Greetings to our friends, supporters and prayer partners and welcome to our third update for 2023. 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 some of our brothers and sisters in the Lord are continuing to faithfully share the Gospel with their people and how the Holy Spirit is blessing their efforts. 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 in all these countries.
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.
You may have noticed in international news recently, that Christian ministry is again coming under significant pressure from those in India who wish their country to be a “Hindu country”. We received a communication recently from a Christian brother, who is not part of the Advent Christian ministry, which read as follows…
“Pray for the country of India, we need your strong prayers right now, because there are many anarchic forces in our country who are hindering the gospel of God, burning houses, killing God's children, having no pity for women, disguising them as human demons and paraded naked, plotting against Christians and their trusted Jesus Christ. They are expecting all of us, the main reason for this happening anyway, political parties are trying to make us CM and PM, So they are creating terrible unrest by inciting castes and religions to fulfill their desires, because of which many Hindus are attacking Christians, I believe you have clarified this through India TV channels, so please pray for this situation, now I am 60 years old, I have never seen such a situation in my life. Be it Hindu, Christian or Muslim, all were brothers and sisters, normally there were no quarrels between us, but in the middle of this period, some people are creating quarrels between castes and religions in order to take over the state power in India. For example, many pastors and believers are suffering from these conflicts. Recently, they tried to intercept our gospel invasion and abused us a lot, but we were not afraid of them. We earnestly prayed to our heavenly Father for a change of heart, they detained us in the sun for about 4 hours, but surprisingly God miraculously released us from their bonds through their man, so I hope you will pray with us that God will save us from this situation even in India.”
Please pray for all Christian ministry in India and for all who serve our Lord in sincerity and truth, that they will be kept safe and that in the power of God’s Holy Spirit, there may be a great harvest of souls from the darkness that there is there at present.
Pastor Paul D. Ebenezer, pastor of the Fellowship of Blessed Hope Church in Madurai, in southern Tamil Nadu, has sent details of a ministry that he is involved with which brings fellow pastors from villages surrounding his city together at his church for fellowship and in-service training.
Pastor Paul is a part-time lecturer at Truth University, situated in Bengaluru (Bangalore) in Karnataka State, and is the Madurai co-ordinator for the university. He advises that “Madurai village ministers” gather at his church monthly for “fellowship and sharing the Word of God” and on another day each month the Truth University sends a teacher, who along with him, gives “gospel training towards a Bachelor of Ministry degree.”
Madurai is a Hindu “temple city” with eight temples situated there. The Meeenakshi Temple is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. It is the physical centre of the city and covers 65,000 square metres. Christian ministry is not easy in Madurai.
Please pray for Pastor Paul D. Ebenezer and his fellow teachers, and for those who gather, keen to improve their ability to share the Gospel with their people.
THAILAND | CHRISTIAN MISSION NARATCHAKWAI
Please continue to pray for the members of the group (shown in the picture with Russell and Pohn Yoon, and without Lita) as they continue to fellowship, sometimes online, including Bee, a member of the group some years ago who now lives in Bangkok, and sometimes in person as they attend the services at Phra Siri (Glory Way) Church in Nakhon Phanom city.
Please pray that the members of the group will be regular in their worshipping at the church – to receive the blessing and encouragement that comes with meeting and fellowshipping with other Christians.
Pastor Thawil from the Phra Siri church has encouraged the group members to register for a Bible Camp, to be held over a holiday weekend - 13 to 15 October - in Khon Kaen, which is about 4.5 hours’ drive to the southwest from Nakhon Phanom. Ploy has advised that all the members of the group – Maeo, Bee, Ploy, Parn, Lita, Job, Guitar, Gung Ging and Pea – have agreed to attend and they have also asked Pastor Boontaa and Phon if they would like to attend.
Please pray that this will be a very special time together as they fellowship with many other Christians and are encouraged and built up in their faith.
Please pray for Boontaa (previously pastor and teacher and handyman at Christian Mission Naratchakwai) and his wife Phon, who are mourning the death of their 34 years old daughter Bow, who died, after a long, difficult stay in hospital, on the 30th of June. Since her funeral on the 3rd of July, they have been busy completing the memorial over the grave and have also been very busy visiting the sick and the elderly and needy in various areas, taking goods to encourage them and, as Boontaa is very capable practically, assisting many with repairs and maintenance and “odd jobs”.
Deep down they are grieving the loss of their loved one, who they lovingly cared for for thirty-four years – as Bow was severely physically handicapped, they literally did everything for her.
They miss her greatly and are very, very sad.
When I messaged Sister Phon asking for a picture, she replied that she would send one, “...but I still can’t smile.” Please pray that the Lord will comfort them and surround them with His love at this difficult time.
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.
We have not heard from Sister Ruth recently but in her last 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.
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 states…
“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 states…
“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 the pressures of these persecutions, the leaders of the ACCM continue their ministries, and have been busy in the past months. Pastor K, the leader of Gospel for Myanmar, a member organisation of the ACCM, and President of the ACCM, has sent details of their recent activities and plans for the future.
