Happy New Year 2023! It is that time of year where we reflect on all of the challenges and blessings we experienced during 2022. At last, we are so glad that the covid lockdown is behind us. Now, we are able to finally visit churches, meet people, and even host events; all of this with the slow transitioning of unmasked faces as the year progressed. It is such a blessing to see peoples’ faces and their emotions, especially their smiles!
After three years of lockdown, churches began to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thanksgiving and Christmas here are huge communal events. Particularly, Thanksgiving here is strongly related to harvesting crops; rice, corn and etc. Therefore, many churches are still having Thanksgiving even in January. We have been attending and preaching at countless Thanksgiving gatherings and Christmas conventions during this season.
Stephen preaching at Lahu Village Thanksgiving
|The Lahu Church in their beautiful colors during|
Reflection of 2022
Here are some main highlights in our family and missions that we would like to share so that you can join us in praising our living and mighty God. Yes, there has been a lot going on in our missions! God is definitely working and we are thankful to be a part of His Great Works. In 2022, over 400 people believe and were baptized! From war-torn communities in Myanmar to poverty stricken villages of Laos to new settlements in Thailand, people are coming to Christ!
|Riding scooters to a remote village|
through muddy road- not easy!
|The local evangelist praying for |
this family in Laos before their
Mary’s clothing ministry to these destitute areas continue to be a blessing to many. Our friends in those areas have been helpful in delivering the clothes to these villages far from modern society. Many who received the clothes were shocked and asked “Why are these strangers (talking about us) helping us? We aren’t even their friends or family.” To these statements, we tell them about Christ and because of His love, we are able to love “strangers.” Several believe and are baptized after receiving clothes and the Good News. We are amazed by how clothes, which many overlook, can make such an impact for His Kingdom.
In March 2022, Thailand fully opened its country, this brought about several events which were put on hold during covid. First, we started having family gatherings again. This led to several members of our relatives wanting to study the Bible. This gave us joy because we have always wanted our big family to be used by God, in the government and schools since many of their careers are held there. The relatives are beginning to join us on our trips to visit churches in Thailand.
During the middle of 2022, thanks to IDES we were able to help thousands of family in need as they transition out of the trying covid lockdown period. We helped many Christians and non-Christians in Myanmar, Thailand, Southern Border of China, Laos, and even Vietnam. We would like to thank IDES because they have been a great vessel through their funds for us to reach and help the people who are in very remote areas. Through this task, we were able to reach the people who would have been overlooked. We saved many lives and also many spiritual souls were won for Christ because of this effort. Praise God!
Another successful project in 2022 was building a church in Tap Der, Mae Rim district of Chiang Mai. We coordinated with our Christian friends from Korea who were called to give to build a church in a village without a church building. Our friends donated for the cost of supplies and tools, and the villagers gave their strength and skills in constructing the church building. After the completion of the church, the first worship song sung in that church brought tears of joy as we see the beauty of the unity among different cultures all singing to glorify God under the roof they built together. Now, this is church!
Towards the end of the year, Asians For Christ held a week intensive Bible study to Christians in Myanmar via Zoom. Over 120 attended the virtual class as Stephen taught from Thailand. The following week Nick, in Thailand, with the help from teacher David, Paul, and Grieg from USA, were able to provide a virtual course to leaders in Laos and Thailand. This was the first time for Nick to lead the global conference (Stephen oversaw it). He also did a wonderful job as he interpreted a class for the first time. Many great positive feedbacks came from students and those in attendance. Praise the Lord! During the weeklong intensive course, Christian Leadership and Cults were the classes that were offered. The Laotian classroom had almost 80 people (mostly Christian evangelist, and a few interested new Christians). With these two classes, the evangelists are now able to acquire evangelist card, which allows them to preach freely in their country, one of the first of its kind. Praise God for this great step in reaching the lost in Laos.
|Stephen's Virtual Class for the leaders in Myanmar|
|The Myanmar Leaders studying in |
Stephen's Virtual Bible Class
|The evangelists studying in Laos as |
we taught via Zoom (on projector)
There were many other great highlights of 2022 but that would take many pages of writing and still wouldn’t capture the wonders of God! Although, with every highs, there are some lows, as Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4 says for everything there is a season-- a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance. In 2022, Stephen lost his older sister and Mary lost her father. This grief rocked the family a bit because it’s so hard to imagine a life without someone close, especially family. Mary’s father in particular was one of the pioneer native missionaries into Thailand. In 1958, he and his team walked several months from China; climbed over hundreds of mountains and crossed the Salween River into Thailand. In Thailand, they walked from village after village proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ to the Lisu people in Thailand. Then in the early 1970s, because of the hope to do mission works in Thailand, he and his family permanently left his home, relatives, and church in China and became a stranger in Thailand. Because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he lived with nonbelievers and worked in the farm during day time to support his family, and taught God’s Word to those villagers in the evening. During the dry season, years after years he would make evangelistic trips to villages after villages. His efforts has led thousands of people to Christ! As both sides of the family work through grief, we are all comforted in knowing that there is hope, the New Jerusalem awaits! Yes, there is hope for those who follow Christ!
|Mary's father, Jeremy, a man devoted|
First and foremost, we are excited that Nick and Kao were recently married! The wedding ceremony was beautiful and many relatives and friends were able to join. Much of Kao’s friends and family are non-Christian, and even they had great feedbacks about the wedding in a church. Most of them have never even stepped foot in a church building. Some expressed that they even cried as they listened to hymns and worship songs during the ceremony. Nick and Kao, along with some friends, continue to lead the youth group at a church downtown Chiang Mai. Kao also works as an interpreter for a big Japanese company where she has been a light to her coworkers! After their marriage, they plan to live near Nick’s family. Please pray for them as they continue to serve the Lord!
|Nick and Khao's wedding (Isaac was bestman)|
|New member of the family!|
Another great news is that our mission works have officially expanded into Vietnam! We have sent some locals to survey the area for interests and have sent clothes and packages to some of their villages. They seem to be receptive (in the past weeks, over 10 people were baptized) but please be praying because everything can change last minute. Also, pray as we are planning to head into Cambodia as well.
|New members of our |
Here are some photos of other events that happened recently:
|Stephen praying for a Thai Christian soldier's family|
|Thanksgiving event at our house was a success!|
|Mary giving out treats at the local school |
during their Children's Day holiday
|Stephen praying for a high ranking soldier's household|
|Nick having dinner at home with the students |
on his soccer team before watching
the World Cup Finals!
|Nick having dinner with a couple students whom|
he's taught since they were very young