Greetings to our friends, supporters, and prayer partners, and welcome to this fourth 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 ministries and 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 still 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 23 June, there were 54,069 new cases reported throughout the country. That is greatly reduced from the figure of 348,421 we reported on 12 May but is obviously still very concerning.
For the entire country, there have been 30.1 million cases registered, with 392,000 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 seriously affected but new case numbers have decreased considerably – the state’s statistics as of Wednesday 23 June were a total number of cases recorded since the pandemic began as 2.44 million with a total of 31,746 deaths. On 23 June 6,596 new cases were recorded in the state with 410 of that number in Chennai, and 166 deaths with 24 of that number in Chennai. The Tamil Nadu State government has imposed a complete lockdown across the State until 28 June but with some respite given in certain restrictions. There are still 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, although much reduced, is still very high.
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.
ACGC’s International Missions Department 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 in Chennai continues to hamper him from being able to travel to Guindy – 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 signatories on 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. There is a deadline of 30 June to apply for this - Brother Christadoss is having difficulty locating a number of documents relating to the initial incorporation of the mission way back in the 1930s.
Will you please pray regularly 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.
Pastor Denny Moses has sent further pictures showing progress on the building project of the new school complex for St Xavier’s School in Khagaria, Bihar State. The project is progressing well, and the pictures show preparation for pouring the second storey floor on the top of the completed ground floor buildings. Once the floor is poured the second-floor classrooms will be constructed. Please continue to pray for this project – that funds will continue to be available so that the completion is not delayed. Pray too for safety for all those involved with the construction now that they are working on the upper level. May and June are the summer school vacation months in India, so no students are present at this time.
Pastor Victor Abraham at Adda Road Advent Christian Church recently sent the picture at left. He wrote…
“We are well and good by the grace of God and through your prayers.
Covid 19 cases are increasing in our village but no one was harmed. God’s mighty hand has protected us and delivered.”
He also asked us to pray for his wife Swapna, who is pregnant with their second child, which is due in October
THAILAND | CHRISTIAN MISSION NARATCHAKWAI
On Tuesday 22 June Thailand had 4,059 (1,983 on 12/5) new cases of Covid-19 and 35 deaths (324 on 12 May) and have had a total of 225,000 cases (93,794 as of 12 May) and 1,693 deaths (518 as of 12/5) since the pandemic began. Their figures have risen very sharply since our last update on 12 May.
In May, Ploy indicated that the church would be closed from 15 May and would reopen on June 6, but that opening was delayed, presumably by the upsurge of new cases, and they had their re-opening meeting on
Sunday 20 June. The numbers were down but it will probably take time for people to return, thinking that being cautious is probably a good plan at this time!
The CMN Facebook page said…
“The first Sunday of worshiping after lockdown for a few months. Thank you God that we have met each other again. During the lock down we met and prayed online.”
Please pray with the team at CMN, that folk will return to their Sunday services.
On Monday 21 June, the leaders of the seven churches of the Christ for All People Church Association held their regular fellowship and prayer meeting at the Mookdahan church, and CMN gave food packages to two needy members of that church.
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. The lockdown was previously planned to end on 15 June but was extended by the government until 28 June. On Tuesday 22 June they recorded 4,743 new cases and 77 deaths – the number of cases was very similar to the last time we reported on 12 May (4,765) but the deaths recorded at that date was 39 so there has been a substantial increase in the number of deaths. Since the pandemic began they have had 706,000 cases with 4,554 deaths - a significant increase on the figures of 453,000 and 1,761 on 12 May!
Because of the pandemic, Sister Ruth, Brother Wilfred, their family and the members of their small group of faithful, Advent Christian believers still cannot gather together weekly on Sundays for worship in Ruth and Wilfred’s home or in members’ homes for Bible study and communion during the week. They keep in touch with each other regularly in various ways.
We were recently able to send some funds to them, designated to be used for their group's ministry and/or to assist their group members personally if necessary in view of possible hardships caused by Covid-19, at the discretion of their leaders.
Please pray for Sister Ruth and Brother Wilfred and the members of their group as they faithfully continue, as much as 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. Many offices and some banks are now open but broadband and wireless data services are often suspended and this of course means that access to the internet is not possible for them at all times.
Information on an international organisation’s (Worldometer) website shows Myanmar, on 23 June, as having had a total of 149,927 cases (143,004 on 12 May) with 3,269 deaths (3,212 on 12 May), but there is virtually no detailed information since the beginning of February, when the army took control of the country, until early June. It is likely that these figures are not accurate.
