The Gospel Goes Forward
Steve Van Valkenburg is Christian Aid's Field Director for Southeast Asia. He is in communication with about 120 ministries in Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines. They have about 3100 native missionaries now on the field, with many more ready to go out when support of about $60 per month is provided for each one.
This chapel was built in 2008 with funds sent by Christian Aid. Many more are needed by believers who now must gather outside in the open.
In some countries, like the Philippines, missionaries can freely proclaim the gospel; but in countries where Islam is dominant, there is strong opposition toward Christians. Even in the Philippines a Muslim majority already exists on the southern island of Mindanao. Nevertheless, dozens of indigenous ministries can continue their outreach because Christian Aid donors remain faithful supporters of native missionary work in this country of 7000 islands.
In communist areas like Vietnam, Christians have been beaten and dragged off to prison by local authorities. When a native missionary is put in jail, his family has no means of support and they struggle daily to find food. Christian Aid has helped by sending support for these families.
Overt persecution is prevalent in Laos, and Christians in this country are among the most persecuted in all the world. With help from Christian Aid, one indigenous ministry leader operates a Bible school in a small church building. The top floor is used as a classroom by day and sleeping quarters at night. Students who attend the school often face imprisonment for their faith. Other leaders have church planting ministries that are bringing lost souls into God's family.
In Thailand persecution is not so overt and is generally seen on a psychological level. Buddhist monks proliferate the notion that "to be Thai is to be Buddhist." Christians are ostracized or pressured with threats and mistreatment.