Greetings to our friends, supporters and prayer partners, and welcome to this sixth update for 2020. Once again, my thanks for your support and encouragement in so many ways. Thank you especially for praying – God continues to answer your prayers in wonderful ways, and although the presence of Covid-19 continues to significantly affect their activities, we see the Advent Christian ministries in Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, India and the Philippines continuing to touch lives for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Sadly, many of the activities of the churches in the countries in Asia which we normally report on continue to be affected one way or another by their governments’ regulations, many of which involve lockdowns of the communities, and their ministries have been curtailed to a large extent for several months now. In many countries, many workers are paid on a daily basis and so because there is no work available during lockdowns, many families are suffering badly. Because churches are unable to meet, offerings are not being collected and pastors and other paid leaders are not receiving any income.
Pastor Joseph in Myanmar recently wrote…
“Every day people die in Yangon. Lockdown is till 31 October. We stay at home. Please pray for us. Thanks.”
Pastor Kenneth in Myanmar wrote, on receiving some funds designated to assist their pastors with their families’ needs…’”
“This time my family and all the workers are really in need of our daily food. God hears our prayer and answers through the donors. Words cannot express our gratitude. I shared to four of my workers and also I gave one bag of rice to each of five families in our church who are really in need.”
Pastor Roy in Manila wrote recently…
“Please pray against Covid in our barangay. Daily reports of positive cases are averaging 1,500 cases per day. ~ ~ Pray for our church members who are still recovering (work/income) from the effect of no work, no pay since the pandemic.”
Please make these situations and many others like them in all “our” countries a matter of regular prayer.
INDIA | YESUWAY JEEVAN MISSION
Covid 19 continues to have serious effects in India – on Tuesday 20 October, a newspaper headline stated “New Covid-19 cases dip below 5,000 for first time in 3 months” (that is per day!)
That same article advised the total of cases so far for the country to be 7.65 million, with 115,197 deaths. Tamil Nadu State, where most of the Advent Christian churches are situated, continues to be badly affected – the state’s statistics as at Sunday 25 October were a total number of cases recorded as 709,000 with a total of 10,924 deaths – there were 1,783 new cases that day with 31 deaths. Metro Chennai had 764 new cases on Sunday 25 October. A total of 195,672 cases have been reported in Chennai since the pandemic began, with 3,592 deaths.
But praise the Lord, it was raining that day bringing much needed water into the reservoirs!
We need to pray especially for India as although the track of the graph of new Covid cases daily has begun to move downwards, the numbers are still frightening.
I have written often of the leadership of my particularly good friend and brother in the Lord Immanuel, who, since 2001 has served his Lord with the American Advent Mission Society, now known in India as Yesuaway Jeevan Mission. In 2013, Immanuel was commissioned as a missionary with Advent Christian General Conference. His day-to-day work at the Guindy Compound involves church, bank and government administrative tasks that support our AC mission in India. He provides financial, logistical and ministry support for Indian missionaries and workers in five different Indian states. He is the liaison between the ACGC mission staff and the Indian ministry leaders, serving as interpreter and translator. He handles day-to-day legal and financial matters with the mission’s auditor and attorney to ensure that that Yesuway Jeevan Mission runs smoothly.
The picture of Immanuel and his late wife Rani was taken in Auckland in 2011 when they visited for a short holiday.
The following testimony was prepared by Immanuel, for Advent Christian General Conference’s “Christmas in October” project which each October asks the members of the AC churches throughout the United States to give financial gifts to the fund to allow them to send financial Christmas gifts to leaders, pastors and workers in the Advent Christian ministries throughout the world, as well as to retired missionaries who have served the Lord with them. With his permission I am pleased to share it with you and ask that you pray regularly for Immanuel as he carries out his duties.
“My dad was a Lutheran pastor and my mother was a teacher. As Dad was periodically transferred to different churches, most of my younger years were spent in the hostels. With a Bachelor of Commerce (B. Com.) degree in hand, I worked at the State Bank of India for 31 years. I enjoyed my job and served as assistant general secretary and vice president of the Employees Union. Banking and sports kept me busy.
I had little involvement in church, and no personal experience with Jesus. When I got married it was my wife, Rani, who guided me into the relationship with Jesus that changed my lifestyle. My wife, Margaret Arputha Rani, was a pious and wonderful lady. We have two daughters and a son – Jennifer, Jerry, and Judy. All are married and have blessed me with four grandchildren. Sadly, I lost my wife in 2019.