He reminds us that his organisation is caring for a total of 36 orphans - children and young people. He and his wife are caring for 17, two of whom, a boy and a girl, are attending a Bible School, and a past graduate of their own Bible School - Salem Theological School - Mrs M, is caring for 19 children in another part of the country (picture at right below).
Please continue to pray for all four of the organisations which are members of the ACCM, as between them they are caring for a total of 289 children and young people. Apart from the loving physical and practical day-to-day care that they provide for these children, the cost of educating them all through to secondary level and sometimes tertiary level is significant – school fees, uniforms, equipment, and stationery etc. If you would like to assist with these costs, we can get funds to them quite easily at the moment.
Pastor K’s Salem Theological School has six students from other parts of the country studying at present. Each year, in October the students travel to another town or city for about a week to get practical experience in sharing their faith and the Gospel with those they meet on the streets or while travelling – this year they are travelling a day’s journey to Bago. Pastor K asks us to pray that the Lord will provide the funds for travel, accommodation etc. for this trip – he estimates the cost will be about one million Myanmar kyats which is about NZ$820.
He also asks that we pray, with him, for the Lord’s leading, guidance and provision for them to build a new building on land which they already own, to serve as a church and a place for their orphan children to live. They are praying that they will be able to start this in the coming Myanmar summer as the building they are presently living in and operating from is a rented building and the rental is very high – so high in fact that they have not been able to pay for six months’ rent which was due to be paid at the end of June.
Please pray regularly for all our Christian brothers and sisters in Myanmar who are suffering for their faith in many ways, including being driven out of their homes into Internally Displaced People’s (IDPs) camps or into the jungle to live!
Thank the Lord for people like the ACCM pastors who are doing what they and their congregation members can to assist those who are so disadvantaged.
Pray that the Lord may bring an end to the activities of the ruling military regime in their country.
PHILIPPINES |Advent Christian Movement | Manila
Please pray for Oro Bible College in Cagayan de Oro, which commenced the first semester of the new academic year this month with 20 students.
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…
“Dear friends at ACMissioNZ,
Our God is an Awesome God!
I thank the Lord for my 50th birthday! My birthday was on the 5th of July but celebrated on Sunday July 9th, to go with the Cell Group Anniversary celebration and so that everybody or most of my church members can participate. It was a great and meaningful celebration with the theme 'Awesome God' for He has done great things and we are filled with Joy (Psalm 126:3).
For my 50 years, I can say indeed the Lord has done great things! As I looked back all the years the Lord has given, I was led to reflect on how I started and where I started my ministry. With that, I challenged my church members to help me raise funds (instead of giving me gifts) that I can use to visit the churches (at least 5 churches) where I had the opportunity to minister and or pioneered the work.
With all the gifts I received I used it to host feeding programs for the children. It was a great joy for me to see children enjoy learning God's word and enjoying the food.
It was indeed a meaningful birthday celebration!
So, really thank the Lord!
All glory to Him!”
“We held a Kids Camp from July 10-12, 2023. It was a successful ministry for the kids.”
“I, together with Llerma, my daughter, and two of my church members, attended the PACCI (Philippines Advent Christian Conference Inc) Annual Conference held at Janopolan, Claveria, Misamis Oriental, last July 25-27, 2023. It was participated by 200+ pastors and Christian workers.”
While he was on the island of Mindanao in Claveria, for the PACCI conference, Roy took the opportunity to visit the churches he mentioned earlier and arranged the feeding programs for the children at the churches he visited and ministered at. He continued the description of his travels…
“These children are from Sabangaan, San Luis Malitbog, Bukidnon. It is a ministry outreach of our church in Santa Ana, Tagoloan. 70 children came. After the Bible lessons was the feeding for the children. The children’s session was followed by Bible study among the parents of the children.”
“Sabangaan, San Luis. Malitbog is a remote area and is under military control due to the presence of NPA. We travelled 2 hours from Sta. Ana Church - 'Maranatha Bible Church-Sta. Ana - where I spent my 10 years of ministry as assistant and outreach pastor. It is also the home church of Llerma my wife.”
“I also visited Tabuk, Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental (the place of the Marquino and Zambas families) It is also a ministry outreach of Maranatha Bible Church- Natumulan Tagoloan - my home church.”
“I also had the privilege to speak at the Thanksgiving Day celebration of HOPE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY CHURCH, Damilag, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon (known as Damilag Advent Christian Church). It is an outreach church of Maranatha Bible Church - Tagoloan. Here, I helped plant this church and later pastored while I was still studying at Oro Bible College way back in 1994-2001. The church is now growing and is pastored by my cousin also an OBC graduate.”
- May I always be filled with God's grace, guidance, strength, wisdom as I lead the church.
- Our preparation for the upcoming 14th Anniversary of our church this coming September 24, 2023.
That we have a good weather.
- Provisions for our church building project. A mezzanine bodega (= storeroom) to put our church musical instruments and other stuff in preparation for rainy season.”
(The mezzanine storeroom is because the church building regularly floods during the rainy season, so that their equipment does not get wet– Ernie)
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, power 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,