Greetings to our friends, supporters, and prayer partners, and welcome to this third update for 2021. Once again, my thanks for your support and encouragement in many ways.
Thank you especially for praying – God continues to answer your prayers in wonderful ways, and although Covid-19, with its lockdowns and restrictions and effects on day-to-day living and incomes, continues to significantly affect their activities, the Advent Christian ministries we support in Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, India and the Philippines are continuing to do all they are able to do and are continuing to touch lives for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Sadly, Covid-19 continues to have effects on most of the ministries that we support, in respect to their fellowship and meetings and other ministry activities, and for the members of their congregations. Unfortunately, there has been a resurgence in cases of the virus in most of the countries we support, although we have not heard very much about the situation in Myanmar as our contacts there tell us that they hear virtually nothing about the COVID situation in their country from the army which is in control at the moment. In some of our countries the level of cases in the community remains high and government restrictions, some of which include nationwide lockdowns, still prevent many members from working, and this causes severe economic hardship for families. This of course is reflected in offerings to the churches and many of our pastors and their families and the families of their members still face significant financial hardship.
INDIA | Yesuway Jeevan Mission
Covid-19 continues to have serious effects in India - on Wednesday 12 May, there were 348,421 new cases reported throughout the country. That is greatly increased from the figure of 109,793 we reported on 9 April and is obviously very concerning.
For the entire country there have been 23.34 million cases registered, with 254,197 deaths reported since the beginning of the pandemic. That places them at third place in the world for deaths behind the USA and Brazil. Some states of India are faring much worse than others.
Tamil Nadu State, where most of the Advent Christian churches are situated, still continues to be affected and new case numbers have increased considerably – the state’s statistics as of Wednesday 12 May were a total number of cases recorded as 1.438 million with a total of 16,178 deaths. On 12 May 29,272 new cases were recorded in the state with 7,564 of that number in Chennai. The Tamil Nadu State government has recently imposed a complete lockdown across the State until 24 May.
In recent days there have been many news reports quoting experts who claim that the official statistics for India are probably significantly understating the actual figures.
We need to continue to pray for India as the track of the graph of new Covid cases daily has risen dramatically in recent days and the numbers are frightening.
As we advised on our website on 21 April, it is with great sadness that we advise that Brother M. M. Immanuel, faithful servant of His Lord and Mission Manager for Yesuway Jeevan Mission at Guindy, Chennai, and Advent Christian General Conference of America’s National Missionary in India, fell asleep in Jesus Christ on 18 April following hospitalisation with COVID-19 on 31 March.
Please pray for his children – Jennifer, Judy and Jerry – and their families as they mourn the loss of their much-loved father, father-in-law and grandfather of four. Please also pray for the staff at the Guindy compound – they are missing “the boss”.
An obituary prepared by the Advent Christian General Conference of America (ACGC) can be found here.
Please also pray for the leadership at the International Missions Department of the Advent Christian General Conference in Charlotte, USA as they deliberate and make decisions concerning the future of the Mission and its ministries in India.
In accordance with a succession plan that had been in place for several years, looking ahead to the time of Immanuel’s retirement, ACGC’s International Missions Department has appointed Dr. Ehzil Christadoss to the position of Mission Manager and he has already visited Guindy on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, the current lockdown is hampering him being able to travel to Guindy at the moment – please pray for our brother, asking the Lord to give him great wisdom and patience as he takes over the responsibility for the leadership of YJM under very difficult circumstances. There are many matters to be attended to but perhaps the two most pressing matters are the necessary changes to the mission’s bank accounts, and the need to open a new foreign currency bank account, as mandated by the Indian government, to enable the mission to receive funds from overseas sources. The account which has been used in the past was closed, under government legislation, on 31 March 2021.
Will you please pray for our brother Christadoss as he seeks to deal with these two matters and many others?
