Greetings to our friends, supporters and prayer partners, and once again my thanks for your support and encouragement in so many ways. As another New Year begins I again seek your prayer support for the workers in Advent Christian ministries in India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and the Philippines.
My New Year began with having the privilege of being able, in the first few days of January, to visit, with Jeff and Penny Vann, the team at Christian Mission Naratchakwai.
It was a pleasure, at what is the best time of the year as far as climate is concerned for those of us not used to higher Asian temperatures, to have plenty of time to fellowship with the leaders and members of the Mission including attending their Sunday morning service; to spend time with Maeo, Pastor Boontaa and Ploy and Parn discussing the year that had just passed and more importantly looking ahead to the plan for activities and ministries in 2016.
We spent most of the Friday we were there, in the air-conditioned comfort of the Mission’s office, with the kind assistance of Ms Dorothy Gerbrandt, a New Tribes Mission missionary who assisted us with translation, remembering how the Lord had led and blessed in the past year and discussing the opportunities to serve Him in the year ahead in ways that would bring blessing to the leaders and members of the congregation and also to those living in the area and villages around Naratchakwai.
The Leadership Team consisting of Maeo, Pastor Boontaa, Ploy, Parn and Lita, very ably assisted by five other capable young ladies, do a wonderful job of planning, preparing and carrying out a full program of activities and ministry, including the teaching of English to the children who attend the Sunday service and Sunday School.
Although the wider program of teaching English in schools and to groups of university students had to be curtailed following Brother John Middlewood’s death, the older members of the group mentioned above, who were well taught English by John and were also taught to teach English, continue to teach the children for two hours on Sunday afternoons, following the service and a meal together.
On the Sunday we were there, Penny did a great job of being the visiting teacher of English for the group. If the noise and laughter coming from the room was any indication, it was a very memorable lesson!
At the morning service, we also had the pleasure of handing out the monthly gifts of food parcels to two of the elderly residents of the village – another regular ministry which has the added benefit of bringing the recipients, where their health allows, to the service. On occasions when the recipients’ health does not allow attendance, the team delivers the food parcels to their homes.
We were also able to accompany the team on the Saturday as they delivered the Soup of Love to those who were needy or shut-in and less able to care for themselves. This ministry is very much appreciated by the recipients and suitable printed material is handed out to those who are visited, reminding them that it is the love of Jesus Christ which brings those who deliver the Soup of Love. The route taken for the month’s deliveries was specially chosen to include the home village of Ploy and Parn – Kham Pok – which is some distance from Naratchakwai. This gave us the opportunity and privilege of meeting Ploy’s and Parn’s parents and wider family, and of being able, as best we could because of langauge difficulties, of sharing our appreciation of their daughters and what they are doing for the Lord at CMN.
The Lord has blessed and continues to bless the activities and ministries at Christian Mission Naratchakwai. As with any ministry there are multiple critical factors which keep the activities and ministries of CMN going, not the least of which are of course the Lord’s power and grace and guidance.
Maeo’s commitment to allow her property and its wonderful facilities to be the centre of the ministry which she and John developed over many years is one of those factors.
Pastor Boontaa’s availability to teach and preach from God’s Word is another – without a Thai speaking teacher the ministry could not continue.
Ploy, Parn and Lita, with their abilities and commitment to use them to serve their Lord and their willingness to spend considerable time and effort in planning, preparing and carrying out the various activities and leading and encouraging the other five girls are also critical for the ongoing ministry. Also very important is their Christian witness to these five girls who have not yet committed their lives to Jesus Christ – Ploy regularly asks for prayer for their friends, that they too may take the step of commitment to their Saviour.
Finance is also a critical factor of course. The Lord has graciously provided the funds required to meet the costs of the 2016 budget or spending plan as Ploy and Parn like to call it, but there are other financial needs which need to be met in the future.
The laptop computer which the girls use for a wide variety of tasks, including communicating with me and putting posts on Facebook and preparation of many kinds of material for the ministries including slides for the data projector for hymns etc. for services is over 10 years old and is in the repair shop almost monthly. Their camera is in a similar state. Both are critical for the activities and need to be replaced.
The 12 seat vehicle that is used, and is driven by Maeo’s brother Dtee when it is so used, to pick up the children for church and Sunday School and to return them to their home is 16 years old and is feeling its age and will need replacing to avoid growing repair bills. They are not confident enough to use it for longer trips these days.
Ploy and Parn will begin University studies at the nearby Nakhon Phanom University later this year, both hoping to do an English Major. Both decided on this place of study so that they would be near to the Mission compound and thus be able to continue to play the critical part that they have played in the past in the leadership of CMN’s ministries. They are trusting the Lord to provide the necessary funds for their studies as their families cannot do so.
There is a young lady – Dtae – from one of the other churches of the Christ for All People Churches Association who will begin her third year at a Theological college later in the year, having heard her Lord’s call to full time service. She was formerly mentored by John and sponsored by CMN to a large extent. She too is trusting the Lord for funds to enable her to continue and complete her studies.
ACGC is actively looking for a lady or a married couple who are willing to go as missionaries to assist and help Maeo and her team develop the ministries at CMN. This person or these persons would need to learn the Isaan dialect of the Thai language before beginning full-time service at the mission. Funds to support this person or persons will also be required of course. Naratchakwai would be an ideal place to live and serve the Lord where the spiritual needs are great but the potential is enormous!
The needs in Thailand are great and so is our God! Will you please pray regularly for Christian Mission Naratchakwai, and for the above specific matters, asking the Lord to bless and use its ministries and people and provide their needs as He has so wonderfully done in the past? Many lives, mostly younger ones but also including many adults and many elderly folk, are touched by CMN’s ministries – God promised Isaiah that “… my word that goes out from my mouth; it will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” – and our prayers and support can make that a reality in Naratchakwai, Thailand.
