During 8th Century B.C., the tribe of Judah saw, with their own eyes, the Assyrian army destroying Israel’s capital, Samaria, and carrying away her citizens into exile. They had heard the defeat of Egypt and the destruction of Ashdod and the ruthless attack on numerous cities in Judah by the Assyrian army. Under much stress and facing such terrifying enemies, God’s prophet Isaiah called his readers to keep waiting and trusting in the Holy One of Israel. At last, they met their adversaries; the people of Jerusalem were caged in the city as the massive Assyrian army surrounded them and were ready to attack. With the threat of exile and death, the people of Jerusalem accused God for forsaking them. After healing, King Hezekiah himself even sought help by making an alliance with Babylon and started to worship Babylonian gods. Under these conditions, Isaiah calls the people of Israel not to fear and turn back to the Creator and Living God because He is the only One who can comfort them and redeem them. Living in similar circumstances, rather than an army, we face a mysterious virus that is pretty scary; we need to look up to God, our only hope who is able to comfort and help us get through this pandemic crisis.
In Thailand, over 20 million people have lost their job, that’s roughly 1/3 of the total population. In Myanmar and Laos, the situations are similar. Many have lost their income and the ability to feed their families; unfortunately, in many cases, government aid just doesn’t reach every part of society. This is a great concern! People are starving! Several groups of people in Laos, Myanmar, and even in Thailand have asked AFC if we have any means to help them through these tough times.
So far, from our small emergency funds, we were able to provide some rice bags and oil for the orphans in Myanmar at the beginning of April. At this moment, some areas of Myanmar no longer have rice bags for sale. In Thailand, Nick partnered with a local Thai church to provide some food for orphans living at one of the Buddhist temples in Chiang Mai. Several of his friends have also joined in and are helping the local community.
|The caretaker of an orphanage in Myanmar received our rice and oil for the children|
|The orphans at a Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai |
receiving packs of food
There are still several areas which crucially need help but we just don’t have extra funds to further aid the various communities in our mission fields. One of the areas that really need help is our neighborhood. As you may know, many of our neighbors are Shan refugees living in Thailand. Many of them no longer have jobs during this time, the government will not help them because they are not fully Thai citizens, and they can’t go anywhere because certain places are still under travel restrictions. We very saddened because we see many areas and people we love suffering greatly. Pray that the Lord will provide more resources to show Christ love to various communities through feeding the very poor and hungry during this pandemic.
Currently, we are still under lockdown and a countrywide curfew but it seems like the situation is gradually getting better and better. Thailand’s cases have dropped to the single digits, so the government is starting to slowly pull back the restrictions. Many restaurants are allowed to open but they are required to set up barriers and seating arrangements where people can dine in but are not allowed to sit next to each other. It’s for the safety, but it seems a bit funny to think about – gathering with people for a meal but sitting at different tables several feet apart. We really miss being with our communities and on the field.
In the midst of this pandemic, God is still moving, particularly in Laos. There are about 20 people waiting to be baptized. At the moment, many villages have a travel restriction so people cannot travel between villages. Our evangelists on the ground are not allowed to leave their homes in order to visit these said villagers. Please keep them in your prayers as they figuring out the best solution to reach this amazing harvest. Stephen is corresponding with the team there frequently and we will keep you updated on this situation.
|Had lunch with these leaders from Laos and also a relative (woman on the right)|
from China before the lockdown. Thinking and praying for them.
Finally, April did not bring fools jokes but rather a tremendous gift from the Lord. As the pollution got to the point of unbearable, God provided a blessing that gave us so much delight. It finally rained! And Oh Boy! Was the rain so cool and refreshing! Overnight, the fires on the mountainsides died down and the smoke cleared. It was a wonderful joy to see Chiang Mai’s main mountain again. It was such a dramatic scene change like from in the movies, camera pans from Mordor to the Shire; from chaos to serenity; from depression to joy. We know that our God is able and is with us even when we face dire situations.
|No smoke covering our mountain|
Stephen is very eager to go into Myanmar and Laos. In the meanwhile, he has been in the office working on classes to teach when the lockdown is lifted. He is currently studying how the New Testament authors use Old Testament. After finding that Paul quoted Isaiah 56 times, he has turned his research to the book of Isaiah. So far, he has finished Romans and Hosea and is two thirds of the way into Isaiah and then will move on to Matthew. Whenever he has found anything new that he has learned, he is very enthused to share with the family at our dinner table, evening devotion or even at the family services. We enjoy listening to him particularly when he paints a picture with words for the family to understand God’s Word. On top of this, he is also teaching basic biblical Greek via messaging applications for his students in Myanmar.
Mary continues to work in the garden and the family is blessed with her organic vegetables. We are able to be more self-sustaining especially when there is a shortage at the marketplace; we are even able to share some with our neighbors. She is planning to work with the less fortunate in the community and provide them with the organic vegetables that they are planting together. Becky has been helping Mary with chores around the house. Isaac is currently working on the ins and outs of his school’s program in order to prepare for online courses in the coming months. Nick is doing so much better. His coughs have subsided for the most part. He is very grateful for all the people who have been praying and encouraging him during his sickness.
As we feel surrounded by all this chaos, we look to God during this time. We look to Him for hope, for deliverance, for comfort, for love … for His presence. Thank you so much for your prayers and your partnership in the furthering of His Kingdom in Southeast Asia and China.