Dare I say it? “Normal ministry.” Well, yes, I said it! We are getting closer to getting back to “normal” little by little, though we understand that ministry has never been normal. It is life-changing and God-glorifying. There still remain plenty of limitations to normal life in general: mandated masks in all public places, contact tracing, and thermal scans. In May we experienced some push-back during a public evangelistic service and even had a lady shout at us, a rare experience in this non-confrontational culture. We were observing the standard protocols as far as we could tell. Needless to say, the door of influence has narrowed in that particular village; yet God is still working, and we are in awe.
Due to the start of schools being currently delayed by two months because of COVID, we’ve seen the normal summer momentum that our church young people experience every summer continue. Usually their faithfulness slacks off as school starts. We certainly believe in education, so please don’t misunderstand. In Asia, education is one of the strongest false gods that we battle. The massive amount of time invested in high school and college can be detrimental to balancing church life. This vacuum of time available has created a wonderful space for our youth, teens, and young adults to grow, also making room for all-day Sunday fellowship and a higher midweek Bible study and prayer meeting attendance.
We celebrated our main church plant’s nine-year-anniversary in July. It was different, as we had to separate the crowd into three areas, while providing closed-circuit monitors for those outside in order to accommodate recommended rules. We were pleasantly surprised to have our new Barangay Captain (local government leader) attend of her own accord to publicly thank our church for the rice-relief operations over the past several months of lockdown. We are thankful for each opportunity the Lord gives us to assemble freely without persecution, as in other parts of the world. Some of our new converts sadly have not been back for assembly due to past quarantine restrictions still influencing their current daily decisions. We are giving grace and support and strive to feed the flock with some in-home Bible studies.
The Lord has provided funds for us to build another room in the slow-going construction project of our Sunday school building. It should be finished by the middle of September. After this we will focus on adding proper restrooms to our property, as we have been getting by with just one very primitive C.R., as they are called here.
Audrey, Jonathan, and Bethany’s trip to America for annual doctor checkups in Cincinnati was canceled. We were actually thankful, since it does not seem wise to separate families or to attempt international travel at this time. We are trusting the Lord’s care for Jonathan, as he has now missed three scheduled brain scans. Our kids are a bit stir crazy, as they are restricted mostly to home and church and aren’t allowed in many public places. Normal boat and air travel remain under heavy restriction, so we aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. We have one family from our church that is still stranded on the neighboring island just 40 miles away, and they have been there since March. We are thankful for the daily reminder that when so much is out of our control, it is, in fact, even that much more in His control. What peace that passes understanding He gives His children!