase a new vehicle to replace the Mahindra Commander which has given the Mission and its staff more than 10 years of very faithful service. The decision was taken to celebrate the arrival of the new vehicle by overhauling the old vehicle and presenting it to the Bihar ministry team, as it is a very rugged and sturdy vehicle which will be very suitable for Bihar conditions.
Pastor Paul Sunder Raj commented on receiving the vehicle,
“Thank you for your supporting [of the] Bihar ministry … through your support we got good and beautiful vehicle that you provided. It’s useful for our ministry. This vehicle will be used in schools, villages, film and various ministries, and through this we can take our sick believers to the hospital and for field visits so on. This vehicle will bring many new souls to God’s kingdom…thanks for your help and love and care and prayer.”
Mission driver Raja (far left in picture) and a team of staff members had driven virtually non-stop for 6 days to take the vehicle by road from Chennai to Khagaria – Immanuel and Rev Paul Aruldoss had travelled by air to Kolkata (Calcutta) and then by train for 12 hours to Khagaria. Thank the Lord for safe travel on these journeys and for all 7 of them on the return, two and a half day journey by train to Chennai.
Yesuway Jeevan Mission supports the Bihar ministry financially each month and has recently also provided them with a portable diesel generator. This will be used to provide power for village ministry – for sound systems and projectors used in film ministry, and also to provide electric power for the church at Khagaria and for Pastor Sundar Raj’s home – electricity is often available only for two or three hours each day!
Mission Manager Immanuel commented on his return to Chennai…
“Overall I feel it is a very difficult ministry. I felt that Tamil Nadu would have been in this condition some 60 years back when our missionaries were in India There is very good potential [in Khagaria] for a very good ministry. People are looking for some kind of Saviour… and our Mission can undoubtedly help the Bihar ministry as opportunity permits.”
Yesuway Jeevan Mission will certainly take every opportunity to assist the Bihar ministry, based in Khagaria, at every opportunity, and we ask for your partnership in prayer to support these dedicated men and women of God – Pastor Paul Sunder Raj and his wife Sudar and the 9 pastors in the team, and Pastor Jesudasan and the teachers at St Xavier’s School – as they serve the Lord so faithfully.
John and Maeo Middlewood (pictured) continue to minister at the Christian Mission Naratchakwai in the Nakhon Phanom Province in northeast Thailand. Their work at present is mainly with children and young people and their main “bridge into the community” is the teaching of English to the young people who attend their activities and to children in a more than 30 schools in the area around their village. They teach English because they recognise that young people who are able to speak English have a much better chance of getting good jobs when they leave school or university. They also provide tuition facilities at their home for their young people, including computers and internet access, which enable them to achieve higher grades in their education, particularly at High School and University.
This focus on education and English tuition is of course done with emphasis on the sharing of the love of God and the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. John was recently able to report…
“We had 35 people in church this morning with 3 new teens and a promise of another one to be there next weekend. Praise God!!!! We have now 5 teens who have stood up and said they accept Christ and every one of them stood up to witness in church this morning – I almost had a heart attack; I have been praying for it for so long.”
Rejoice with John and Maeo and thank the Lord that their prayers for some of their young people to openly and publicly declare their faith have been answered. A number of their older young people have been trained to teach English and they are now involved in teaching other children at their regular “English Camps” held at various schools.
Pray especially for the young people who have publicly confessed their faith in Jesus Christ. They will inevitably experience severe pressure from their families and peers at school in this country where Buddhism, with its significant emphasis on spirit worship, is the predominant faith.
In that regard, I ask you to pray especially for the situation set out in the recent message (below) from John regarding one of their early converts and former church members – Nong. Nong is in her late 30s and is married with three children and is pictured with two of her children and Maeo and others of the congregation at right.
I ask for this special and specific prayer as I remember with great joy the way in which God answered our prayers for seemingly impossible situations during the years I was living in India – some of you will remember the miracles of the restoration of Rev. Magimaidas’ and Brinda’s marriage and of Pastor Jerald’s and Anu’s marriage as two wonderful instances. Both of these couples are serving the Lord with great enthusiasm – because we prayed and God kept His promise to hear and answer the prayers of His people! I believe that if we pray for Nong we will also see God’s power work in her life.
“I request prayers for Nong; one of our first members here. Satan has won the battle for the moment in her life. Her family and relatives are all spirit worshipers and have had problems over the last several months, including the death of her father. Her mother is one of the spirit leaders in this group. Nong has moved away from Christ for a year or so now. Today she came to withdraw her membership at the Christian Mission. Her family and relatives have blamed her and her attending church as the cause of all of their problems. It seems as though a fortune teller told the family the father would die within 3 days and he did. Since that time Nong has been carrying a load of guilt for her father’s death. The relatives, family and particularly mother have convinced her [that] the only solution is to renounce God and Christ and she has chosen that route. She was also told that the spirits would kill her mother if she did not renounce God. Please pray that God will intervene in this situation and give Nong strength, peace and light to return to God.
This is typical of the kinds of problems our children face when they go home to talk about Christ. If an adult has the kind of problems Nong has, you can imagine the effect it has on the children and teens. Please keep all of us in your prayers. God Bless, Christian Mission – John and Maeo”
May God bless you for your willingness to partner with John and Maeo in these ministries in Thailand by your prayers.
Yours in His service,
Ernie Schache | PO Box 80010 | Green Bay | Waitakere 0643 | New Zealand