Although it is not possible for the leaders of the ACCM to keep in contact with us regularly, we are able to be in contact with them more than we were able to earlier in the year and their comments often give cause for concern. We have recently been able to send some funds to each of the leaders.
Pastor T, president of the AC conference responded…
“We all 4 leaders, church planters, orphanages and all Advent people really thank to you and New Zealand supporters. Your support funds are very useful for our daily bread and ministries.
Today our country is facing deeply covid and civil war. We have two governments - military coup and democracy government. Many villagers are running here and there. Most of banks were closed so no money in the hand of our people. But every things price is going up day by day. Our future is very dark.”
Pastor D wrote,
“Please continue praying for us. We face a lot of problems for food.”
You may recall that six or seven years ago, at Pastor T’s request, we were able to assist Pastor P T, who ministered in a village high in the mountains, with funds for various items – including mosquito nets, and a motorcycle to be used for transporting sick villagers to hospital. Sadly, Pastor PT subsequently died, but Pastor T still keeps in close touch with the village. He sent the following pictures with the comment…
“I am sending to you some pictures of P T (RIP) villagers running to jungle to save from military coup last week.”
It is possible that they were fleeing because the army considers the village a “Christian village” and were taking action against it, as part of their aim to rid the country of ethnic minorities and followers of all faiths other than Buddhism.
Following receipt of our recent remittance to him, Pastor K sent the following pictures with the notation…
“There are some widows and very poor families in our church. Therefore I share rice, oil and onions with them.”
But in spite of the practical difficulties which they face, ministry goes on!
Pastor K also sent pictures of a gathering in one of their church planter’s home – Pastor H T, who lives in a village about two hours bus ride from Yangon – who has about 37 members in his house-church. He commented…
“They are our church members in O village. Pastor H T is teaching the word of God to them.”
And so that we get a picture of the “if it is not one thing, it’s another” life (my words not his!) that our brothers and sisters are presently experiencing in Myanmar, Pastor K sent pictures of their home/church/Bible College campus on 8 June, following the beginning of the rainy season!!
Please pray for the four leaders of the ACCM - Pastors T, K, J and D and for their 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 their families and members of the ACCM and the 304 orphans and underprivileged children who they presently 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.
PHILIPPINES |Advent Christian Movement | Manila
There is no national lockdown in the Philippines although there are lockdowns of varying severity in many cities, towns and provinces. There are very strict restrictions on movement and gatherings in force in Cagayan de Oro and surrounding areas of Mindanao.
To 22 June the Philippines has had 1.37 million cases of Covid since the beginning of the pandemic (1.12 million on 12 May) with 23,928 deaths (18,714 on 12 May). The figures show that the death rate is higher although the number of cases has reduced.
New Life in Christ Ministries | Advent Christian Movement | Manila
Pastor Roy Rocha wrote earlier this month…
“We are included at "NCR+bubble" (means National Capital Region +neighboring regions). It is under GCQ which I think equivalent to your level 1 lockdown restrictions. Cebu, Davao, and CDO is on higher lockdown restrictions compared to us due to increase of Covid cases. And because of lighter lockdown we were able to hold water baptism for 7 person's last Sunday, June 6, 2021. All of them had their own stories to tell as they shared to us in their testimony. But for me, one of the most significant stories among the 7 is the one lady who was a member of 'Iglesia Ni Christo (INC)' church. (The church is one of the fast-growing churches that denies the deity of Christ). To me, it is a victory because they (INC) are sort of persecuting us by spreading lies about us as a church.”
After their Sunday 13 June service, Roy wrote…
“Because I want every New Lifer to have an opportunity to worship our Lord, I decided to have 2 worship services. 1st service is at 6:00 am. Then, the 2nd is at 6:00 pm. It is our first time to hold services in this way. Praise God that people came.”
Please pray for Brother Roy, and the many other pastors and Christian workers in the Philippines and in all “our” countries who under significant pressures from Covid 19. As you pray please also pray for the members of the churches - under strict lock-down conditions life is exceedingly difficult for everyone, especially financially, with the general situation being “no work, no pay”.
Once again, my sincere thanks for your partnership in the Lord’s ministries in South-East Asia.
Thank you for your prayers and encouragement 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 – email@example.com - we can get funds to most places, except India at this time, 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,