In 2001, after years of dedication to my job, I retired to spend time with my family. My church offered a house pastors’ course which I took to keep actively engaged. A few months later, Rani found an advertisement in an English Daily seeking a clerk position in a Christian organization – no mention of a name, only a phone number. Rani asked me to contact them. I half-heartedly agreed, to appease her. I spoke with missionaries Earl and Martha Wright and scheduled an interview – which I totally forgot about. After some weeks I got a call from Earl Wright. In the second interview, there were around 20 candidates, and a third interview with three candidates. In December, 2001, I was selected and joined American Advent Mission (AAM). Later, I understood 85 people attended the interview. When senior missionaries retired I was offered the position of office manager at the AAM Compound, and later the mission manager position.
In 2009, our missionaries left the India field; from that time, I have been coordinating the Advent Christian ministry in India, including the transition to the new entity, YJM. Known as AAM since 1880, the ministry was renamed YESUWAY JEEVAN MISSION (Jesus is Life Mission) to better reflect its purpose. I have since been commissioned as a missionary by International Missions Director Jeffrey Walsh. There have been many struggles with both of our Advent Christian conferences. Submitting annual returns and working with India government and banks is quite a challenge. This job requires versatile knowledge, and our Lord has so far guided me well and protected me on so many occasions. I have attended three ACGC Triennial Conventions; Rani was with me for two.
I thank the ACGC leaders for this kind of opportunity to serve the Mission and thereby serve the Lord. I am especially grateful for former Executive Director Ron Thomas, former Asia/Pacific Area Director Clio Thomas, former missionaries Earl and Martha Wright and former India Consultant Ernie Schache as well as the present leadership of ACGC for supporting and encouraging me during my career with the International Missions office.”
Please continue to thank the Lord that good progress is being made on completing some of the classrooms for the new St Xavier’s school complex in Khagaria since our last update – interior plastering work and other work is underway and continues. The school is now under significant pressure from the owner of the existing, rented school to vacate the property, so work has been concentrated on completing some of the rooms, rather than the entire project. They are completing sufficient classrooms and facilities at ground level (some of the classrooms will be on the first floor) so that they can move in as soon as possible while construction continues. We have recently been able to send some further funds to assist them in this regard.
Please pray that funds will be available as they are needed to enable the school to meet the owner’s requirements and meet the completion deadline placed on them by the education authorities.
Please pray especially for wisdom and patience for Pastor Paul Sundar Raj, the leader of the Outreach Team and Brother Sadhu Sundar Singh (right hand picture) who is Principal of the school, as they grapple with many difficult decisions and much pressure.
For many years – almost since the mission began its ministry over 130 years ago, funds sent from the United States and other countries including ours, have been received into what is known as an FCRA – Foreign Contributions Regulations Act – bank account. This is an approved account, which is registered with the government which may receive funds from other countries. Funds cannot be sent from overseas to any other bank accounts. In the last week of September, the Indian central government passed an amendment act in regard to FCRA bank accounts which virtually froze all existing accounts, and indicated that new accounts needed to be applied for at one of the government-owned banks (the State Bank of India’s Delhi branch), and set down new rules for the ways in which funds which subsequently come into the country through these accounts can be used. There is no guarantee that holders of existing accounts will be granted new accounts and the new rules will make it very difficult for our organisation and many other Christian organisations to continue with existing ministries. This is another step in the radical, Hindu nationalist government’s program to make life and ministry difficult for Christians and Christian organisations. The Home Affairs Department has subsequently advised that the existing accounts may be used until March 31, 2021 but the restrictions and rules in the latest act apply to funds coming into them.
YJM will of course apply for a new account and will be looking at how their activities can cope with the new rules.
Please pray for Immanuel, and the officers of the International Missions Department at ACGC’s Charlotte office as they grapple with what will be a very difficult, ongoing situation
THAILAND CHRISTIAN MISSION NARATCHAKWAI
Praise the Lord that since they restarted Sunday morning services and afternoon activities for the children and young people in early July after being shut down for a time because of Covid-19 regulations, the members of the leadership team have been encouraged and blessed by increasing numbers in their congregation, with new people or families coming almost every week! It is wonderful to see their Facebook pictures of the congregations each Sunday and particularly to see an increasing number of adults and older children filling the seats as they fellowship together, worship the Lord and learn of His love.
