Greetings from isolation! It has been such a wild month. We live on the outskirts of Chiang Mai city, not really an urban city, but more like a big town. Chiang Mai is known as the “Rose of the North” because it’s a city unlike any other in Thailand. The people have a slow lifestyle and are generally known for being the nicest… I guess similar to the “Southern Hospitality” of several states in America. Being such a place with rich history, at the same time, with modern commodities, and a mix of different ethnic groups from all around the world makes Chiang Mai a unique place. This uniqueness brings millions of tourists into the country each year and also immigrants from many countries. Sadly, with the pandemic in full swing, tourism is nonexistent and people are living in fear. As soon as someone coughs or sneezes in public, everyone gives the person an evil glare and rushes in the opposite direction so quickly you would’ve thought they were Olympic sprinters.
At this moment, coughing is extremely common in Chiang Mai because the mountain that is the apex of the city is up in flames. To add insult to injury, Chiang Mai is located in a valley so all the smoke just settles and sits in the city for days on end. The air quality readings records Chiang Mai, Thailand as being the most polluted place in the world! Therefore, many people have been breathing in the soot and ash pm 2.5 particles and respiratory illnesses are popping up left and right. This brings even more panic and fear because symptoms of COVID19 and air pollution sicknesses are very similar, not to mention the occasional flu and cold.
Thailand is currently implementing a partial lockdown with a curfew at night. This lockdown could potentially become a full lockdown with a 24 hour absolutely no leaving the house situation. Crowd gatherings, all religious activities even church services have been forbidden; the big water festival, Songkran, which is considered to be one of the most popular holiday, drawing millions of people into Chiang Mai, has also been canceled. What makes this pandemic even more painful is the fact that all flights to America have been cancelled indefinitely; we are sad that we may not be able to attend our John’s wedding in America. Please lift John and his fiancée Anna in your prayers as they are figuring out all the ins and outs of the wedding and starting to plan life together.
During March, we delivered funds for purchasing a scooter for our local partnering evangelist in Laos. This was such a great gift for the mission works in this under-developed country. The evangelists are now able to reach and evangelize to even the very remote villages. In the midst of this pandemic, 134 people were baptized and ready to start a new life of hope in Christ. PRAISE THE LORD! The number of new believers and new churches springing up are just stunning! God is moving in this country and we are blessed to be a part of his plan in harvesting great amounts of souls.
There has been such an increase in new believers among animistic society. Now a days, many shamans have turned to Jesus Christ. In animism, shamans are the main person to speak to the evil spirits on behalf of the community because they know how to speak to the spirits and how to operate the rituals. Without these shamans, the new generations cannot perform their religious rituals. We are hoping that many more souls will be harvested due to the conversions of these shamans.
|A group of new believers after their baptisms!|
|Another group of new believers!|
|Even in this muddy pound, new life is born!|
Further great news that we would like to share is about a certain unnamed lower house member of the parliament whom we wrote about several posts back. For safety purposes, like in the past, sometimes we won’t reveal too many details concerning someone or a situation. Anyways, we would like to report that his clan, 7 households, have also accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. We are very blessed to see God work in such miraculous ways. We are so happy to share how God is working even in times of turmoil, sickness, failures, and chaos.
In addition, because of this pandemic, we realized how much of an asset online media has become. Churches are having live services, many teachers are teaching online, and even Bible studies are up online. Our team believes it would be wise to start thinking about producing Bible classes in the various local languages and develop a project to put these online. Even when this pandemic is over, we will still be able to use these online media as additional tools for people who are in various countries. It would even be possible for us to create video content to show everyone what our missions is accomplishing in Southeast Asia and China. As you may already know, several months ago, we produced gospel music videos in the Lisu language which was a success and has been widely viewed in the Lisu communities. This has been such a blessing for many. When we produced the music videos, we rented and borrowed several recording equipment. In order to self-run this online media project, we would need several tools that will hopefully last for a number of years such as a camera, lighting, microphones and a fast enough computer to run heavy editing software. After discussing with videography friends, it will cost 8,500$ in order to immediately start this project. In a world where everyone is connected online, this would truly be a benefit to many. Please pray for this project as it would be a very great benefit for thousands.
This is one of the Lisu gospel music videos we produced in December 2019. The title is Gethsemane, encouraging everyone to pray more like Jesus. (If you can't play it on here, here is the link: https://youtu.be/i8QWqR1J1iI )
As for the Wongs in isolation, Mary uses this time to garden so that we can enjoy our own home grown vegetables. Every morning, Mary, Becky and Isaac has also been going through the Bible together. Stephen is in the office everyday preparing for lessons to teach in Laos, Myanmar and here in Thailand once this pandemic has settled, which seems like it will be awhile. Nick has moved to the guest building because he has developed a cough, so please be praying for him.
At time like this, it’s very tough to watch such a strange virus cripple the entire humanity. However, we are inspired by the health workers all over the world on the front lines of this war between people and something so minuscule. Lab researchers all over the world working and hoping one of their concoctions would work. These days, it seems like everyone, everywhere is struggling somehow and at this moment, we are all just waiting… We are all probably at our house, bored and some of us worried about what’s going to happen to our friends or family. In this state of waiting… we can stay home in order to help lower the transmission rates because hospitals are very overwhelmed with this currently incurable disease. We can help donate to help those in need, whether in our communities or other less fortunate areas, because we are all affected by this. Most importantly, we can all pray. Pray for the sick. Pray for nurses and doctors. Pray for our leaders. Pray for our elderly. Pray for his Kingdom to expand even in the midst of this pandemic. Pray for your friends, family, and even strangers.
Thank you so much for your encouragement, support, and prayers especially in these dire times. God bless!