Just before being hospitalized, my brother (Pastor Joe), had a dream of two of our teams working together in the area known as the Golden Triangle. This is an area where Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos converge at the Mekong and Ruak Rivers. Pastor Joe’s dream was to use this area to reach into these three countries, and eventually into China. While in Thailand recently, I had the opportunity to visit the actual Golden Triangle.
PLEASE PRAY FOR THESE THREE COUNTRIES AND THE MEN AND WOMEN–INCLUDING OUR TEAMS–THAT ARE LABORING IN THEM!
I had the privilege and the joy to spend ten days with our team in Northern Thailand. Jay and Heidi Chang, and Tom and Sue Sutrick are serving in the mountains and working with the Hmong people. This is a very special place for me. It was in these very mountains about seven years ago that God gripped my heart. Not only for these people, but for the many different people groups in the 1040 Window. It was here that I said to God, “If you could use me in a small way to reach one of these dear precious souls, I am willing to come.” And, now almost five years later, here we are serving in Asia!
Tom and Sue Sutrick are my heroes. They really are! Neither of them ever attended Bible college. No ministry training to speak of, just two people who love Jesus and love people–especially the Hmong people. A simple lay couple for their entire lives, they both retired early to work with the Hmong people back in Wisconsin. And, in their late 50s, they packed everything up and “retired” to the country of Thailand to work with the Hmong people. They have been serving in these mountains now for about six years!
While in Thailand, I had the privilege of preaching for their church family eight times, and taught for three hours a day for a three-day Pastors’ and Church Workers’ Conference. In addition to Tom and Sue and their church workers, we had 10 men and two women come from a “Creative Access Nation” across the border for the teaching and the preaching. Grateful for Brother Jay interpreting for me during the special sessions. God really did bless in a miraculous way. On the last day, just prior to me preaching the closing message, tears of rejoicing were flowing and testimonies were given that caused me to tear up!
I also had the privilege of sharing the Gospel with ten different people while soul-winning in Tom and Sue’s village. While no one trusted Christ, they were all very receptive.
As I have mentioned previously, my primary focus, while here in China, is discipleship. Specifically, discipling and assisting with the training up of some of the men who are, and will be leading this congregation in the future, as well as possibly planting new churches in this city, province, and other parts of the country in the future.
Our Connection Groups are doing very well. I had the privilege and pleasure to visit and observe two of them this past week. On Wednesday, I visited our CG led by Li (Lee) that meets weekly at a secular business (KTV). God is doing something special with this group. Including Li and myself, we had 19 in attendance and 10 or 11 of them are unbelievers. Great opportunity to plant the Gospel seed. In recent weeks or months, three of them (Zhang Su Li, Li Ruchang, and Hu Li) have trusted Christ. Two more women (Lu Yan Zhu and Chen Jing) are very close to getting saved.
On Thursday, I was with Liu Hong’s CG. Including latecomers, I think we had 15 in attendance and we had a wonderful time of food and fellowship, as well as a great lesson from Colossians chapter one by Liu Hong. He is doing a wonderful job leading this new group.
THE PICTURES BELOW ARE BLURRED FOR SECURITY REASONS!!!
As I mentioned in our previous Update, most of the preaching and teaching is being done here by the National men. Our heart’s desire is to see them take this work over in the near future, as well as plant a few new churches in this city. I did get the chance to preach this past Sunday. Our church theme for 2018 is “Loving Christ is Obeying Christ,” and I used that as a springboard to preach on the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. The title of the message was “For The Sake of The Gospel.” It was a call for God’s people to come out of a spirit of complacency and be willing to leave their comfort zone. After the service, a handful of us went out for a time of food and fellowship!
We had a wonderful time of fellowship at one of our brother’s new home. I had the privilege to share a short message and pray for Zhang Lun, his wife, and their new home. Zhang Lun did not trust Christ until he was in his early 30s, and like so many others here, he had never heard the Gospel until he was over 30 years old. In fact, he had never heard the name of Jesus Christ-at least in a tangible way-until he was in his late 20s. He and his wife love Jesus and are pillars in the church family here.
After the service on Sunday, one of our dear and faithful members asked if Li and I would go to her home to pray for it. This sister has an amazing testimony. She was saved 24 years ago at the age of 46. She was led to Christ by another woman who had spent time in prison for her faith and who’s son was executed for his faith!
PLEASE PRAY FOR PERSECUTED BELIEVERS HERE IN CHINA, AS WELL AS OTHER COUNTRIES IN THE 1040 WINDOW!
A FEW ADDITIONAL PRAYER REQUESTS:
- Please continue to pray for God’s presence, power, provision, and protection in our lives.
- Please pray for us concerning recent “religious” restrictions that went into effect on February 1.
- Please pray for Tom and Sue Sutrick and the two village churches they serve in Northern Thailand.
- Please continue to pray for God to bless our six present house groups (potential future churches).
- Please continue to pray for those in leadership here at the church as we are beginning to train our folks including our leaders to disciple others.
- Pray for Zhang Lun, Li, Richard, Andy, Peter, and Liu Hong (and their wives), as God continues to mold them into the men and “leaders” that He wants them to be here in China.
- Please continue to pray for a few of our single young ladies (Cubie, Lily, Aslyn, Christine, and Theresa) to become the young ladies God intends for them to be.
- Please pray for our KTV Connection Group to be used by God to bring many souls to Christ.
- Please continue to pray God will help us to reach more teens and faithfully disciple the teens we have now.
- Please continue to pray for Maggie and Hu Ying’s salvation!
- Please pray for Lu Yan Zhu and Chen Jing’s salvation!
- Please pray for Zhang Su Li, Li Ruchang, and Hu Li spiritual growth!
- Please continue to pray for our teams in Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand.
- Pray continue to pray for Dick and Trish Baucum to have a fruitful furlough.
- Pray continue to pray for our ministry in Laos, as we consider assisting them in developing a discipleship ministry and culture and starting a Bible Institute.
My wife and I would like to thank you for your continual and consistent prayer and financial support. And we sincerely thank many of you for taking the time to read our update and praying for the specific needs. We love and thank God for you all!
Johnny and Denise
“Is not the commission of our Lord still binding upon us? Can we not do more than we are now doing?” — William Carey