Please pray regularly for Yesuway Jeevan Mission’s ministry partners who continue to serve the Lord so well in their particular areas of ministry. Many of them are involved with caring for, educating, and encouraging children, many of them orphans or disadvantaged. The effects of the Covid virus and particularly the lockdowns are making normal activities and ministry very difficult. Some of them, realising the extra needs that the Covid pandemic has brought to their communities, continue to use available funds to distribute food and clothing and encouragement to those in need – all in the Name of Jesus Christ.
Pray especially for their leaders and the members of their staff and congregations who assist with these ministries.
Before recent restrictions came into force, ministry partner Adda Road Advent Christian Church in Andhra Pradesh State, led by Pastors Paul Gantham and his son Victor Abraham, had reported that their congregation was returning to almost normal after their earlier lockdown. Those present at their two morning services on Sunday 2 May totalled 130 – they have had to split the congregation into two services to accommodate them. Please praise the Lord for that regrowth!
They also reported that on Easter Sunday and Sunday May 2, a total of four new members were baptised. Please rejoice with them for these four new Christian brothers and sisters and pray that they may grow in grace and the knowledge of their Saviour and will be good witnesses to their Lord in their homes and villages.
They were recently advised by the local government officer that cases were again rapidly increasing in their village and surrounding areas and they have been told that in an effort to eradicate the virus they are not permitted to hold services or other gatherings until the situation has normalised. Thus, there will be no further services until further notice is received from the government officials.
Please pray for the ministry of the Adda Road Advent Christian Church, for Pastors Paul Gantham and Victor Abraham and their families and for all the members of the church, praying especially that they will all be kept safe and well from the present upsurge of the COVID-19 virus in their country.
Pastor Denny Moses, writing on behalf of Pastor Paul Sundar Raj’s outreach team in Khagaria, Bihar wrote earlier this week as follows…
“This is the very urgent prayer request to you that we are facing tough time in India fighting with COVID -19. By the grace of God we are safe. Please continually pray for us in pandemic condition Our school St Xavier high school closed as per the order of Indian Government due to this reason we are facing financial need. Please kindly pray for us.”
He also sent this ministry report recently …
“Greetings to you all in the marvellous name of Jesus Christ.
As the verse says in Psalm 46:7, “The Lord Almighty is with us; The God of Jacob is our fortress”. The Lord Almighty is with us therefore, we have reached this far to worship the holy God of heaven and earth. The God of Jacob has protected us from all the disasters & diseases.
In Bihar, at Munger district there are a number of foreign missionaries’ graveyards. They are symbols to proclaim the love of godly people towards the kingdom of God and His work. Still the children (like you) of the unchanging God are there in various places around the world to serve the people for the sake of God’s love. We remember Nehemiah’s work, as he became a leader in the rebuilding of Jerusalem. You are here to replace the work of these missionaries, whose bodies are taking rest in the tombs of Bihar.
Through your prayers we have dedicated three churches for the glory of God on 13th, 14th and 21st of March 2021. And the school’s construction work is being continued. At the school a new Manager and a new Principal* were dedicated. Pray for their duties and the improvement of the school. Kindly pray for the CBSE X examinations. There are 107 students** to appear in the exam. We need a best result from God.
II Timothy 1:16 says “He often refreshed me” and of course, all your help and support refreshed us and motivated us in many folds. In each gospel related work of our ministries you have supported us. In our school’s education work you are helping us. May the blessings of our Father rest upon you and on your generation.
As per Acts 2:45, You have sold your property and possessions to give to the people who are in need, especially to these backward people and society of Bihar.
There are 45 new believers joined in our branch churches*** through baptism, 17 children were dedicated, 12 church board members are newly appointed to assist pastors in church activities, 74 non-Christian and Christian women received their Tailoring Course Completion Certificates in the church dedication events.
As Elijah blessed in I Kings 17:13, may God bless all of you for your generous help, which has been done even in the critical situation. The Lord of abundance bless you more and more.
