As we come to the end of another year and therefore to the time when we specially remember God’s great gift to us – His Son our Saviour – I want to thank you once again for your support of our brothers and sisters in South East Asia who serve the Lord under the Advent Christian banner. Your interest, your encouragement, your prayers and your support in many practical ways is a blessing to me, to ACGC’s World Outreach Department and of course most importantly, to those who serve the Lord at the “front line” in India, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia and the Philippines. On behalf of all those covered by the last sentence I wish you a blessed and joyous Christmas and trust that the New Year will bring for you the continuing presence of the Lord, and all that His presence means to those who love Him and serve Him. May God bless you as you have blessed our folk in South East Asia.
The message of Christmas is of course the same in all of these countries but the people, the customs and cultures and the needs are very different. In most cases AC workers are ministering to the very poor and the underprivileged and in particular to children. In many cases the workers are themselves poor and their resources are limited, but at this time of the year they find ways and means to reach out to those around them and to remind them of the real meaning of Christmas. In this update I will share with you just a few of the ways that the Christmas story is being shared with those to whom they minister and seek to share Christian love, care, and compassion.
In Yangon, Pastor Timothy and his family have chosen a very different way of reaching out to some of the many very poor families in his district – the largest and poorest district in the city – this Christmas. They have set aside US$200 (about 195,200 Burmese kyats) to buy gifts for 600 poor people in their district. They are preparing different kinds of gifts and will distribute Christian tracts with the gifts when they are handed out closer to 25 December
As he described his plans he said …
“My prayer is to have and to increase more and more fellow workers in Christ for my nation. My great duty is to preach John 3:16-17 not only for my nation but for all nations. I preach 1 Cor. 15:1… all the time for all people.”
In late November they handed out 600 tickets to a very long line of residents from his neighbourhood – see pictures below. According to instructions on their tickets they will come to his home in small groups from 1 December to 20 December and will receive their gifts and tracts, given in the love of Jesus Christ.
He said… “We are providing 600 tickets not only for Christmas gifts but also for fighting poverty. Please pray for my area people. It is from my family and my home church activity.”
Please thank the Lord for Timothy and his family and pray for them and the 19 orphans they care for in their home – pray that their expressions of love and the tracts may, in the power of the Holy Spirit, touch the hearts and lives of many of those 600 people with whom they are sharing the message of Christmas this month.
Pray too for the other three leaders of the Advent Christian Conference of Myanmar and their families and for their special ministries based on the Christmas message. The four leaders and their co-workers care for a total of 209 orphan children as well as their own children and all of these children will see and hear the message of Christmas presented in very meaningful ways.
The little Advent Christian group in Kluang, led by Sister Ruth Devairakkam and her husband Wilfred, continues its remarkable one-to-one ministry to their friends, neighbours and contacts both in their city and elsewhere. Their witness, ministry and counsel have brought joy and peace to the lives of many throughout the year.
Earlier this year the members of the group expressed the wish to reach out to bless others as they celebrated Christmas. Because of gifts given by supporters in New Zealand they have sufficient funds available to provide gifts for the 20 children in an orphanage with which they are in contact and to the parents and 5 children of a very poor family to whom they minister in various ways. Thank you to those who gave generously to allow this group to share the message of Christmas with the needy. We hope to have pictures early in the New Year to share with you.
Please pray for our Malaysian brothers and sisters and for their Christmas celebrations and outreach. Pray that the Lord will bless their efforts and continue to touch the hearts and lives of those to whom they minister.
Yesuway Jeevan Mission (YJM) in Chennai partners with and supports financially 10 Christian groups/organisations in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Manipur States. Five of these organisations are involved in the care and welfare of orphans and underprivileged, sick or handicapped children; one is a rehabilitation centre for adults affected by HIV/AIDS and /or alcohol or drug addiction; one is a large school for poor children and three are outreach ministries of the Advent Christian Conference of India in other States of the country.
The children cared for by the various organisations have been blessed in many ways during the past year, and we are very grateful to those who continue to give generously to allow us to support and bring joy into these precious young lives. Throughout 2013, one of the adult Sunday school classes of the Dulins Grove Advent Christian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina has promoted the support of some special needs projects for the children at one of YJM’s ministry partners, the Helen Schache Memorial Silver Fern Hostel which is next door to the YJM compound at Guindy, Chennai. Fund raisers that have involved the whole church family have provided school supplies, vitamins, toiletry items and uniform shirts. Their latest gift to the children, which has arrived in time for Christmas is a pair of shoes and socks for each of the 100 plus children living at the hostel and some sports equipment (pictured below)
We are so grateful to the members of the Dulin’s Grove AC Church for their care and compassion and love for these children and for their generous gifts. The children at the Guindy hostel and in many of the other institutions which we partner with would not receive gifts of any kind, for any reason or occasion, if it was not for the blessing YJM is able to bring because of the generosity of God’s people. For the last few years, YJM has given a gift of a new outfit – a dress for the girls and a shirt and trousers for the boys – to all the children at the Guindy hostel and in the week before Christmas they will again get the same gift, along with a special meal. With the shirts they received recently from the Dulin’s Grove church and the shoes just given, they will be well outfitted for the year that lies ahead!