Please continue to pray for the situation in respect to the bank account which the Mission has in Chennai, with the Standard Chartered Bank. This account has had for many, many years what is called a Foreign Currency Registration Act (FCRA) certificate which allows foreign currency to enter the country legally through the account. Without this certificate, approved by the Reserve Bank of India, remittances of foreign currency would not be allowed to proceed and would be returned to the senders. In an attempt to stop the flow of foreign funds to illegal/terrorist groups within the country, the India government, through the Reserve Bank has instigated very comprehensive checks on the holders of FCRA bank accounts to prove the bona fides of the account holders. To cut a long and complicated story very short, the fact that the Mission was registered as a foreign company back in 1924 as “Women’s Home and Foreign Mission Society of the Advent Christian Denomination” but sought and was given approval by the authorities to have its day to day activities operate under the name American Advent Mission (which is the name of the bank account) is causing the bank problems. They – the bank – have asked for a copy of the certificate of registration for the American Advent Mission and have told us that if this cannot be produced the account will be closed because it will not comply with the Reserve Bank’s requirements.
Immanuel and others have done exhaustive checks to find evidence of a registration of the AAM but have found nothing and therefore cannot produce the document which the bank requires, as it never existed, but have found and provided the bank with documentation from the authorities dated in the late 1920s which clearly set out their approval of the WH&FMS using the name AAM but the threat by the bank of closing the account has not been removed although the deadline has passed and the account is still open. To further complicate the situation, AAM had applied in mid-2015 to renew the FCRA registration and Immanuel has learned since Christmas that the government now requires all renewals to be done on-line, so he has had to start all over again. The bank is also telling us that if the FCRA renewal is not received by 15 March they “may be constrained to refuse operation of the said account”!!
Please pray, believing that the Lord wants the activities of the AAM to continue in India, that these matters can be attended to in a manner which satisfies the banks’ requirements, so that the account will remain open and the FCRA renewal will come to hand in time. Without the account operating and the ability to receive funds from overseas, the ministries of AAM/Yesuway Jeevan Mission will be severely curtailed.
Pastor B Balu Nayak, leader of one of Yesuway Jeevan Mission’s ministry partners in Andhra Pradesh State recently wrote about his group’s New Year celebrations. He wrote…
“Greetings to you all in the most precious Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.We celebrated on 31st December 2015 at the Baluthanda Advent Christian Church. Nearly 100 members were gathered for New Year celebrations.
By God’s grace and your prayer support our Advent Christian church is growing wonderfully year by year here in our tribal area.
In 2015 I have given baptism to 10 in our Baluthanda and Mahabubabad AC churches and also now a few people are ready to take baptism. I will give them baptism in March 2016.
Note these details:
Baluthanda A.C.C. Members – Male 30, Female 35 and Children 40
Mahabubabad A.C.C. Members – Male 28, Female 30, Children 25
Thank you for your kind regular financially support. We are praying for you and your family and ministries.
With Christian Love & Prayers.”
Please thank the Lord for the growth of his churches and pray for Rev Balu Nayak and the members of his group –they are ministering in what is a very difficult area, with significant opposition from Hindu believers.
We have not had much specific ministry information from our brothers in Myanmar since the end of last year, but I have been in contact with them concerning their workers/church planters. ACGC have decided to put details on their “Special Projects” list of the individuals and families who are serving throughout the country for the four organisations which make up the Advent Christian Conference of Myanmar. This list will make details available for those churches or individuals who would like to sponsor one of them and also of course will give some details for specific prayer.
There are a total of 20 workers/families throughout Myanmar – following are the details of one of them:
Advent Christian Conference of Myanmar
Gospel for Myanmar, led by Pastor Kenneth
Pastor Chit Lwin Oo and family
Pastor Chit Lwin Oo – born July 27 1985 (30 years old)
His wife Point Phyo – born March 1992 (23 years old)
Children: Wejan Chit (a boy) – born June 2013 (2 years old)
Peter Joy – (a boy) born November 2015 (2 months old)
Their mission field is Padan Town which is in the very large Magway Division to the north-west of Yangon. They are serving among very strong Ashio Buddhists, and have been in Padan Town since 2011. They have 17 converts in their church. They can survive on US$170 per month.
Please pray for this family and the other 19 who are serving the Lord in various parts of Myanmar. Please contact me or the World Outreach office in Charlotte should you require details of further ACCM workers/church planters.
Please remember to pray also for the 271 orphans and disadvantaged children who the four ACCM member organisations care for in various parts of the country.
Pray for compassion, wisdom and patience for those who care for them and for the provision of funds to meet all the needs of the children, including their education, which in many cases includes university study.
The picture at right shows some of the children Pastor Timothy and his family care for enjoying their Christmas celebrations just a few weeks ago.
Please continue to pray for the small group of faithful Advent Christian believers who gather weekly for worship in the home of Sister Ruth Devairakkam and Brother Wilfred in Kluang and who gather in members’ homes for Bible study and communion during the week.
Christian ministry is not easy in Malaysia, but they faithfully continue their one-on-one ministries of friendship, practical assistance and counsel to friends, neighbours and other contacts.
Once again, my grateful thanks for your partnership in the Lord’s ministries in South East Asia. On behalf of those who serve the Lord in South East Asia I thank you for your prayers and encouragement to and financial support for our brothers and sister in the LORD in the past and ask especially for your regular prayers for safety, for wisdom and for the power of the Holy Spirit to anoint their ministries.
God bless you as you serve Him in Missions by your prayers and support.