Psalm 103:2 says “Praise the Lord, my soul and forget not all his benefits”. As per this verse, we feel that we are nothing, but we praise the Lord forever and ever for He is offering us such great souls from abroad to think of us and our ministry and school, to sustain us in all the ways of Lord’s ministry.
Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.”
*The new school principal is Mr. Santha Kumar, and the Manager is Mr Sahdu Sundar Singh. Please pray for both of these brothers.
**St Xavier’s High School had around 1,400 students before the Covid 19 pandemic, but that reduced to 900. They have now moved to their partially completed new school complex and currently have 500 students. Before the pandemic they had 32 teachers and 10 non-teaching staff – they currently have 14 teachers and 4 non-teaching staff at the new school, but these figures will increase again as the pandemic subsides and the complex is completed.
***The outreach in Bihar now has 15 churches. God willing, they plan to add a further 5 new churches during this year. At present they have Prayer Cells at these 5 locations but are planning to make them into churches. They have a total of 16 pastors at present and two further brothers are training.
THAILAND | CHRISTIAN MISSION NARATCHAKWAI
Unfortunately, because Thailand is also experiencing an upsurge in Covid 19 cases, on 15 April the Christian Mission’s
Facebook page had this notice…
Christian Mission Church will be closed on Sunday, April 18, 2564 to prevent the COVID-19 epidemic.
The church will reopen on Sunday, June 6, 2564
Schedule may change according to circumstances.”
Thailand had 1,983 new cases of Covid-19 and 34 deaths on Wednesday 12 May and have had a total of 93,794 cases and 518 deaths since the pandemic began.
But Maeo and the young ladies of the leadership team have not been idle while the church and schools are closed! They, together with Maeo’s brothers – Noi playing the guitar and Dtee playing the drums - have recorded some of the wonderful old hymns for your enjoyment. They sing them very sweetly in their own lovely, melodic language but they are easy to sing along to in English.
Noi and Dtee in the background.
From left: Guitar, GungGing, Ploy, Parn, Maeo and Job in the foreground
Why not take a few minutes to relax and listen to them sing these hymns, and sing along with them in worship to our Great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ?
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.
Please pray regularly for the ministry team at Christian Mission Naratchakwai, that the Lord will use their enthusiastic service for Him to bring many in their area to faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour. 22 million Isan people live in Northeast Thailand. The Isan region has the fewest missionaries in Thailand. Only four of every 1,000 Isan are Christians – the rest are Buddhists. They are an unreached people group, and Christian Mission and the other six churches of the Christ for All People Church Association are doing what they can, in the Lord’s strength, to reach out to them with the Gospel.
MALAYSIA | Kluang Advent Christian Group
Malaysia is currently under a national lockdown, following a third wave of Covid 19 cases. On Wednesday 12 May they recorded 4,765 new cases and 39 deaths. Since the pandemic began they have had 453,000 cases with 1,761 deaths.
Because of the pandemic, Sister Ruth, Brother Wilfred, their family and the members of their small group of faithful, Advent Christian believers have for some time now 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. They keep in touch with each other regularly in various ways.
Sister Ruth recently advised that using Zoom, they had participated in a Combined Tamil Churches Prayer Meeting. The picture shows Ruth and Wilfred at the Lutheran Church. They were invited to lead in worship and share the Word. Wilfred shared in Tamil from Psalm 91 and Ruth led in worship, to the accompaniment of piano music. The Prayer Meeting was bilingual, Tamil and English.
Please pray for Sister Ruth and Brother Wilfred and the members of their group as they faithfully continue, where they can within the Covid regulations, their one-on-one ministries of friendship, practical assistance and counsel to friends, neighbours and other contacts.
MYANMAR | Advent Christian Conference of Myanmar
ACCM leaders have indicated in the past that since the army took control of the country in February, they hear virtually nothing about the COVID-19 virus or the effects it is having in the country. Most offices and banks are still closed, broadband and wireless data services have been suspended and this of course means that access to the internet is not possible for them most of the time.