The congregation on Sunday 13 September
Please continue to pray for the team at Christian Mission – Rear row from left – Ploy, Pastor Boontaa, Dtee (driver), Maeo and Parn. Front row from left – Lita, Kaopun, Job, Guitar and GungGing. Pray especially for Ploy who leads the team of young ladies.
Thank the Lord for the time and effort they put into planning and supervising every aspect of the ministry, including the English lessons.
Ask the Lord to help the girls balance their service for Him with their studies at High School and University.
MALAYSIA | Kluang Advent Christian Group
Sister Ruth wrote in mid-September….
“PSALM 65: 11 You crown the year with goodness, And your paths drip with abundance.”
“A blessed afternoon to you from Malaysia. We thank you for your prayer and care for us here. We appreciate it very much. God is so good. During this challenging time, God’s strength has enabled us to keep going, and we praise Him for the answered prayers.
- A couple known to us underwent a very breaking situation. The wife was on the verge of divorce. She requested prayer for her and her husband. A few days later, she changed her mind on divorce. God is healing her and her children from emotional distance, rejection, helplessness, pain and affliction. God is revealing to them their own weaknesses, strongholds and the root of their problems, and helping them deal with it, breaking foundational demonic arrows from both sides of husband and wife. Please pray for them, for the healing of their marriage.
- After going through a dry season, we are now experiencing good rain. This is a blessing for the vegetable farmers here.
- Recently, one of our contact’s family went to celebrate the 90th birthday for their grandfather at a hill resort. Not long after they left the hill resort, a landslide had occurred along the road. We praise the Lord for making a way of escape for the family (15 of them), as they were returning home in three cars.
- We want to praise God for contacts and friends who are experiencing the hands of God in their lives, enabling them to overcome obstacles and challenges.
We thank you for standing and staying with us for the above answered prayers.
- Pray for this young man who is under the bondage of witchcraft power. We have visited and prayed for him. We encouraged him to stand on the Word of God for his own deliverance. He mentioned that he has found a difference within him after prayer. He needs permanent deliverance. Pray that God will awaken his spiritual senses and stir his inner man speedily for his recovery.
- Pray for this young lady who needs a permanent breakthrough from a cycle of failure over her life. We are reaching out to her in prayer. Pray that God will strengthen her to arise above her situation and circumstances. She must experience a supernatural turn-around in her present situation. Pray that God will strengthen her to deal with all the negatives in her personality and spirit, and overcome them by the Blood of the Lamb, and the anointing of God’s favor upon her life.
- Pray for my elder daughter Joanna and her husband Kenneth, and my younger daughter Jerusha as they are assisting us with our work here. They visit us from out-station on a regular basis.”
Please continue to pray for Sister Ruth, Brother Wilfred, their family and members of their small group of faithful, Advent Christian believers who have recently been unable to gather together weekly on Sundays for worship in Ruth and Wilfred’s home in Kluang or in members’ homes for Bible study and communion during the week. Christian ministry is not easy or without danger in Malaysia, but Ruth and Wilfred faithfully continue, where they can within the regulations, their one-on-one ministries of friendship, practical assistance and counsel to friends, neighbours and other contacts.
MYANMAR | Advent Christian Conference of Myanmar
Pastor Kenneth, leader of Gospel for Myanmar, advises that the whole of Yangon City is still under lockdown – at least until the end of October. This means that their clothing factory is still not operating, and they are missing
the funds that it generated. They have started fish-farming to raise funds for their ministries and the fish are growing – but he says that “they eat a lot…” and they are finding it difficult to find funds to feed them. All going well some will be ready to sell at the end of November.
Their residential Bible school – Salem Theological School – has continued to operate, but they have classes on only two days a week. The students, who are from many parts of Myanmar, are given many self-study assignments for the rest of the week. One of their students is suffering from TB and has returned home to recover – they are praying that he will recover in time to re-join when full classes begin again. Pastor Kenneth asks us to pray with them for his recovery
One of the orphan children they care for – Thar Boih – has been becoming progressively paralysed over the last two weeks and they are hoping that he will improve soon. He asks us to pray for this boy too
He thanks us for our prayers for his wife Eunice’s health – she suffers from gall stones. He wrote “Eunice’s health is improving by the grace of God and your prayer help” and asks us to please continue to pray for total healing.
