(Abbreviations and pen names are used for security reason. Elijah, Chris and Rufus are HeartCry missionaries)
Dear HeartCry and Supporters,
As long as a church is founded upon the Rock, Jesus Christ, all we have to do as an under-shepherd is obey God and teach the Word through our words and life. I had to be away from the church twice on the Lord’s day in the past month in order to encourage and help other churches in need. But our church had visiting preachers and continued to be built up by the Word. I will preach from The Gospel of Matthew, chapters 5-7, in coming weeks.
After we purchased a five-wheeler, about 30 children can now attend the Sunday School class with their parents in the morning and afternoon services. That means about 10 people from outside the village can join the services every week. The church provides a simple lunch for them (that is just rice and something else to go with it), so that they could also join the afternoon service as well.
We began gathering at mid-week services not long after the church was established in our church building. We have started gathering in members’ houses in turn for the past three mid-week services. At first, members were embarrassed because their houses are small, and all their belongings are put together in a narrow space and there is little room for guests. But we started it and will continue to have fellowship among the members’ families. Some members do not get along with others. They have listened to enough sermons on loving one another, forgiving, and helping each other. Now they are able to put the teaching into practice through hospitality. In addition, this gives me a chance to know the real struggles and needs of the members by visiting their homes.
On August 26, a few church leaders and I leaders visited a local animistic village where
we had sent out a missionary two years ago. The evangelist and his family have been living among the people and preaching the Gospel. This is one of the mission fields I oversee. Prior to our visit, some “B” missionaries had come and persuaded villagers to convert to “B” with promises of physical support, such as road and school construction. They even sent two teachers for the primary school there. As a result, about 30 animist families were enlisted into “B’s” religion. There was nothing we could do about it, but we went there to encourage our missionary and a few believers and to preach the Gospel to those ignorant animist people. While I was preaching in a small building used for Sunday gathering, there were some people outside the building listening to my message and laughing at me. I sent to them a strong biblical message of warning that those people without Christ will surely go to the hell. I made sure to offer hope for them by preaching what the work of Christ has done for us to be saved. Sadly, they all went away with mockery in the first five minutes of my message. They have been warned and the good news has been preached. God knows his own. We also talked with village elders and preached about life after death.
R continues to teach the children on weekdays. They are having a house-church service on the Lord’s day and each week they have around 20 people. He is preaching the truth about becoming children of God only by believing in Christ. The progress is encouraging. Many teenagers believe in the Gospel. And there are also two young couples who professed faith in Christ. But they are still reluctant to publicly declare their faith. Next week, the villagers have a harvesting festival where everyone will participate. R is hoping to encourage those couples to get baptized in public. God willing, he will soon start establishing a local church in that village.
From Monday to Friday, Chris continues to teach the children how to read. Those who can already read are reading through the Bible. They are also asked to memorize a Bible verse a day. On the Lord’s day, a visiting preaching from MK came and led the communion service. The church is encouraged by this kind of occasional preachers from other churches. Chris has been preaching on the topic “Salvation” on the Lord’s days.
The area where Rufus and Chris are working is getting more hostile to drug dealers and Christian pastors. Recently, the authority launched a strategic plan to eliminate drugs in the area, which was immediately effective and functional. The plan was good but the wrong signal was sent to the public, which resulted in many people fleeing from their villages. Rufus and his wife almost fled too because the villagers thought the authorities were recruiting soldiers and would enlist him.
Peviously, there was a local leader who had shown favor to Christians. But another one who dislikes Christians has just taken his place. At the same time, a church building in another city in the region was destroyed by the local army. It might be related to political issues. The pastor and a few other Christian leaders were taken captive. It was alarming to our work there. But the incident was most likely related to the drug issue as many so-called Christian leaders in the region are involved in the business. At least two other pastors were allegedly arrested for drug-related issues.
New order against Evangelism
On 6 September, the authority issued an order of religious rules targeting the local Christian community. They are as follows:
- A thorough background check will be conducted on all pastors; where they come from and what training they had and etc.
- Evangelists and the contents of their messages will be investigated
- All church buildings will be investigated again and those built without permission from the authority will be destroyed. Officially constructed buildings from 1989 to date will be protected by the authority.
- Checks will be conducted concerning how Christian ministers are supported, and religious workers must not take secular office (village chief or leader)
- Religious teaching and propagations are strictly prohibited in secular schools (This is what Rufus and Chris have been doing)
- All the Pastors and church leaders must be official residents of the region, not a recent migrant from outside.
Please pray for us for the work in this region
Both R and C came to KT for a training Sept. 3-7. I had been away but when I returned we met up and had a good time of fellowship at my place. The work in that area is obviously more challenging than it was previously. We need to pray for the missionaries and for the believers in the area. Please also pray for the authorities and the government as they are dealing more harshly with Christians than before. We shall see how the new order affects our work in that area in the next few weeks. Thank you very much for your supports and prayers. God bless you.
In His Service,
Elijah (September 2018)