In my last letter, I asked you to be praying about the current atrocities in Myanmar. They have been in a civil war there for nearly 70 years and with the recent military junta coup in February, and the persecution of their own people, many are saying this is the worst it has ever been. There was an open door to help them and so we went.
As always, we appreciate your prayers! The Lord strengthened us and I was able to safely get to the border. We left Sunday morning after services and arrived around 7:00PM. We spent some time fellowshipping and eating before I began preaching around 9:00pm. The evening service was held up on the mountain in a one room building that overlooked Myanmar. I preached on God being glorified even through the persecution and suffering of His people. I also pointed out that Saul persecuted the Churches, but later the Lord saved him and used him greatly. We pray that the Lord does this work in the hearts of the Myanmar soldiers who are persecuting His people. I trust the Lord encouraged them with the message as many there had family just on the other side of the river. Following the message, we all prayed together for about an hour. We stayed overnight in the village...and slept very well! The next morning we woke up early to discuss how we could deliver the needed supplies (bibles, tracts, used clothing, and bags of rice). Soldiers, on our side, were blocking all the main roads which lead up to the river. It was clear that they would not let us go further to hand over the supplies. While I cannot go into more details, I will say, the Lord found a way and the people on the other side received the Lord’s provisions! Please continue to pray for Myanmar, and especially for the Karen people who are still being greatly persecuted by their own government even as this letter is being written.
As COVID seems to be settling down in many other countries, it has come on with a vengeance here in Thailand. Since April 1st there have been 35,824 confirmed cases. The hospitals are filling up quickly so they have prepared large facilities as field hospitals with thousands of beds each. In Thailand, a positive test will award you a golden ticket to stay in the field hospital for 14 days (whether you have symptoms or not). Villages have closed up and new restrictions are being announced daily. This new wave has made things difficult on many levels. Pray for the country and for us as we navigate the best way to continue working around these new restrictions.
Due to the COVID outbreak, I have not been able to visit villages to interview potential students for the Bible School. I have spoken to a few of them, but I still need to meet with the pastor and students in person to ensure, as much as we can, that God is working in the candidate’s life in a manner that would lead the church to recognize the Lord’s calling. So for now, I have been preparing lessons, in between my Thai studies, for when classes are able to begin in the Lord’s time. Please earnestly pray that the Lord will continue to provide men who are hungry to study His word.
Starting a Church
Please continue to pray with us about starting a new church in our area. We have 11 people meeting regularly for services in Thai and English. I have started preaching through the Gospel of John which I pray will help solidify the deity of Jesus Christ as well as his person and work. In addition, John makes man’s response to the “Word who became flesh” very clear. We have been able to meet every week in spite of the new outbreak but just yesterday they announced that churches cannot meet for the time being. The government is working hard to make examples of those who break these rules and we don’t want to jeopardize our ability to stay in the country so we will have to figure out how to continue services online or by another means. Please pray for us.
Brittany was able to visit Mae Ai to learn from and assist Sister Susan Brown with an intensive English Camp she is having for her new students. It was a good opportunity for Brittany to learn more about how to begin with students who are complete beginners in the English language. Teaching English is one of the things that the government asks us to do in order to renew our visas each year. Between homeschooling our four children and her regular responsibilities, Brittany hasn’t had a lot of time to get started with this. However, we think the Lord has opened up a door (when the Covid outbreak settles down) to teach a few young people in our community and it is something she thinks she can manage. Pray for her! Also, the kids will all begin school next month. They have been on break for the past two months but everyone seems ready to get back into a routine and start back to school. We appreciate your prayers as they begin their new school year.
For HIS Glory, Matthew Villandry