I hope that all of you had a great time at New Year and its celebration. To start the year of 2015, we would like to give thanks to our Living God and Lord who blesses all of us to get through another year of 2014, which some did not make it through. Pray to God that He will continue to move among us so that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Bible Conference in Myitkyina.
For the most part of December I spent my time in Kachin State of Myanmar, Myitkyina and Putao in particular. The mission trip was a real blessing! Myitkyina is the capital city of Kachin State in Myanmar. It has been the hub of trading and business, particularly jade and gold, of Kachin State. Flying seems to be one of the ways to go to Myitkhina. The railway takes over 24 hours from Mandalay and the railway tracks have been used for over 100 years without repair. The flight takes about 55 minutes from Mandalay. The population is a little over 150,000 and more than half of the population is Lisu. Particularly at the border area between Myanmar and China, hundreds of thousands of Lisu people live there. These Lisu people are still worshipping the evil spirits and are heavily growing opium as their main cash crop.
The living standard is very bad, perhaps we have to wind our clock back 50 years back from Thailand and 100 years back from the USA. Traveling is limited. Someone told me that the whole town’s vehicles, except one car, are running without legitimate licenses. Mostly I traveled by motorcycle (scooter). Sanitation is poor, food taste different, fat and oily food mostly; however, my spirit was moving when I saw their hunger for God’s Word. They love to learn what the Bible says and discuss what it meant and means for them in now a day. They also have opened their hearts to hear what is going on outside of their country. They kept asking us to preach almost every opportunity. Just before Nick and Joe arrived, I preach at least 4 times a week (Wednesday night, Saturday night, Sunday morning, noon and sometime evening) with 3-4 different churches. Though my Lisu dialect differs from some of them, we could communicate well through what we call “the biblical Lisu dialect.” Overall, I did really enjoy the ministry during the trip, particularly the Bible teacher conference. I am looking forward, if God is willing, to make another trip with Nick and Joe this upcoming April, 2015.
Waiting to preach at one of the biggest church in Myitkyina
This church has almost 1000 members
Teaching at Bible conference for all Bible teachers
Our team including Nick Wongratanamajcha and Joe Snyder had a great time in teaching those Bible teachers in various contexts; some teaching at Bible colleges, other at Bible training center, many at churches whether teaching Bible at Sunday school, women or even children. They requested us to going back and conduct more teaching conference to the elders and other groups of church leaders in the area in the near future.
Nick has introduced a youth ministry at the conference. Though youth camp is available once a year, but the youth ministers or youth ministry does not exist. This is a new and challenging ministry. Nick presented to them if there is no solid youth minister or youth ministry in church sooner or later all the churches will die out. Youth are their future leaders or church members. When the older generation passes away, the youth will carry on their faith and legacy into their own generation. If no youth ministries exist, how could this youth be rooted and solid with God’s Word into their own generations. Many church leaders have seen this needed ministry. Praise the Lord!
Nick introducing a Youth ministry to Christian leaders
Translating for Joe Snyder
Here are Nick’s brief notes on the Youth ministry:
“I am really saddened when I see the youth of Asian countries addicted to drugs and alcohol, and even worse, no longer attending church to fellowship with the Christian community. There are many reasons that the youth (Christians and non-Christians) are turning into addicts but I believe that the lack of youth ministry is one of the major reasons. In the States, I worked with the youth of Fairview Christian Church, and although the youth ministry program wasn’t always a success, it seems to be a good place where kids can come and receive support, have good role models, and most importantly, learn to be like Christ. It saddens me that these churches lack the youth.
During this trip to Myanmar, I was able to present to the leaders my dream about starting up youth ministry programs, and they received it well. They see the same problems that I see, and would like to invest in the youth. I would like to train up youth leaders and youth ministers in the Lisu churches and help them establish a youth ministry program. Please continue to pray for the Lisu people, and especially for the Lisu youth.
I will be heading to Myanmar again in April with a team of youth ministers from America to help bring this dream into a reality for Christ’s Kingdom. Although it may take years and years before youth ministry is established, it needs to start. Thank you so much for your prayers and support. If you would like to join us in this great cause for His Kingdom or have any advices, please let me know. God bless.”
