These three stories were collected from RI workers in Asia to give you an update on their lives since COVID-19 and how it has affected them, their work, and the people they care about. Some names have been changed for security.
God Continues to Work
By Tom, Asia Regional Director
In South Asia, schools have shut down and many students have returned to their home areas. One of the hostels that the team runs has emptied out, but at another hostel three students remain. These young men come from Hindu families and have only been at the hostel since January. They have been participating in the daily Bible study and prayer times in addition to their high school studies in town. Now that their school is closed they have a lot more free time. Liton, the team member who is providing leadership for the hostel, has also stayed and is taking advantage of this unique opportunity. They are studying the Bible together and he is teaching them about the importance of baptism. Liton wrote that “Their families are very worried for them; they have been calling every day. I asked the students whether they will go to the village, but they don’t want to go, they told me that, if they leave the hostel they will not get a chance to study the Bible and pray.”
The team in South Asia opened this hostel with the goal of influencing Hindu families for Jesus while enabling their sons to further their education. Even though the educational goals are stymied by this pandemic, God is continuing to work, and Liton and the rest of the team are seizing the opportunities that God gives them. Not only are these boys getting an intensive time of Bible training, but whole families are experiencing God’s love through the practical service of Liton.
For Some, the Quarantine Life is a Long-term Reality
By Candice, Worker in Thailand and Asia Member Care Provider
I think we all feel a little cooped up these days. Sometimes staying home for weeks feels doable and maybe we were just gifted some extra introvert time or family time. But sometimes the threat outside our doors becomes a thief of peace and sleep. We can’t make plans very far into the future without seeing a bunch of question marks. Holding onto peace and living content in all circumstances become moment-by-moment goals. We know that Jesus is our peace. Spending time with him and living by the Spirit is the only way to be at peace in a time of chaos where health, security, finances, and the future all feel unstable. We have to learn to sit with some uncomfortable feelings. It’s been a long month for most of us.
Now imagine that this has been your life for the past five years. Quarantine isn’t much different from the everyday reality of our asylum-seeking Pakistani friends here in Bangkok. But for them, home isn’t a comfy house with a grocery stockpile–it’s a single room or two for a whole family and enough to eat for today. Their future has been uncertain for quite a while, and going outside is always dangerous. Jamila and her kids were just in detention for months earlier this year and her husband and son are still inside; their future in Canada is long-awaited and still uncertain. We are used to our comfort, and this pandemic is threatening and disturbing to our peace. During our extra time at home, let’s remember what so many stateless people deal with in their everyday lives for many years and pray for them.
We are used to our comfort, and this pandemic is threatening and disturbing to our peace. During our extra time at home, let’s remember what so many stateless people deal with in their everyday lives for many years and pray for them.
Part of my normal work is teaching two of these families so that they don’t need to spend too much time in language learning in Canada before joining age appropriate school classes. We normally meet in their homes and have recently switched over to online learning. Little Abraham is working hard on his phonics and recently learned all the months of the year! Shalu loves graphic novels, especially Baby-sitters Club, and Surej is super bright and picks up new grammar concepts super quickly. Last week when I visited their home, a Thai Christian friend was also visiting them and we had an awesome prayer time together, singing, crying, and praying for freedom for the captives and restoration of their family by our all- powerful God.
Over at Pushpa’s they have been dealing with one fever after another. Because of their close quarters, the kids are always sharing sickness back and forth. Normally their one outing of the week is to church, so now that church is only online, they are cooped up every day. We meet over video chat for spelling tests, learning about renewable resources, reciting poetry, reading summaries, etc. I see changes in their moods and motivation as they look ahead to day after day of sameness and lack of normal childhood experiences.
Tom reminded our team during our zoom meeting last week that conditions for ministry and service are never 100% ideal and that God will be giving us opportunities even during this strangely isolated time. There are still ways we can help and serve and pray and I want to have open eyes to see how he’s moving in all of this. Meanwhile, we are feeling the anxiety, grateful for extra family time to play games, and that we have enough food. We can still join online church and meetings and time with friends and family. My favorite sustaining quote today is: “The calling: not to strive towards quieting our own churning hearts, or to face the fray of human conflict fearlessly but to seek to live in the presence of the Prince of Peace.” (from Questions for Jesus by Tony Stoltzfus).
58:12 Outreach in Thailand
By Jacob, Worker in Thailand
Did you know that a 5-kilogram bag of rice (11 pounds) costs $2.30 here in Thailand and can feed a family of five for two weeks?
God has called us to Thailand to serve and minister to the Thai people through 58:12 Global. We believe now, more than ever, is when non-believers are watching Christ-followers to see how we react during this pandemic. One of the ways we are responding and ministering to Thais is handing out 5-kilogram bags of rice and ramen noodles to families in our community. During these interactions, we also offer prayer and share how the one true God is a protector, provider, and healer.
We are respecting the Thai laws and wearing face masks, applying hand sanitizer, and washing our hands throughout all of our interactions with others.
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven.” Mathew 5:16