Dear friends, supporters and prayer partners,
Greetings to you and once again my thanks for your support and encouragement in so many ways, but especially for your prayer support for the workers in Advent Christian ministries in India, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand. As reports have come in over recent weeks it has been again encouraging to see indications of your prayers being answered and evidence of the work of God’s Holy Spirit in many areas of ministry.
Before I share some of the recent exciting and interesting happenings in the ministries in the countries for which I have some responsibility, I want to take the opportunity to wish all who read this update a VERY HAPPY AND BLESSED CHRISTMAS and NEW YEAR SEASON. I was touched recently, when one of the Advent Christian Pastors in Myanmar sent me a picture of his youngest son flying a kite – to me the look on his face was one of expectation, perhaps a little satisfaction and perhaps some underlying joy that all was well at the end of the string! It reminded me that Christmas is the celebration of the beginning of the outworking of God’s wonderful plan of salvation in His Son, Jesus Christ, and the little lad looking up also reminded me of the words of Luke chapter 21, verse 28 which tell us to “…lift up your heads because your redemption is drawing near.” which moment of course will bring the ultimate fulfilment of God’s promises to His people. My prayer is that in the NEW YEAR that lies ahead of us we will allow the Lord to give us the same expectation, satisfaction and joy in our lives and particularly on our faces as we serve Him as we believe He has called us to do. May you and all you love know the Lord’s presence, power, protection and peace throughout 2013.
God continues to bless the ministries of the Advent Christian Conference of Myanmar. December 29 will see the organisation’s Annual Meeting, when the Presidency of the Conference will pass from Pastor T to Pastor K. Please pray for the four leaders of the Conference as they meet and finalise plans for their ministries in the year ahead and for Pastor K as he accepts the responsibilities of leadership for the year ahead. The political situation in their country continues to ease somewhat but there are still situations where the authorities bring pressure on them and their ministries – often this unwelcome interest from the authorities is caused by complaints from neighbours and/or those in opposing faiths. In spite of these pressures our leaders continue to faithfully minister where they are in Yangon and in many other parts of their country, and the Lord continues to use those ministries to bring blessing. I do not yet have all the annual statistics but two of the four groups which make up the Conference report a combined total of 173 baptisms during 2012 – please praise the Lord for these new members of the great, worldwide family of God and pray that they will grow in grace and in the knowledge of their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
You will recall that in recent years, the pigs raised by some of the pastors to generate funds for their ministries and to support the orphan children they care for have been struck by epidemics of various pig diseases. Pastor T has decided to raise chickens instead of pigs and is in the process of building a large chicken house to house 500 chickens – see picture at right. He recently commented “We finished 2/3 chicken house now. After New Year my children will eat chicken eggs every day and can sell some eggs for daily needs” and subsequently, because of a gift from a donor in New Zealand, “I hope we can have more than 200 chickens in this week or next week. We are praying for 500 Chickens because chicken house is big.”
When the Teaching Team visited Myanmar in October, one of Pastor T’s senior workers from his outreaches in northern States of the country – Pastor P – was able, after travelling for several days, to attend the seminars in Yangon. He was the one who had never seen a person with white skin until meeting our team members! Pastor P told us that one of his greatest concerns was that about eighty percent of the people in his village suffer from malaria! In answer to our questioning he told us that the best way to tackle this problem would be the use of mosquito nets by his people. He told us that nets are available from a nearby city and that a two person net costs about NZ$6.25 and four person nets cost about NZ$12.50. Please pray that this need may be met. If the Lord would have you assist with meeting this need – for all the members of the village, not just the Christians – our treasurer would be pleased to send your gift to Myanmar.
The Advent Christian group in Kluang, Malaysia, led by Ruth and Wilfred, continues to meet for fellowship and reaches out to share the blessings of their faith with friends, neighbours and those they meet. Ruth Devairakkam recently reported as follows…
“Greetings in the precious Name of Jesus. Thank you for praying along with us.
PRAISES TO GOD
- A non-Christian lady (our contact) shared how the Lord Jesus gave her strength and ability to walk in victory over many obstacles and difficulties in her life, as she found Him as the source of her emotional strength. She is very happy now and her faith in Jesus is increasing.
