Greetings to our friends, supporters and prayer partners and welcome to the first update for 2023. My apologies for the delay in publishing this update and my thanks for your continued prayers, support and encouragement for those who serve the Lord under the Advent Christian banner in Southeast Asia - in India, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, and the Philippines.
Thank you especially for praying – God continues to answer your prayers in wonderful ways and those we support are continuing to do all they are able to do in ministry and are continuing to touch lives for the Lord Jesus Christ. This update will give examples of how our brothers and sisters in the Lord are continuing to faithfully share the Gospel with their people and how the Holy Spirit is bringing success to their efforts.
Although the day-to-day restrictions and difficulties caused by Covid-19 have substantially diminished in many cases, and ministries are getting back to what is perhaps a new “normal”, the stresses that the pandemic brought, particularly financially, on churches, pastors and pastoras and their families and many of the member families, remain and some may remain pressures of one kind or another for a considerable time. Financial hardships will remain, particularly for those who had to borrow to keep food on the table and pay the electricity bills etc. - catch-up will take time and in some cases quite a long time!
Many of our pastors and their families, and the churches, and the families of their members still face significant financial hardship. Please continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ – those who are part of AC ministries and in fact all who honour and serve our Lord in sincerity and truth.
INDIA | Yesuway Jeevan Mission
Please continue to pray for YJM Manager Dr. Ehzil Christadoss,
asking the Lord to give him great wisdom and patience as he has the responsibility for the leadership of YJM, and for co-ordinating their involvement with the Advent Christian Conference of India, the Fellowship of Blessed Hope Churches and YJM’s own ministry partners.
Pray too for the mission staff and their families on the compound at Guindy.
Those standing in the picture are, from left: Rose Mary (Rajan’s wife) who has served for 25 years, Rajan who has served for 25 years, Daniel, who has served for 39 years, Deveraj who has served for 17 years, Paulraj who has served for 16 years, Joseph who has served for 59 years, and Prema (Joseph’s daughter) who has served for 22 years. Brother Ezhil Christadoss is seated at the desk.
God continues to bless the ministries of the churches of the Blessed Hope Fellowship…
Pastor T. Daniel, pastor of the Periyakulam Church in the south of Tamil Nadu, had the pleasure and the joy of baptising 12 new believers on 14th March.
The baptismal candidates and their families enjoyed a picnic meal beside the river after the ceremony. Please praise the Lord for these twelve new members of God’s great, worldwide family, and pray that they may grow in grace and in the knowledge of their Saviour as they walk the pathway of life as members of the Periyakulam church.
A new church, with a new pastor, in a new area was dedicated on 24th of February.
The church is in the village of Kurinji Nagar in Agaramthen area in Chengalput district which is a neighbouring district to Chennai
The church was dedicated by Rev. A. Jerald, the President of the Fellowship of Blessed Hope Churches, and was officially declared open with the cutting of the ribbon by Rev. Jerald and Bro. Ezhil Christadoss, Mission Manager of the Yesuway Jeevan Mission.
The guests were welcomed by the pastor, Pastor Magesh Macrios (speaking into the microphone in the picture at left above) and there was a good number of believers present to share in the happy occasion.
Please thank and praise the Lord for this new place of Christian fellowship and ask the Lord to bless the witness of the church and its ministries and members.
YJM’s ministry partner Adda Road Advent Christian Church in Andhra Pradesh State continues its enthusiastic outreach within the area around their church.
They held another of their monthly Healing and Deliverance meetings at Calvary Healing Mountain on Friday 10 February and as always, it was very well attended.
On Monday 13 February, they sent details and pictures of their visit the night before to a remote village called Nallolapalli to present the Gospel with films. They indicated that this visit had resulted in an invitation from another, nearby village - Gollapalli– to visit them.
On the 14th of February, Pastor Paul Gantham was asked to deliver a funeral sermon in a village called 10th Mile. The villagers invited him to share the message and to give blessings to their families.
In mid-February, because of generous gifts from donors, we were able to send the Adda Road Church sufficient funds to enable them to buy a portable petrol-driven generator to use when visiting rural villages to provide reliable power for showing Christian films.
With their usual enthusiasm, the pastors arranged a special event to celebrate its purchase. Pastor Victor Abraham wrote…
“On 26 February we have invited a special guest for the New Generator Inauguration. He is also a Christian true believer of Christ Mr. Obulesh Garu (District Revenue Officer). He inaugurated and we dedicated for Lord's Service. The Church overjoyed and thrilled have genset for the ministry to rapidly reach out the Gospel.”
