As we face hardship in our everyday lives, we have more and more anticipation for Jesus’ coming. Everywhere we turn, it seems like calamity trumps calm. We see lots of political unrest in many countries including our own. Diseases seem to loom around waiting to pounce and cause another streak of fear. On top of this, natural disasters could not come at a more unfortunate time. Oh how we look forward to the day when we finally have peace.
As we wait for that day, we are called to be a light in this world. Recently, even with all the chaos, we have been encouraged by the comments of many people. Some have given remarks such as “life is hard right now… this (online) class is the only thing I look forward to all week”, “the good thing about COVID is that we have time to study Bible (online) with you”, “you help me grow closer to God.” Oh how we thank God that we can give people peace and hope even when the whole world seems to be falling apart.
One of the countries we are really focused on is Laos. Even though the borders are closed, we are coordinating with our teammates on the ground and oh do we have good news! In Laos, several government officials have accepted Jesus Christ! Many believe and are baptized! As we follow many of these stories from our friend on the ground, we are overjoyed by what God is doing in the country. Many of these government officials including a village leader, a police captain, a district deputy, a provincial vice-governor and even a member of the house of representative have accepted Jesus Christ as their own Lord and Savior. Some of them even have expressed that they are willing to give up their position and income to follow the Lord. They are willing to sacrifice their governmental office position if their government chooses to go after them for their newfound faith. Aren’t these new believers’ faith encouraging for us to hear? We think so. If you are also encouraged by this, please pray for these new believers.
|Several families in a village hearing the message |
from the evangelist.
Remember, several weeks ago we asked you and many of our prayer warriors to pray for a police officer in Laos because of his sickness. Through prayers, God has answered. This man was healed! Now, he has asked our friend to go to his home in order to tear down his spirit shelter because he has decided to follow Jesus Christ! Praise God! The problem is that our friend cannot cross the provincial border due to the COVID lockdown.
There is one more thing we ask for your prayer for in Laos. In an entirely different area, the new Christians in a certain village in Laos is facing threats from the locals. The locals threatened the new Christians by reporting to the government that the Christians have been worshipping in unauthorized locations, house churches. The authorities agreed that they must have a church building in order to gather; church buildings can be monitored, so the government is not too fond of house churches. The authorities have made a deal that the 294 new Christians in this town should build their own church or seize to meet. They have approximately 6 months to build a new building. Please continue to keep this in your prayers as they lack building materials!
|More and more believe and are baptized|
|A bible class in Laos|
Myanmar and China
The situation in Myanmar with their government continues to persist and not much news is coming out of that country. Our students and friends in the country continue to live in fear. Not only do they have to live with the fear of COVID, but also with abrupt battles starting. The university students are taking their time to study English with Becky and Nick (and our wonderful friends in Hawaii). All of the students are really enjoying the classes and are excited every week. Furthermore, Stephen continues to expand his online classes. He has roughly 60 (and counting) Christian ministers and church leaders from China and Myanmar studying with him on Wechat, and about 6 in Zoom from China, Myanmar and Thailand. These people are very glad to be learning Bible with Stephen. They love being able to get deeper through this exegetical based lessons.
|Stephen teaching Christian leaders from|
Myanmar, China, and Thailand
As for Thailand, it is more evident that we will be locked down for longer than anticipated. The spike of cases in this 3rd wave with the delta variant has approached our doorsteps. The district we live in has a cluster of covid infections that are being watched at the moment but more are popping up. To add insult to injuries, our country does not have any effective covid vaccines. People are not happy that in order to get quality vaccines, one must pay over 100$ US to reserve Moderna, which still isn’t guaranteed to arrive. We are unvaccinated (sounds strange to say) and are hoping for better vaccines. Please pray for this situation.
A couple months ago, before the initial onset of this 3rd wave, Stephen and Nick went up to Mae Tae village about 5 hours North of where we live. Stephen’s nephew, Abe, invited them to come and join in a house worship service. Stephen gave a sermon on how important it is to have God at the center of a family. Moreover, Stephen and Mary headed to several villages when they had the chance. One of the places they constantly go to is Mary’s village called Huay Ko. During the two weeks that this village was locked down, Stephen and Mary delivered food so that they would be able to get through it. This village houses the first Christian evangelist from China back in the 70s. This year, a couple members of this group of evangelists went to be with the Lord. Stephen and Mary are sad to watch their mentors pass away one by one but have joy and comfort that they are going to be with the Lord.
|Stephen praying for Abe's family as they move |
into their new home
|Stephen spending time with his great nephew|
|Mary (and Stephen) delivering food |
to a locked down village
This year, Stephen was supposed to go to America to teach at a missions camp in Oregon but unfortunately he wont be able to make it because, like most people in Thailand, he has not had the covid vaccinations. This is the second year that he will not be able to attend this camp. If Lord willing, we are hoping to get vaccinated by the end of the year. Mary and Nick started planting papaya trees in the backyard. Early mornings and late evenings are the best times to work because of the midday heat. During the past week, rain season began and we had torrential downpour for almost a week straight. The water in the field rose and almost flooded our home but thank God the rain stopped for a moment, as we pumped the water out of the house. We are praying that as we approach the peak of this rain season, that there wouldn’t be a flood. In any case, we believe God is in control.
|The water rose, and almost entered the office area.|
A couple weeks ago, Nick had a youth event in the city. He coordinated with his friend, who owns an airsoft field; they had an event where the youth invited their friends over to play airsoft together. About 20 youth came together for an afternoon of competitive fun. Isaac also got to join this event and he had the most points! This past week, Nick took a trip to Sam Muen Village, to finally grow some coffee. It has not been easy because he had to ride the scooter up the slick dirt roads to the farm… He took several tumbles. In several days, Nick and few villagers planted about 350 coffee plants this first year. Please pray for him as he meets new challenges along the way as the “new coffee guy” in the village.
|Youth airsoft event in Chiang Mai|
|Isaac with his cousin Jay planning how to win!|
|Teaching the soccer kids |
how to play basketball
|Nick and his helper Pateep digging holes |
and planting the small coffee plants
|2-3 more years before these coffee plants|
will begin to fruit
We thank God for giving us peace and comfort in knowing that He is almighty and in control. So even with all the negativity in the world, we will continue to be a light. Continue to pray for us as we give some hope to the hopeless, some peace to the chaos, some confidence to the fearful. Until He returns, we will continue to expand His Kingdom on earth!