- Another young lady experienced a long-awaited miracle. She found the peace of Jesus in her heart. She came to know the power of God as He replaced her losses with His divine favor.
- A non-Christian Chinese gentleman who received an English Bible from us is now learning more about Jesus as he takes time to read it. He would often come over to discuss the things he has read in the Bible. This man’s family lived in our neighborhood when my late father, Rev. T. Devairakkam was pioneering our Advent Christian Church in Kluang in 1973.
Our contact, a non-Christian lady, shared that she wants the Lord Jesus to intervene into her situation, as she wants to reconcile with her daughter. She has not spoken to her or seen her for the past ten years. Her heart aches for a reunion with her daughter. Pray for God to create new opportunities, situations and circumstances so that they can meet each other. She wants to have a heart-to-heart talk with her daughter.”
Please thank the Lord for the working of the Holy Spirit in the lives of these particular individuals and continue to uphold this small group in prayer as their one-on-one ministry points others to their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The Advent Christian Conference of India’s outreach in Bihar, North India, led by Pastor Paul Sunder Raj continues to reach out to show Christian care and compassion to those in Khagaria and surrounding districts. Recent reports from Brother Denny Moses, who looks after communications and publicity for the group, are as follows…
“Greetings to you in the unchanging name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who was risen from the dead. We thank our Almighty who enabled us and strengthened us to do ministry in His vineyard. In the year of 2008 newly we started ministry in the place of Baliya through Pas. Santhosh. The church has grown day by day – with the grace of God many people came from different villages nearby Baliya. But nearly 5km from Bailya, there is a village called Sanna. In that village many people started to know Jesus but it was quite difficult to come to the church every Sunday because of lack of transport and they were unable to spend the money too.
But the grace of God and our prayer supported us to open a small church in that place of Sanna Village. For that place Bidhu Devi and Shankar Das Family has given their own place for time being to conduct the church. We have built a small shed for time being so that there will be no disturbance for the believer’s to come. Head Missionary M. Paul Sundar Raj dedicated this church on 2 December 2012. So please, we request you to join us to pray to buy new land in that place so that in future we will not have more hindrance for the ministry.”
“FIRST TAILORING CENTRE (tailoring = sewing. Ernie)
Greetings to you in the loving name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We thank God that He has chosen us to extend His kingdom in Bihar. We all are doing well in our ministry.
God was so good to us in the past month of November. God has enabled us to start a first tailoring teaching centre in Bihar, Khagaria at Bala Bazar Advent Church, on 29-11-12 and dedicated by Head missionary Paul Sundar Raj. For this work God arranged Mr. Edward (Teacher at Advent Christian School Chennai – Guindy) from Selaiyur Advent Christian church [in Chennai] by his offering 13,000 Rupees – with this we bought two tailoring machines and with it Pas. Santhosh Mother Mrs. Rupa Devi will be teaching tailoring to the (women) church believers and to the village women. Through this work she will be sharing the Word of God to the village women and they will be trained to survive in their life.
Do pray for this social work it will be useful for the uneducated women and through this many people will know the love of God. We are planning to start in other branch churches – please pray for that so that many people get benefit to sustain their life and our God’s name will be glorified.”
Please continue to pray for Pastor Paul Sunder Raj and his team of eleven pastors and for all their families. Because of financial difficulties within the AC Conference of India in Chennai, the folk in Bihar have not received their salaries for several months and are struggling to find enough to support themselves. Yesuway Jeevan Mission is doing all we can to assist them financially. Please pray that the Lord will meet their needs and will ensure that the ministry continues in Khagaria – by God’s grace the AC ministry, along with many other India based ministries, is touching many lives for the Lord Jesus Christ in the State of Bihar.
In Thailand, Christian Mission Naratchakwai continues to see the Lord’s hand of blessing on their ministries to children and young people. John Middlewood and Maeo ask for continuing prayer for the nine young ladies who have committed their lives to Jesus Christ, some very recently – Pan, Toom and Jaeub, Nun, Bee, Ploy, Lita, Bpun and Beem2 – and who are so much help to John in the ministry activities at the Mission and in the teaching of English at “English Camps” in the elementary schools.