The AIS has four students who come from Myitkyina area. After studying with us for number of years, they have been greatly accepted and well known for their biblical knowledge. When I heard many people talk about them on how well they serve, it brought me joy to see the fruit of AIS’ teaching ministry is producing more and more fruits. This is happening because of your faithful partnership. Without your participation, our ministry would not be where it is today in bringing light to this dark world. Most of all, praise the Lord for allowing us, as simple and sinful men, in serving His great ministry of grace in making disciples to all nations.
A taste of the Youth Ministry
Starting with devotion
Enjoying the game!
Mission trip to Putao,
Just a few days before the conference at Myitkyina, I made a trip to Putao with a senator of Myanmar and Sarmuekhi (AIS’ student). Putao is located at the very north of Myanmar next to the border of China, in the east, and India, in the west. The flight took about 40 minutes from Myitkyina to Putao with the old purple plan. It was so cold, temperatures under 10 cc at night. Most houses are built from bamboo with palm leaf or thatches roofs. Sleeping on mats on the floor plus wind blowing through the cracks of the bamboo walls made even colder nights for us. Many places have no electricity (no shower for 5 days). Motorcycle (scooter) is the major transportation. The area has very poor health and hygiene. Malaria and TB are the most deadly disease killing several dozens of people in each year and thousands of people suffer daily.
Putao is the place where over hundred thousands of Lisu and Rawang people live in this area. Christianity once flourished in this area. Almost every of Lisu and Rawang people in this area are Christians. Once, churches were packed with over thousands of church members. Today, churches have been divided and many church building were shut down by the government in order to keep peace and order. Today, people have turned their house into places for church services. House churches are almost everywhere. Church leaders still go to court or city hall due to their confliction. I don’t know what or who has caused this division, but it was heartbreaking.
Morning life in Putao
Morning market at Putao
most churches have been shut down
One of the house churches in Putao
Night life in Putao (gathering at fire place)
A common house
a common life
picture with a senator
Christmas among Lisu people is congregational oriented, not family oriented. From the beginning of Lisu Christian history, Christmas has been the time for Christians gather together in order to hear the Word of God. At Christmas, everyone would pool their rice and food then cook together at one place and eat together as a community. I did really enjoy not only to see their hunger for the Word of God, but also to experience their unity in faith. My soul was moved when I saw the unity among the churches. For Christmas 2014, I was invited to be one of the speakers at two Christmas conventions at Myitkyina and at Weinmow. Myitkyina is located at the West side of Irrawadee River and Weinmow is on the East side. There is only one bridge to cross the river and the bridge shuts down at 9:00 pm. Traveling at night is prohibited. There were over 4,000 Christians attended at Myitkyina and over 500 at Weinmow. I was asked to preach at Myitkyina for the evening services on December 23 for the noon service on December 25 plus preaching at Weinmow on December 24. Since I stayed at Myitkyina, there was no problem at all on the Myitkyina side. But traveling to preach at Weinmow was a heartbreaking experience! At night, the insurgent were around Weinmow and trying to beat the time before the bridge closes was an unspeakable experience. Praise the Lord for his protection and experience with such blessed moment!
A 2014 Christmas convention at Myitkyina
A show at Christmas convention
Lisu ladies at Myitkyina
After returning from the mission trip, I thought that I would have a family time with my family. Unexpectedly, a group of Christian leaders came all the year from China in order to spend the New Year celebration with us. Their love and thoughtfulness did really touch us and have encouraged us to continue firmly in carrying out the Great Commission to the lost souls and building up His church among the remote and restricted people. Above all, they came from the area where Mary was born in China and after tracking the family history, it turned out most of them are close relatives of Mary. This turned out to be the real blessing for Mary during the New Year celebration. Praise the Lord!
I am really being blessed by the family. They always sacrifice their family life and specially their Christmas time so that I will be able to fulfill the mission works. Isaac, in particular, celebrated his 8th birthday without complaining his dad was not around. Mary has taken care of all the family needs while I was absent and even taking charge for all the mission works here in Thailand. It is going to be 6 years that we have been on the mission field. If God is willing, we are planning to make a visit to USA during the summer. John is going to be his senior for this coming. We are praying if God is willing, we will take him to the USA during this summer to introduce him to his birth country and to prepare him for his college.
A group picture with Chinese leaders
1. The family plan on this coming summer.
2. John’s preparation for his college education.
3. The Youth Camp at Myitkyina in April 2015.
4. The evangelistic works in China, Myamar, Thailand and Laos.
5. The equipping ministry of AIS.
May God bless you in abundance.