Thank you very much to all who give so generously to allow us to bring smiles to the faces of so many children in India. Please pray especially for the Hostel Warden Nelson and his wife Stella who do a tremendous job of caring for and encouraging the children and teaching them spiritually, at significant personal cost and sacrifice. Pray also for those who help them with various duties such as cooking and cleaning.
Christian Mission Naratchakwai also works with a large number of children, those who come to attend the activities at their compound; those with whom they make contact as they teach English in various elementary and high schools, and those in their village – Naratchakwai – and surrounding villages. In virtually all cases the children are from poor families and in the case of the children who attend the activities on Saturdays and Sundays, the children are given a good, wholesome meal on each occasion they attend.
John has advised that as has been the case for the last two or three years, they have been promised Christmas boxes from the Samaritan’s Purse organisation. They have been promised 120 boxes this year and will distribute them to children in their village and nearby villages who have not had a box before.They go every year to a small slum village to which they minister regularly and give gifts to the approximately 20 children who live there – they will do the same this year. A picture of Maeo distributing gifts there last year is at right. They have been advised that because of shipping delays the boxes might not reach them in time for Christmas but should be there in time for Children’s Day which is celebrated in Thailand on the second Saturday in January.
CMN will be having their normal Christmas celebration on December 22 and as usual there will be much fun and good food for all who attend. They will be having their major celebration on December 31 with praying out the old year and praying in the New Year. They start at about 6 pm with dinner, then have singing and games, a short sermon, a gift exchange, and gifts to the kids. Then a time of prayer from about 11:45 until 12:15, then rice soup and everyone goes home. This will be their 10th year for this celebration and having had the privilege of being present for two of these celebrations I know that there will be much fun and joy and reflection on this occasion.
To move off the Christmas theme for a moment I want to again say thank you to those who have been praying for John and Maeo’s friends and colleagues Pastor Boonta, his wife Phon and their handicapped daughter Bow. I visited John and Maeo in November and had the privilege of visiting and spending time with this godly family. Please thank the Lord for the progress – slow progress but progress nevertheless – that Phon is making after her hospitalisation with parasites in her brain. She is home and is having regular physiotherapy for paralysis of the left side of her face, and has only about 50% sight and hearing, but all are improving. She is able to move about without aids but gets tired very quickly.
Praise the Lord for her very strong faith and her belief that God will bring more healing – please pray to that end for her.
While I was visiting, Phon asked John to translate her testimony and her message of thanks to all those who had prayed and supported them during the worst time of her illness. Her testimony to the Lord’s presence and peace in her heart regardless of what was happening to her body, and to the fact that she never doubted that she was in the will and hands and care of her God brought tears to my eyes and I will long remember being able to hug this brave lady as brother and sister in the same faithful Lord! There is still a long way to go for Phon, and Pastor Boonta is presently under significant physical and spiritual pressure. Please pray especially for him that he may receive strength from the Lord to carry on.
Although there will undoubtedly be much celebration of Christ’s birth in Advent Christian and other churches throughout the Philippines, the celebrations, particularly in the central areas of the country, will be affected by the ongoing effects of Typhoon Haiyan which struck the Visayas on 7 November, just a short time after the area had experienced severe earthquakes mentioned in my last update. The islands worst affected were Leyte and Cebu and recent reports from news organisation indicate that more than 6,000 people were killed and more than 11 million people are affected by the devastation that the typhoon left in its wake. Many hundreds of thousands are homeless.
Three Advent Christian churches were badly damaged by the typhoon and many homes of members of these churches were damaged or destroyed. The churches are…
- Living Hope Christian Fellowship – Kawit, Medellin, Cebu
- Anislagon Advent Christian Church – Anislagon, San Francisco, Southern Leyte
- Marayag Advent Christian Church – Marayag, San Francisco, Southern Leyte
The pictures below were taken by BPACCI President Efren Miranda as he visited the areas involved. He asks for prayer …
- For our AC members who are displaced after the high winds destroyed their homes.
- For those in the Philippines who are in need of food, shelter, and clean drinking water.
- For the Living Hope Christian Fellowship Church in Kawit, Cebu, which has been damaged – that its members will find a place to worship and will be able to rebuild their facility.
- For those who will be conducting counselling and stress-debriefing in Kawit next week (17 to 21 December). Pray for opportunities to share the gospel through this time.
The Advent Christian Conference of New Zealand has forwarded NZ$500 to BPACCI to be used to assist the three churches mentioned above and for relief to their members and assistance with rebuilding homes and churches and ACGC has also sent funds towards the same ends.
If anyone feels the LORD’s leading to contribute further to what will be massive relief and rebuild projects for the three Advent Christian churches and their members, please send your gifts to our treasurer Mrs Glenise Burge – (ACMissioNZ PO Box 202162 Southgate Post Centre Manukau Auckland 2246) marked “Philippine typhoon assistance” and they will be promptly forwarded to and administered by the Philippine Advent Christian Conference.
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. May you know the joy of the Lord at this Christmas season.