(The District Revenue Officer’s position is a very senior and influential government post in India)
On the 28th they put the new equipment to good use – they visited the village called Gollapalli and presented four Gospel films on one of the village’s streets – “How to Lead our Children's Spiritually”,
“How to Change Drunkard Husband to Christ,” “Are we Sunday Christians or Really Dedicated Christians?” and “Passion of Christ” (Jesus Crucifixion Movie).
Please continue to pray for Pastors Paul Gantham and Victor Abraham and their team as they reach out from Adda Road to share the Gospel with people in many villages around their church and in their monthly meetings on Calvary Healing Mount.
In early March we were able, because of donor’s gifts and a grant from another Christian trust, to send a significant amount to one of Yesuway Jeevan Mission's ministry partners - Emmanuel's School and Children's Home, in Chandel in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur. It is run by a lovely Christian lady and her brother - Roselle and Monsang. Their buildings are very old and dilapidated, and they have been told by the local authorities that they cannot re-open after their long shut-down because of Covid, until the existing buildings are improved, and new buildings constructed, and proper toilet facilities are provided.
The amount we sent will enable them to complete and refurbish two half-completed (several years ago) rooms with tiles, painting etc., and to complete a further room in the same unfinished building.
They are keeping us informed about progress…
A significant amount more is needed to complete the refurbishment of the entire school - please pray that the Lord will raise up other donors so that the school can completely reopen and continue its Christian witness to its students and their families.
THAILAND | CHRISTIAN MISSION NARATCHAKWAI
It is with great sadness that I have to report that Christian Mission held its final service on Sunday, February 26th.
Maeo’s health is still not good – please continue to pray for her – and she indicated to the young ladies of the leadership group early in the New Year that she felt the need for her and her family to move from Naratchakwai Village (which is about 8 km from the city) into Nakhon Phanom city to be near medical facilities and to have responsibility for a smaller property. She indicated that she planned for this to happen at the end of 2023 and asked the young ladies to plan accordingly for the sale of the property at that time.
However, during the last few days of January, Maeo received a letter from Advent Christian General Conference’s Director of International Missions advising that the financial support that they had been receiving from ACGC since the death of Dr John Middlewood in late 2014 would no longer be available to Christian Mission Naratchakwai, and that the final remittance would be sent on 10th February. The letter indicated that this decision had been taken because they did not have answers to four questions which concerned them – these matters were listed but had never been communicated to or discussed with Maeo or the members of the leadership team – and they were concerned that the monthly funds they were sending may not be being used appropriately. (Maeo does not speak or read English and relies on Ploy and Parn to translate for her.)
Maeo and the girls were, of course, shocked by the contents of the letter and by the fact that the matters had not been discussed with them before this decision had been made and actioned and were deeply saddened by the fact that they were not trusted any longer by ACGC. Maeo consulted with the leadership team, indicating that without the regular support, the ministry could not continue, and the decision was taken to close the ministry at the end of February and Maeo would bring forward her plans to sell the property and move into the city.
On Monday, 27 February, the girls at Christian Mission put the following up on their website, with pictures of their last Sunday service and the meal afterwards…
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
May God be with you until we meet again. ”
As has been their custom, after the service on Sunday they enjoyed a meal together.
During the weekend of 12-13 March, the leadership team members and five paid helpers sorted through the contents of the church and classrooms and kitchen areas of the complex with a view to getting it clear and ready for sale. They hired two vehicles to deliver the goods to various places.
They donated a significant amount of furniture, equipment, and kitchen supplies to the Kudsakoi and Kusuman churches – fellow members of the Christ For All People Church Association. Books, toys, and school supplies were donated to the schools at which Ploy and Parn are working; some small electrical equipment items were sold to church members at cheap prices; and the laptop computer, printer and office supplies will be kept at one of the leadership team member’s home so that it is available to be used by the three members of that group who are still studying at university.
They selected about 40% of the church’s furniture and equipment – musical and sound equipment, projector, Bibles and Christian story books, furniture and kitchen equipment (including the big pot used to cook Soup of Love food) – sufficient to outfit a new church if and when that can be achieved. These will be stored in a specially built room at the home of the mother of one of the earlier “Mission Girls” – Bee - who kindly agreed to take care of it until it is needed.
They worked very hard until the buildings looked like this!
The members of what has been the CMN Leadership Group, after considerable discussion, have resigned the church’s membership from the Christ For All People Church Association as they feel that at this stage anyway they cannot call themselves a church. If sometime in the future they are able to find a new place to run the church, they can re-join the association at any time. In the meantime, they intend to continue to fellowship together and where possible continue some of the ministries in their village and surrounding ones that they have carried out in the past. They will call themselves the Christian Mission Naratchakwai Group – Thai law will not allow them to publicly call themselves a church or teach the Bible in public without a licence or affiliation to a licensed organisation – which the Christ For All People Church Association is. They are praying that one day they can open a church again in the same area, where people will remember Dr. John Middlewood and Maeo and the Christian Mission and where many children, including many of the group themselves, have grown up and participated in its activities, and hopefully be able to look back to rebuilding what they had built together.
