Rain pours down, as water rises. A large tropical storm Sinlaku hits southeast Asia, with more expected to follow. Much of the devastation is impacting Vietnam but the tail of the storm swept through Thailand at the end of July/early August. We sit inside, watching as the rain splashes our window like we were going through a car wash. Some of the water finds its way through tiny spaces where our window pane meets the edge of the wall. Mary watches the rain pummel our rice field, which had just been planted a couple days ago. Rice is able to withstand excess amounts of water for only a week before they all start to die. Boy! It must have been intense for Noah and his family (and the animals) on the ark… or even for the twelve disciples as they faced a storm while crossing the Sea of Galilee. What a tremendous force of nature; but even as scary and powerful a storm is, it falls flat against the mighty authority of Jesus Christ! There are so many storms in life and many challenges but praise God for His presence and deliverance.
|Our neighbors in the Shan community came to help us plant rice|
|The rice field turned into a pond after many days of rain|
Oh no! The emergency decree in Thailand has been extended to the end of August; therefore, many of our evangelistic and teaching trips have been rescheduled. However, during the month of July, Stephen and Mary made church visitations almost every weekend. They stayed in the mountain village and joined different church services where Stephen was invited to preach. What a true blessing to visit churches full of people worshiping God. Being with people is such a blessing for us, especially after going through Thailand’s intense lockdown for several months. When they aren’t on a trip to visit churches or the sick, Stephen is back in his office working thoroughly on his commentary on the book of Romans.
|Stephen preaching on the weekends|
The request from Laos and Myanmar for Stephen comes almost weekly. Nevertheless, he is planning to make a trip to these countries as soon as all the lockdown regulations subside. Through Stephen’s correspondence, we have found out that there are many unreached ethnic groups of people in Laos, for instance, the ethnic groups called Bik, Bru, Lolo, Noi Kui, Sida, and many others. So far, there are no believers, no Bible and no evangelists among these unreached people groups. Now, if God is willing, we have a vision and a precise strategic plan to reach out to these ethnic groups in Laos for Christ, as soon as possible. Your prayers are much much appreciated!
We all, including our field teammates, are excited for this vision! Yes even though we all have loads on our plates already. For instance, Xia is a traveling evangelist and a youth Christian leader. He has over 400 Christian youth from eleven different churches under his care. In fact, he had just recently founded two new house-churches. Most importantly, Xia has been authorized by the government for his pastoral and evangelistic works. On top of this, he is currently studying the Bible with Stephen. Such a native minister is much needed in this restricted and one the most Christian persecuting countries in order to reach out to many unreached people groups. To fulfill his calling, each week he has to walk about 30-50 kilometers to evangelize to non-Christian villages. At the moment, Xia desperately needs a scooter for his evangelistic works so that he will be able to reach out to more people for Christ. If God is moving in your heart and you would like to support this new evangelistic frontier, a scooter costs roughly $1,500. (Several months ago, we were able to provide a scooter for evangelist Mr. Herr in another part of Laos, which has been an awesome tool for His Kingdom).
|The village where Xia helped plant a new church|
|The house church in the village|
Becky continues to type away at her computer, working on her next grammar lessons for our online English class as an evangelistic tool for the university students in Laos. Both, Becky and Nick, have a day during the week where they teach about 6 students per class. Speaking of classes, Isaac has also started going back to school amidst this Covid 19 pandemic. Apparently, Thailand has done a good job in keeping Covid 19 under control.
Also, thank you deeply for the extra monetary gift for Nick’s sport ministry for reaching out to our neighboring dislocated kids. This means that the kids will finally get team soccer jerseys. It’s a great start! The kids will be so excited! Praise God! The kids are doing awesome. This is the first batch of kids who haven’t dropped out of school, or gotten in trouble with the law. We have seen that many kids, in the past, drop out of school to deal drugs and also take drugs. After Covid 19 dies down, Nick plans to set the boys up for friendly matches with other teams.
One of the kids named Pai, who has been occasionally roasting coffee with Nick, has been searching for the Truth. He lives with his single mother who is Buddhist. When Pai was younger, he was often sent to live in the Buddhist monastery as a Buddhist monk apprentice. He does this in hopes that his mom would be blessed and would go to heaven. The Buddhist believes that if you have lots of merits (by doing good) you go to heaven, and if you do bad then you go to hell. Then after some time in heaven or hell, you are reborn at a better richer status (if you did good) or as a poor/handicap/animal (if you did bad in the previous life). If you lived a “perfect life” abstaining from everything, you enter Nirvana. Pai says that everyone, even the monks who mentored him, does “bad” sinful things. He has doubts on his faith in Buddhism. Nick told him about Jesus. He told Pai, “we all have done sinful things and we will probably continue to fail throughout life, that’s why we need Jesus.”
|The Soccer Kids|
Thank you also for all of you who lifted up Mary’s father Jeremy in your prayers! Jeremy is among the first group of Lisu Christian missionaries from China to Thailand in the late 1950s. Throughout his life, he has always been a straight shooter especially when it came to the teachings of the Bible. He loved meeting with people and loved to tell people about Jesus wherever he went. God gave him this personality where he could talk to anyone, anywhere. Jeremy has been a great servant for His Kingdom. After many decades of evangelism, Jeremy was recently diagnosed with an enlarged heart. He can barely breathe and his blood pressure is at an all-time low. When these conditions persisted, he was sent to the local government hospital where he was just given oxygen. Mary and Nick went to visit him. It was very hard to see an old frail man struggling to breathe the air around us. It was especially tough when the doctors came and asked that if he was ever in a critical state where he couldn’t breathe on his own, would we want him to be resuscitated and intubated. Mary’s father, with a slow shaky voice, said, “No… I’m ready at any moment to go and be with Jesus.” This is the man that has seen many storms in his life, and even in this storm, he is ready for peace with Jesus. His conditions did improve and he is back at home, but he could go at any time. Please continue to pray for his faith as he is nearing the end of his life. Also, pray for the family as they are sad but also joyful in his faith and hope in Jesus.
|Mary visiting her father at the hospital|
Whether rain or shine, we know that Jesus is victorious. He is our hope, our everything. Through the Good News of Jesus Christ, many lives have been transformed. For many missionaries like Jeremy, retirement isn’t really an option. There is no such thing as social security benefits for elderly native missionaries in Thailand. The reason we all do this is because we see His Kingdom grow every day and we are so glad to be a part of it. We thank you all for being a part of it as well. Together, we are making great impacts in Southeast Asia and China. Together, we are offering peace through Jesus Christ to a world full of storms.