Taking up the Cross!

Stephen with a native evangelist

How far are you willing to follow Christ? How much persecution or hurt are you willing to endure for His Name? How many comforts are you willing to give up in order to expand His Kingdom? Anyone in ministry has had to face these questions. Maybe some of you are asking yourselves this right now. Anyways, here is a little story about a great missionary and indeed he is one of our dear friends. This missionary isn’t famous, you wouldn’t see him on any media or in a popular article. In fact, Pedro is his name and he lives in China. He’s originally from the Yunnan province, China and one day he felt a calling to go to Shangri-La (a former Tibetan area and now a self-governing city in China) in order to preach the Gospel to the lost. This was in the early 2010s. Before he left, his entire church and family including his wife and children had a funeral service for him. It’s a bit absurd to attend your own funeral service especially being alive. He and his family understood that this was a suicide mission because at the time, Christians were persecuted heavily in Tibet. So, he attended his own funeral and then leaves for Tibet. While in Tibet, he hid in the attic during the day and at night, he would come down and preach to the people in the small house. Slowly, day by day, he did this for over 2 years. The church in Tibet grew and God kept him save. After about 2 years of this, he traveled back home. Most of his church members and his family were extremely shocked to see him alive. During the time that he was in Tibet, he had no way of contacting his family and so it was normal for the family to think he was dead. This is what he gave up in order to expand the Kingdom.

In another country, there is another kingdom worker that is doing a phenomenal work with the locals. This native evangelist resides in the communist country to the east of Thailand. He’s being used by God to do great things in a country where Christians are persecuted. He has been planting many churches and telling people about Jesus. We are extremely blessed to be able to partner with him in order to further God’s Kingdom in Southeast Asia. For many Christians in the communist country, everyday could be your last day on earth. In the midst of literal and physical persecution, more and more souls are being converted.

Not long ago in this country, there was a local man from a reputable family that really hated this evangelist. The local man believed that this evangelists was destroying the culture of the native people and everything they have held dearly on to for generations, so he vowed to kill the evangelist. Every day, the man sat waiting on the side of the road in hopes to ambush and assassinate the evangelist on his way home. Miraculously, the evangelist would unknowingly take different paths home every day, so the man was never able to murder the evangelist. One day, this local man was oppressed by the evil spirit and lost his sanity; his family took him everywhere but he couldn’t be healed. Finally, the family decided to bring him to the church where the evangelist went. The evangelist and several Christians gathered and prayed for the man and he was healed by God! This local man accepted Christ and became a firm believer of Jesus! Now, he is an elder of the church with about 700 members. Praise God! The man, at some point, confessed to the evangelist about how he plotted to murder him and asked him for forgiveness. This is an awesome and powerful testimony where God works in people’s lives and even restores relationships! This month, Stephen went to that country and was able to meet the local man; in fact, this man was the one who let Stephen and the evangelist use his car to travel around in order to help people and to spread the Gospel! He asked for prayers for his family because many of his siblings are still non-believers and have, in a sense, shunned him for following Jesus.

Such a powerful and living testimony recalls Stephen to his early conversion since his family was one of the first group of Lisu in Thailand to accept Jesus Christ. Over 45 years ago, Stephen’s family, new believers, went through several types of persecutions from family shunning, to house stoning (people threw rocks at their house), house burning (people attempted to set the house on fire) and eventually many villagers paid a hit man to massacre the family. Perhaps this is the reason that God sent our mission to those persecuted countries because we would be able to relate well with both the persecutors and the persecuted.

Indeed, Stephen recently made a trip into Laos in order to build relationships with the local people because God has opened this door very wide. Nick took him to the border of Thailand and Laos, where Stephen took a hundred mosquito nets with him into Laos in order to help the local people afflicted with mosquito borne diseases. The trip was a great success. At first, Stephen was a bit timid and afraid when he was asked to preach to a large crowd. With many stories of foreigners disappearing or being killed or being locked up indefinitely, fear creeps in. Nonetheless, God is able and He was there with the native evangelist and Stephen. Throughout the trip, without breaking national laws, Stephen was able to build great friendships with leaders both nonbelievers and believers. In many occasions those leaders asked him to pray for them. Praise God for this!

Hot, Hot, Hot

Traveling through the jungle to reach
the remote villages
A typical cooking at the remote village 
Early morning at the remote village
Harvesting at the rice field!
Meal fellowship 
With new unbeliever friends!
One of the local churches
Stephen is preaching in Thai with the interpreter 
During the month of October, the whole family faced various sicknesses. Stephen, Mary and Isaac all had the flu and after that… a cold, back to back. Becky also had a cold as well. Stephen had the flu but still went to Laos because the schedule to meet the locals and the leaders had already been set; Mary was in the hospital for several days. Towards the end of the month, Isaac ended up getting food poisoning which also led to hospitalization for a few days. Nick has a knee injury as he played soccer with the refugee kids whom he coaches. With all of these problems, we still praise God for giving us another day to serve Him. We are weak but He is strong, we fail but He is able! Our God is awesome and is worthy of all praise, and that is why we choose to give up certain comforts, endure persecutions and trials, and humbly look to and follow Jesus!

We appreciate your constant prayers for our family and ministry as we tell people about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in Southeast Asia and China.