Happy New Year for 2012!
Praise the Lord for His faithfulness, unfading love that is in Christ Jesus our living Lord. There are various reasons to give Him honor and glory, praise and adoration.
The Christmas convention at Nam roo was the highlight of our ministry in December. The way of Lisu Christians celebrating Christmas is very unique and has a long history perhaps back to the early years of Lisu conversion in China during the early 19th century. Lisu Christians all over the areas, several churches would gather together at one place and each person would bring one's own food and cook all together and share the meals together. Now a day, they would prefer to collect money together for buying food and eating together. The highlight of the Christmas is studying God's Word from various preachers after praising God through different hymns and choirs. Stephen happened to be one of those preachers who received the honor to share God's Word at this convention. (Below are pictures from the Christmas convention.)
The dark side of this convention was that many preachers did not have a solid, sound doctrine. At one point of Stephen's sermon, he felt that he had to correct some of those misunderstandings; for instance, one of the preacher said in his sermon that our God is a God who is hungry for honor, therefore, we Christians have to give him honor or He will be angry and judge us. Stephen told his audience that our Living God is not hungry for honor, but all honor belongs to Him. We are giving Him honor because it is due to Him.
Equipping Christian leaders with a sound biblical doctrine among Lisu people is very essential. For example, in China alone, the number of Lisu Christians has grown tremendously to 350,000. Out of these numbers, there are about 400 preachers and out of those, only 40 preachers have received biblical training. This is a must-do and urgent ministry. Otherwise, many common would be lead astray by unbiblical doctrine. It is disturbing to see various groups of missions have taught that biblical knowledge is useless and having the Holy Spirit is sufficient.
Because we have seen the need of this ministry, Asia International Seminary (AIS) is offering several biblical courses for various groups of Christian leaders from Thailand, Burma, and China. AIS will offer three different courses this semester - the book of Hebrews, Hebrews language, and the gospel of John - for Christian leaders from Thailand. AIS will also offer an intensive course for Christian leaders from China. The Christian leaders from China will be here in Thailand some time in January or February. They are applying for their passports and visas. The number will depend upon the decision of the Chinese government to issue passports. Your constant prayers for them are most appreciated. AIS needs more professors as our students are increasing. Please pray for that as well.
A variety of numerous mission works is before us - a calling for mission works, both evangelism to non-Christians and intensive Bible teachings to believers. Please pray to our mighty God that we will be able to harvest more souls for Christ throughout the year of 2012. All of these mission works could not happen without your participation. Your partnership in prayers and financial support are vital for carrying out the Great Commission to the lost people in Southeast Asia and China.
Everyone in our family is doing well. We have all been refreshed by the Spirit and filled with joy after many churches came for a service on New Year's Eve so that we can begin a new year with the power of God. Becky is going through acupuncture to regain her strength on her left side. Her studying is going well at North University. Nick will graduate in May from Ozark Christian College. He's trying to decide if he will continue studying or come to the mission field full-time. Please pray for God's will in that decision. John is at Grace International School in 8th grade. He's getting taller and taller. Possibly, he will be the tallest one in the family soon. Isaac is learning everything and very happy in kindergarten. He likes to repeat everything. Mary is ready to begin planting another rice crop. Praise the Lord that her health is much better. She is ready to cook for all of the students that will be coming this year.
May God richly bless you.
In Christ's Love,
Stephen and Mary