He told of one of his church planters – Pastor Hla Thaung and his wife Za Za Oo who have three children – who has seen great blessing in his ministry in recent times in spite of Covid. Their mission field is Okshitgone village in the Yangon Division, about 2 hours’ bus ride from Yangon City. They have been ministering there since 2008 and are ministering in a place where all the villagers are very strong in their Buddhist faith. They have about 37 believers in their group which meets in their home, all of whom are from Buddhist backgrounds. In August/September he rejoiced at 13 new converts – 9 of them have been baptized and the remaining 4 are soon to be baptized.
Pastor Hla Thaung plans to start a branch worship service, when Covid allows, at a nearby place – Taikyi Town – where he has been nurturing a group of about 20 people.
Please pray for Pastor Hla Thaung and his family and their group of believers, asking God to continue to bless their ministry with further fruit for their labour.
Kenneth also wrote “Since after Covid-19 we can not have church worship service as well as no offerings and no tithes. Therefore, all our workers are very difficult for their daily food. They can not have outside regular work. Please continue praying for us.”
The same also applies of course to the other three leaders of the Advent Christian Conference of Myanmar – Pastors Timothy, Joseph and David and their workers and church planters and families – and indeed to pastors and workers in all of “our” countries. Please pray regularly for them all and for their believers.
PHILIPPINES |Advent Christian Movement | Manila
Pastor Roy Rocha wrote recently…
“Hello ACMNZ, God is good all the time!
1st, We, the New Life in Christ Ministries are so thankful to our ever-faithful God. We celebrated our 11th year anniversary on last Sunday of September. It was a one of a kind celebration as we all knew because of the global pandemic. Our theme was “Tough Times Don’t Last, God’s People do.” It was interesting that church members celebrated the anniversary at their homes. My heart as the pastor of this little church was so thrilled and amazed that I did not expect the members to actively and creatively prepare for the occasion, it was a successful one. So thankful to our God and to Him be the glory forever
Some of the decorated homes
2nd, Thanks for your prayers and support for the house project. It’s so amazing that we are in this house now safe. (pictured at right)
CONTINUING CHALLENGE: As for now, we are still on our usual online week ‘nights devotion and Sunday morning services. It’s been 8 months now that we have no physical gathering. We are still praying and contemplating on when are we going to our normal church services on Sundays – some churches are beginning to hold the services. In our case, we still have 64 active cases of Covid in our barangay.
- Please pray against COVID in barangay. Daily reports of positive cases are averaging to more than 1,500+cases/day. Based on what I saw and heard on tv reports.
- Pray for our church members who are still recovering (work/income) from the effect of no work, no pay since the pandemic. Church finances is still way down.
- Please pray for my daughter who is working. For protection. She is taking public transportation. I am SO MUCH WORRIED of her. She gets home at around 8:00 and sometimes 9:00 pm. Now that the govt. mandated that all work/establishments be operational, this means that public transport will be crowded. I am praying for a car to avoid my daughter from mass transport. And one that I can also use to go to ministry opportunities to be upgraded in seminars. It is so difficult commuting now. It is a need for us now. Time, things, and situation have greatly changed.
As you knew also that me and wife used to go to our MARKET PLACE ministry. For 10 long years we commute every Friday at 4 pm. Rush hour. Then, commute again and be home at around 9:00 pm. We are fortunate to have taxi or grab sometimes but most of the time we get to transfer from van to tricycle which is and was difficult.
- Please pray for Ptr. Richard’s Mother who is on chemotheraphy for breast cancer. Healing and financial. Ptr. Richard Pelin Jr. is a graduate of OBC and is my youth pastor but he is home for now. His father Richard Pelin Sr. is actively pastoring in Lagonglong Misamis Oriental where family of Zambas and Ragas are. (some of you are familiar of these family names)
Thank you all of you!
Advent Christian Movement Manila”
Once again, my sincere thanks for your partnership in the Lord’s ministries in South East Asia. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement to and financial support for our brothers and sisters in the LORD. Please continue to pray for the leaders and members of the Advent Christian ministries we support in India, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia and the Philippines – pray that they will know the leading, guiding and blessing of the Holy Spirit as they present the message of God’s love for their people and His plan of salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord.