Carrying out the Great Commission!

Nick teaching English
Earlier this month, Nick led a group of servant-hearted people to visit the churches and the refugees in Myitkyina, Northern Myanmar. The group was of different backgrounds which included a retired Christian man from New Zealand, a Christian Thai woman who works as a Japanese interpreter, and a retired Japanese businessman; they all live in Chiang Mai. The Japanese businessman is not a Christian, but through a friendship with Nick, he wanted to go to potentially help the Lisu young adults find jobs legally in Japan. In Myanmar, job opportunities are extremely scarce and therefore many people are left jobless; on top of this, the number of jobless people becoming drug addicts are on the rise.

Here is the report from Nick:  The first day we arrived in Myanmar, we had to stay a night in Mandalay before our flight to Myitkyina the next day. During the night, we all walked around the dusty trash-filled streets of Mandalay. We could see several homeless and drug addicts laying on the side of the road, many intoxicated teenagers speeding around on their scooters, and signs of a developing city halted by the limits of the imagination of the locals to actually accept the change. It seems like the outside world constantly shoves new technology and advances into the metaphorical mouth of Myanmar and the local people don’t even understand or realize what these new things are… they are living in between 2 worlds, the 1950s and 2018. It’s a clash of cultures! On the street, you would see a modern SUV speed by, and on this same street you would see old raggedy carts being pulled by oxen. Even the way they wear their clothes is proof of this: men would wear their traditional skirts called Longyi (pronounced Long Gee) while at the same time wearing a button up shirt, black leather motorcycle jacket, and top it off with some minimalistic thong sandals. Something about this just rings a jumbled identity bell. After we finished our Mandalay night walk and night discussions, we prayed and went off to our separate rooms.

The following day, we met up with several Lisu people in Mandalay who had a business in the city. We got to pray with them and then we left for the airport. After about 3 hours of waiting (delay is extremely common) at a nearly empty airport, we took off for Myitkyina. When we landed in Myitkyina, several Lisu Christian leaders came to pick us up for dinner and then take us to the hotel.

The English class

Visiting Nicodi refugee village

The kids at Malica

Kids at a refugee village
The week went by, our group taught worship songs and also English. The whole week went in this similar fashion. We visited several Christian leaders and spent time with them. There was a Sunday when we went to a remote Lisu village of Malika and joined the small 15 person church. For many of the members here, this was the first time that they had ever seen a “white person.” This was a great day where we worshipped, gave testimonies, and I had the opportunity to preach at the church. It was a joy! We also had the opportunity to visit the refugee village of Nicodi on the outskirts of Myitkyina. The Myanmar government was a bit touchy with foreigners leaving the city of Myitkyina to go to Wain Maw, across the long bridge over the big Irrawaddy River, which is where Nicodi refugee village resides. In order for us to go across the security checks, into a higher risk area, a Christian leader who also worked for Myanmar Red Cross had to escort us across, this was definitely needed because we had a “white person” with us so we really couldn’t blend in. Praise God, we were able to go through and visit this refugee village. This refugee village was set up by churches in the area and several of my father’s students who attended Asia International Seminary in the past; this village houses over 300 displaced Lisu from war and also some were displaced from the big flood a couple years ago.

After several trips to this village, I can honestly say that this refugee village is a success story all together. The villagers grow crops for self-consumption and now are beginning to have more to sell which means that they are beginning to have an income. They are also in the process of building a new church building that is being funded from the money that they work hard to make. This village is definitely a success story. The next time I go there, I feel like they need to be educated on hygiene and health because several of the children are running around playing in trash piles and have visible bleeding cuts. There are several other refugee villages in Northern Myanmar, and most of these villages are struggling with drug abuse and are taking time to grow to be self-sustaining. All in all, praise God that this particular village is doing extremely well.

Nick and Sarmuekhi (next to Nick) meeting with
a member of lower-house parliament (left),
The trip was a true blessing for fellowshipping with many Lisu in Myanmar and spending time with the children at the refugee village as well as bringing them candy from Thailand. The whole group saw how blessed we are compared to the Lisu living in Myanmar and this has encouraged us to pray and help them more. God is working in Myanmar and also in the lives of each of us that went. Please continue to pray for our ministry as we continue to serve the Lord in various parts of Southeast Asia and China.

Thanksgiving at a Lahu village

Thanksgiving season among Christians in Thailand, Myanmar and even China takes place within two months, October-November. So, our family was busy attending thanksgivings at several churches in different provinces of Thailand. Stephen preached at several thanksgiving church-gatherings. On the Thanksgiving Day at a Lahu village, Stephen and his team had to go from house to house, starting early in the morning, to pray and give a blessing for the family and ended with eating their first crop meal at that house. After a few houses we all were full (by the way, Stephen already told his friends to have a few bites at each house), but the prayer chain from house to house kept continuing until noon and the finale was a church service, which many churches gathered together at this service. After the church service, the whole village cooked their first crop again. The attendants must give a blessing to the whole congregation by eating the meal.
a road in the lahu village

farms at the Lahu village

A typical Lahu house

a Thanksgivings meal

The Thanksgiving-gathering-meal

Stephen preaching at the Thanksgivings-church-service

Stephen preaching
at church in Chiangmai

a small group Bible study on Matthew

During this busy thanksgiving season, Stephen made a quick trip to China to help write a proposal to encode the Lisu ancient characters. He was a government guest and his whole trip was paid for by the Chinese government. Praise the Lord! Mission’s work for Stephen in Southeast Asia and China must be based on relationship. At the moment, many things have been changing in China, both positively and negatively. To make it short, churches have been limited in several ways. However, Stephen is hoping that his ministries in China would not face negative impacts through this warm relationship that he has built with his Chinese friends who are working in the government office.
Stephen and his co-author in Kunming,
Mary’s rice is ready to be harvested. Because of the heavy rain in the past several months, the field is still covered in mud. No one can walk into the field. Hopefully, we will be able to celebrate the harvest soon. Becky is tutoring English for her teenage cousin (a sister in our culture). This cousin is preparing herself to go to the USA for further studies since she has relatives living there. Isaac enjoyed his first ever boy-scout outdoor camp. This event shaped his personality and mentality; he is growing up so fast. 
Isaac heading to a Boyscout camp

Isaac and his friends
This year, John is taking some of his classmates from Boise Bible College (4-6 students) and is working on raising funds for their summer mission trip to Southeast Asia, Myanmar and Thailand in particular. This will be a great time to be able to catch up with him, meet his close friends, and let them experience what mission’s work looks like in Thailand. If you would like to support them on this trip, please contact John directly via Facebook or at Even a quick prayer will go a long way!

For the Sake of His Kingdom,
Stephen and Mary