Information on an international organisation’s (Worldometer) website shows Myanmar as having had a total of 143,004 cases with 3,212 deaths, but there is virtually no detailed information since the beginning of February when the army took control of the country. It is likely that these figures are not up to date.
Although it is not possible for the leaders of the ACCM to keep in contact with us regularly, Pastor K was able to let us know that they had held their annual Salvation Camp at their church from 13 to 17 April There were about 40 people, including children, present for that time
He also sent a picture of a couple of the catfish which he and his group have been raising to sell to raise funds for their ministry costs. From the picture, it looks as if their raising has been very successful!!
Please pray for the country and its people, and especially for the Christians - Open Doors indicate that there are about 4.3 million Christians in the country, about 8% of the population. Pray especially for the leaders, families and members of the ACCM and the orphans and underprivileged children who they care for, in particular asking that they are able to provide sufficient food for the children Please pray for God’s miraculous intervention in the situation the country is in with the army in control.
There is no national lockdown in the Philippines although there is one in the capital Manila and surrounding provinces. There are very strict restrictions on movement and gatherings in force in Cagayan de Oro and surrounding areas of Mindanao.
The Philippines has had 1.12 million cases of Covid since the beginning of the pandemic with 18,714 deaths. The figures for 12 May, which show a steep downward trend after a peak at around 12 April, show 4,812 new cases for the day (7-day average of 6,401) with 94 deaths.
Advent Christian Movement | Manila
Pastor Roy Rocha wrote last week…
“I smell that Lockdown is going to be extended for another month.
3 days of work in a week cannot sustain a family. Some of my members’ small business are now closed for they cannot sustain it.
It bleeds my heart that Llerma needs to line up for 'Financial AID from govt'.
Most of my members are looking for 'community pantries' to line up in long lines under heat of summer to get kilo of rice/other stuff. It worries me every day that my daughter has to be on public transportation to work. I wish to be in CDO where it is more free there.
I am stuck for a year now. All I do in ministry is just like 'on maintenance' no movement. I felt tired of doing nothing.
I heard of report from my seminary that 70 pastors have lost lives due to Covid. I wish to be in CDO to be free!
I am more afraid of COVID now than last year! I need prayers.”
Please pray for Brother Roy, and the many other pastors and Christian workers in the Philippines and in all “our” countries who no doubt have similar thoughts and feelings from time to time. As you pray please also pray for the members of the churches - under strict lock-down conditions life is exceedingly difficult for everyone, with the general situation being “no work, no pay”.
Philippine Advent Christian Conference
The following news item appeared in ACGC’s E-News this week…
“Philippines AC Conference Celebrates 20 Baptisms and New Church
PHILIPPINES- Renalte Sabiahan, senior pastor of Maranatha Bible Church, Sta Ana, Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental held a seaside baptism service on April 24. Maranatha Bible Church is a one-hour drive from the head office of the Philippine Advent Christian Conference. Twenty people were baptized and welcomed to new life in Christ.
Building continues at Bangobangon, Patrocinio, Claveria; an outreach work of Tamboboan Advent Christian Church, Claveria, Misamis Oriental. The parsonage at the back is simultaneously being built, which is presently used as the worship venue. Funds have come from individual commitments, pledges from local churches belonging to the sub-district and contributions from generous donors. Recent funds were used for building materials. The roof is now half complete. Pastor Stephen Joey Macabinlar is still requesting for prayer for the completion of this project.”
Please thank the Lord for these positive signs in the PACCI churches and pray for the pastors, pastoras[ and members of the churches of the Philippine Advent Christian Conference – most of them are facing significant financial hardship because of Covid-19.
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. If you feel the Lord’s leading to help our brothers and sisters financially in any of our countries, please contact our treasurer – we can get funds to most places, albeit much more slowly than usual in some cases.
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.
In His love and service with you,