Please pray especially for Nun. She is at present sending applications all over Thailand to enter nursing training for the next academic year. This means of course that CMN will lose her and that wherever she is accepted she will be living in an in-campus dormitory. It is likely that her faith will be sorely tested in that circumstance.
“Since December 7 we have had our first annual meeting of our new group [Christ for All People Church Association] and we thank and praise God for all of your prayers that have helped to bring this dream to fruition. The meetings were very encouraging and uplifting. Please pray that God will guide and bless us as we go into the New Year.”
“[The] Business meeting was a great success and I met some new people. Everybody is looking at the new organisation with positive things that we can do now that we could not do before when the [NTM people] we running things. Pray that things will continue and we will get closer together.”
He advises that since the meeting they have received the approval paperwork from the Evangelical Fellowship of Thailand and their organisation is now “official”. He has indicated that they have another, non-denominational church which wants to join the organisation after the beginning of the new year and yet another group that may join them later in the year. Please pray with them that their newly registered organisation may be used by God to bring unity and strength to the Christian witness in their part of Thailand.
In Thailand as in many other Asian countries (including India) where faiths other than the Christian faith predominate, one of the serious problems faced by Christians is finding a place to bury their members. Other faiths and sometimes even the Catholic Church will not allow Christians to be buried in their cemeteries. John has written as follows…
“I have been praying for several years now that we could establish a place, either here in Nakhon Province, Mukdahan Province or Sakon Nakon Province, for Christians to conduct burial services – either for interment or cremation. At present there is no facility that I know of in our three provinces. Current practice in some places is take the body out in the woods, put it on a big pile of wood, throw on some gasoline or something else and light it off. In the past we have been on the side-lines of New Tribes Mission, so I have not said much about it, except to discuss it a little bit with [some of the local leaders]. I have found that it is a concern of the other churches also. The first problem is to find an area that a local village would approve of for a Christian cemetery. Buddhists and the Spirit worshippers are afraid of spirits from the Christian group so are reluctant to approve of it. Second, we would need to find out if the law [of Thailand] and customs would allow a body to be transported from one place to another.”
and…. “Pastor Jarat [President of Christ for all People Church Association] agrees with me about a cemetery for protestant Christians but not much has been done up to now. Costs, for the most part will be for the land and a small structure for funerals in case of rain, and possible a crematorium. After the first of the year, Jarat will start meeting with various government officials in Sakon Nakhon Province and Nakhon Phanom Province to see what kind of government problems may be involved. Once that is done, we will have to start looking for land and a local village that will allow a Christian cemetery. At present we are just praying that God will open the doors so the right people can be contacted and be receptive to the idea. Later, when we start looking for land, we will be able to come up with an estimate of what it will cost.”
Will you please support John and his colleagues in prayer as they seek to find a solution to this problem? Please pray that they will find helpful authorities at Provincial and village level. I will keep you advised of progress in these negotiations.
Please continue to pray for Baby Bleum, the infant son of Pastor Nhum and his wife Jutjang. Latest news is that he is at home, and “doing better but still is pretty much in isolation because his immune system is so weak”. Please pray that it may be God’s will that this little fellow may be quickly and completely healed, and that his parents and wider family may have peace of heart and mind. Pray too for wisdom for the doctors and technicians involved with his treatment.
Please continue to pray that the Lord will lead a suitable Thai pastor to the Christian Mission to assist John with the spiritual ministries and to take some of the very significant load that he is carrying at this time. A Thai pastor will also be of significant help with visitation and ministry to the folk who live in the village of Naratchakwai.
Finally, please continue to pray for Maeo’s health. Since her stay in hospital in late September and the unfortunate side-effects of the drugs she was given, she has continued to make slow but steady progress. However the side- effects of the drug are still present to some extent and this situation continues to be concerning to John.
Many thanks once again for your prayers and your partnership with us in Advent Christian ministries in south-east Asia. God bless you as you serve Him in this way.