A Time of Thanks and Joy

 As we get to the end of the year, people are becoming more cheerful and festive. Harvest season is at the peak moment; churches are busy having their thanksgiving or harvest celebration events. As usual, each village will invite their neighboring villages and churches to celebrate thanksgiving together. Similar to every other year, Stephen had been invited to share the message at some of those thanksgiving gatherings where over 500 people attend. At one of the Thanksgiving gatherings, Stephen, with Mary, Isaac went up to Huay Ko village, where they invited over 30 different churches (of course from different denominations and groups) from 3 different provinces. Because of the agricultural background of the village churches, it is easier to link Thanksgiving to the Feast of the First Fruits in the Bible. As usual, after the message some people came up to Stephen with tears of gratitude for the message; sadly, a rumor also went around against Stephen saying that he’s wrong to not be under a specific denomination. What should we do? To whom should we represent? This was the only thing that was discouraging about the trip. However, overall, it was a great trip. Isaac really likes these trips! At every village, we feel very blessed to see many faces which we have not seen for many months. A great sigh of relief and a sense of joy as we see many people in good health and safe from Covid. On the other hand, there are many cases of Chikungunya going around in these areas. Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne virus that affects the joints and causes fevers. Many will be bed ridden until the body can fight it off. There are no standard treatments or cure for Chikungunya except for rest and pain relievers. Unfortunately, Mary’s mother has this illness at the moment, so please be praying for her. This year we will not be hosting a thanksgiving event at our home because traveling for many people is still a challenge.

Stephen preaching at Huay Ko Thanksgiving

More than 500 attended

Thanksgiving at Kong Nguen Lisu Church
in downtown Chiang Mai

Beside these thanksgiving events, almost every weekend, Stephen had been invited to preach at different churches and villages across the denominational spectrums. One of the villages Stephen preached at was at Lin Luang, about two hours north of Chiang Mai. Stephen preached on what it means to be heavenly citizens. As many anthropologists have called the Lisu people a border-traveling people (not citizen of any one country/being citizen of many countries), many of the Lisu villagers were very encouraged by this message. Many of them have requested Stephen to teach the Bible when Covid is under control. By the way, we have also started recording Stephen’s sermons so we could share them on the internet to the Lisu people throughout Southeast Asia and China. Currently, we have been using our smart phone to record since we don’t have a proper camera yet. Also, we are still learning and figuring out all the ins and outs of videography.

Stephen preaching at Lin Luang Lisu Church

Recently, Nick went to Sam Muen, a very remote village where there is neither electricity nor a water system. The roads going to this village is among the toughest. The red clay roads are very tough to go up especially when it rains, even for four wheel drive vehicles. Nick took his Chinese student Herman to this village. The main goal of this trip is to clear up some land and prep the land for growing coffee. This coffee project is set to be a model for churches in Thailand, Myanmar and Laos (where the people used to grow opium) to be a sustainable and environmentally friendly crop. During the weeklong trip, Nick learned lots and spent a lot of time with the villagers. The best part about the trip was teaching the kids and Herman Bible stories and praying with them. What a successful trip as many people asked about what it means to follow Christ. Herman is interested in Christianity and does not bow down to idols even at Buddhist temples anymore, he says he wants to know Jesus more before getting baptized. Nick encouraged him to pray and read the Bible. It was a great trip!


Had a little party for the kids in Sam Muen Village

Group pics with host family
and some of the village kids

Sam Muen Village

A cozy little home during the cold nights

Herman, Gunn, and Nick having lunch
by foraging the coffee field

In our neighborhood, the soccer kids have been practicing soccer about 3 times a week. One of the kids was recently in a fight at a fair. Nick discussed with the kids about avoiding gang related risky situations. You see, many Shan teenagers in Thailand love to form groups and fight each other at fairs and festivals. In the news, very often, you hear about groups of Shan kids causing problems and this is one of the reasons Nick started coaching soccer for the kids in our neighborhood. Besides telling Bible stories, Nick teaches the boys to pursue good. Asides from this, Nick recently ordered some team jerseys for the kids. With the help from his friend in America, Brett Wagner who designed the logos, the shirt is almost completed. The kids will get them for Christmas!


Soccer strength conditioning

Nick takes a few of the soccer kids out a month
to make deeper connections with them

In Laos, our partnering evangelist is doing wonderful! Covid cases there are very low so now villages are starting to open up. During one evangelistic trip, our field team-worker went into the villages and provided reading glasses for the elderly. This was a successful trip. We are also waiting to send some clothes, toys, and over the counter medication into Laos, but at this moment, the land borders between countries are still closed. There is also wonderful news in Laos. Evangelists have now received official minister cards from the government to permit them to openly preach in Laos. This is a great beginning for Christianity being more accepted in the country. Praise the Lord! There are lots of ministry opportunities to be done in Laos. If God is willing, our mission works will extend further into Laos and eventually all the way to the border of China and to the northern part of Vietnam. Your prayers for this ministry would be much appreciated!


The elderly trying out glasses

They can see clearly now!

The family is doing well. When Stephen isn’t making any village trips, he spends his time in the office studying the Bible and prepping to teach the next Bible course. In fact, he is almost finished with his research on his new exegetical commentary. Isaac is on break and we are trying to find some time to take him camping. Mary is busy with managing house work and making everything run smoothly at the home front. Becky and Nick are still teaching English online to Myanmar students. They will begin teaching the students in Laos again at the end of the month. Thank you for your continued prayers and support! You are an important part to the mission field and we praise God for you!


Nick, with the help of our friends in Hawaii,
having Bible study/ English lessons
with students in Myanmar

Becky with one of her Thai students

*** Note: we will begin doing an update once every two months in order to focus more on the mission field and provide more details in our updates. During this time, as lockdown eases, we have been flooded with countless meetings and evangelism. Thank you for your understanding and prayers. ***