Ploy wrote… ”Boontaa had a talk with us about finding a spiritual friend who shares your commitment to God and to challenge and encourage each other and join in fellowship in a cell group. He wants to go to visit our brothers and sisters in Christ in Ban Na Lao and Ponesawan village and the nearer villages. (Our members who always came to CMN every Sunday)”
We have also encouraged them to find places for regular Christian fellowship and they have decided that they will meet together on the first Saturday of each month on Zoom, for fellowship and prayer, and they held the first of these meetings on Saturday 1 April. The copy of the screenshot of the meeting they sent is not very clear but Pastor Boontaa and his family, and Maeo and Bee (who lives and works in Bangkok) were amongst those who gathered and chatted and prayed together. They stressed that they would still be praying for their brothers and sisters in Christ around the world using the weekly International Missions Prayer Network and they ask that we pray for them too as they seek to honour God and their Lord Jesus Christ as well as they are able.
The group took their Soup of Love to residents in their village on 10 April. Ploy wrote…
“We went to give Soup of Love on 10th April 2023. We cooked the soup at Bee's house and took it to give to people in Ban Naratchakwai. We are very happy that people still remember us and happy to get love from God from the soup.”
Please pray regularly for the members of the Christian Mission Naratchakwai Group as they seek to continue their ministry for the Lord, praying that He will lead them along the pathway that is His will for them personally and for their ministry in their village and surrounding villages. Pray for them by name…
Pastor Boontaa – and his wife Phon and their daughter Bow. He has already had requests to preach at other churches in the area and has already been using his considerable handyman skills to assist other churches with maintenance and repairs.
Ploy – working fulltime as an elementary school teacher.
Parn – working fulltime as an elementary school teacher.
Lita – working fulltime in a beauty clinic.
Job - studying fulltime at university.
Guitar – studying fulltime at university.
Gungging – studying fulltime at university.
Annie – is going abroad to China later in the year to study.
Pea (young man) – is studying in Grade 11 at a high school in Nakhon Phanom
MALAYSIA | Kluang Advent Christian Group
Please continue to pray for Sister Ruth and Brother Wilfred, their family and the members of their group as they faithfully continue their one-on-one ministries of friendship, practical assistance and counsel to friends, neighbours and other contacts.
In a recent email message, Ruth indicated that she and her family and the members of our group were fine. She advised that here are no Covid restrictions in Malaysia now, but they have to wear a mask in public places.
Ruth also mentioned that earlier in the year they had experienced what appeared from the pictures she sent to be rainfall and flooding very similar to that which Auckland and the North Island’s east coast received from the heavy rains at the end of January and later from Cyclone Gabrielle.
We were recently able to send some funds to assist their ministry, and Ruth replied, “The funds are indeed useful to our group here for ministry transport and flood relief for some of the victims of the recent floods.”
MYANMAR | Advent Christian Conference of Myanmar
The situation in Myanmar continues to worsen for the 4.4 million Christians in the country. Open Doors’ website recently stated…
“The persecution of Christians in Myanmar continues to worsen since the military took control in February 2021. Fighting has increased across the country and the Christian minority is bearing the brunt of these attacks. Churches have been attacked and destroyed. More Christians than ever have become internally displaced people or refugees, and are living in camps or churches without adequate food and healthcare.
The daily reality is that Christians do not enjoy the same rights and legal protection as the Buddhist majority. Christians are often victims of violent attacks conducted with impunity. Even in predominantly Christian states like Chin State and Kayah State, long-established churches have suffered attacks and Christian aid workers and pastors have been killed. Government forces attack Christian villages and churches, while Buddhist monasteries remain largely untouched.
Converts to Christianity also face threats, ridicule and physical beatings from their Buddhist, Muslim or tribal families, and are shunned from community life. Communities that aim to stay 'Buddhist only' make life for Christian families impossible by barring their access to community water resources.
Na Ta La schools aim to convert Christian children to Buddhism, which is an effective way of stopping Christianity from spreading to the next generation. The boys at these schools are raised to become Buddhist monks.”
The Voice of the Martyrs’ website recently stated…
“Christians have reported campaigns of forcible conversion to Buddhism, restrictions on church-building and religious organizing, forced labor conscription, and killings, torture, rape, abductions, and other acts of violence against Christians by the Burmese military.
“Military authorities in Chin State, Myanmar, announced on February 13th that Christians residing within areas governed under martial law will be forced to register with township administrators seven days in advance of attending any church services. No information about the form of punishment that will be administered to those failing to comply had been provided at that time.”
In spite of these pressures, the leaders of the ACCM continue their ministries, and have been busy in the past months. Pastor K, the president of the Conference, has sent details of several of his organisation’s ministries…
In late March -24th to 25th - they held a training camp for their ladies – held over two days with 19 attending. (Picture at right)
Then from April 12th to 16th, during the Buddhist festival known as Thingyan or Water Festival they held a five-day Salvation Camp.
This was held at two venues – their home base in Yangon and one of their major outreach sites in a village about an hour’s bus travel from Yangon. A total of between 40 and 50 attended these meetings, which were aimed at seeking revival for both individuals and their churches. (Pictures below)
Before their morning service on the Sunday following the Salvation Camp, Pastor K had the joy of baptising two ladies, from Buddhist backgrounds, as they followed their Lord through the waters of baptism.
Pastor K wrote… “They took membership at our church. We praise God for His great salvation for these two women added to His church.”
Please join with him in thanking the Lord for these two new members of the great, worldwide family of God and pray that they will grow in grace and the knowledge of their Saviour.
Pastor K asked that we continue to pray for his wife, E, who continues to have severe pain from a stone in her gallbladder. During time recently spent in hospital because of this she was also diagnosed with a fatty liver. He also asks us to pray for one of the orphan young people who they care for - the young man concerned (Picture at right) has TB and is being treated by a TB specialist doctor.
Please pray for quick and complete healing for both of these folk.
During the Thingyan Festival, Pastor D’s organisation held a week-long camp for some of the orphan children who they care for and for children from the community around their property. We were able to send him some funds to assist with the cost of the camp and he later wrote…
“Greetings and thanks for your helping for our childrens camp for one week. We finished well by the grace of God. Around 100 children were gathering together and learning many things from childrens camp.”
Please pray that the Holy Spirit may continue to work in the hearts and minds of the children who attended, asking that for some – for many – this event may have been the beginning of a walk with Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
Pastor T and his fellow workers have had a busy few months early in the year. There has been sadness for them as two of their workers have fallen asleep in the Lord, and there has been rejoicing as they have had the joy of officiating at three baptismal services as a total of nine new Christians have been baptised.
In mid-January one of the Advent Christian Church of Myanmar’s church planters – Pastor Peter K aged 60 – died, leaving his wife and four young children. Then in early February one of the longstanding leaders of Pastor T’s home church in Yangon died, aged 85.
Please pray for the families of these two brothers, as they mourn their loss of loved ones, and pray that the Lord will raise up dedicated leaders and workers to take their places in His ministry.
During February, Pastor T and one of his church planters - Pastor A T - baptised seven new Christians – some at Pastor T’s home church in Yangon and some at Pastor A T’s church in the Hlegu district a short distance from Yangon.
During the first week of March, Pastor T baptised a further two new Christians at his home church.
At the time of the first baptisms, Pastor T had indicated that there were 20 new Christians in his organisation to whom he wanted to give Bibles. We were able to send him sufficient funds to purchase about 65 Bibles and he and his church planters were able to distribute them to those who had just been baptised and to others in their congregations. The balance will be available for the other leaders of the ACCM as they are required.
As was the case with the other leaders of the ACCM, Pastor T‘s organisation used the period of the Buddhist Water Festival – Thingyan – to have a five-day course of training for new believers at the home church.
Please pray for the nine candidates who were baptised, and those who received Bibles, and those who attended the training course, asking the Lord that they might grow in grace and the knowledge of their Saviour and Lord.
PHILIPPINES |Advent Christian Movement | Manila
Please pray for Oro Bible College in Cagayan de Oro, which commenced the second semester of the academic year in January with 20 students. They were not able to get the necessary approvals from the city authorities to revert to full face-to-face classes for the second semester - this means that they will have 4 days per week face to face classes and two days on-line.
Please pray for its director, lecturers and staff and students. Please pray particularly for OBC's financial needs especially for salaries and benefits for the faculty and Staff and for building repairs.
Pastor Roy Rocha who leads New Life in Christ ministry in Novaliches, Manila, recently wrote as follows…
These are some of the photos of our youth retreat last April 5 and 6. It was to me a successful event taking advantage of the holy week holiday. It was dubbed "Walk the Talk" - putting faith into action.
I shared from the book of James. The youth responded well to the challenge. The event was also filled with fun and wonderful times of worship.
“Monday, April 10th, we had our team building activity. The whole leadership of the church met together for prayer and discussions of some of our plans in the ministry. It was a success...all glory to God!
“Thanks for all your prayers and concerns for us! We really appreciate the kind hearted people who keep praying and sending support to us.
Please continue to pray regularly for the leaders and members of all 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,