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December 3, 2020
Justin Galang assumed God must care only about heavenly things and whether people were moral or not. When a local missionary on his native island in the Philippines invited him to a Bible study, Galang was surprised as leaders talked about how the Lord cares for people’s physical and material needs. Having grown up in poverty, the young man began intense study of Scripture – and was so taken by what he learned that soon he felt compelled to invite his fellow tribesmen to study with him.
October 22, 2020
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, highway patrolmen at a checkpoint in the Philippines stopped a local ministry leader and three co-workers as they traveled together. On their way to another province to proclaim Christ and plant churches, the local missionaries waited for the uniformed officers to let them continue on. “I told them not to delay us because we were on a mission trip journey, but they just ignored what I said,” the ministry leader said. “I told them, ‘Since we cannot reach our destination, I want to share with you the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ.’”
October 15, 2020
Burma (Myanmar) saw a dramatic upswing in COVID-19 cases in September, and the ensuing lockdowns further hammered the poor and the local missionaries serving them – even as workers were bringing more people to faith in Christ. A native ministry leader said COVID-19 restrictions have blocked villagers from going to rivers to fish or forests to find bamboo and wood. “The situation now looks darker,” he said. “People are in great fear for the days ahead.”
September 24, 2020
Filled with sorrow that his wife had left him, a young man in Laos was walking through Buddhist temple grounds when he felt something like a small bird hit him in the chest. A strange strength came over him, and relatives said that later he became violent and unable to communicate coherently. His parents and other villagers were unable to calm or communicate with him; they built a cage and locked him inside.
August 27, 2020
The year began with the death under suspicious circumstances of a local missionary. Before that, the director of a native ministry in the Philippines was stunned by the sudden death of a 43-year-old pastor he had known since childhood. In March he and his wife lost their adult daughter to cancer. The challenges of COVID-19 lay before him as he learned to press onward in faith.
July 23, 2020
For years a police officer in Vietnam had followed orders to infiltrate worship services in search of pretexts for arresting church leaders and shutting down churches. After retiring last year, the love he saw in Christ and Christians led him to put his faith in Christ – under threat of harsh punishment. As he was telling residents in one area about his new life in Christ, the village head approached him. “You must stop your testimony,” the official told him.
June 18, 2020
For local missionaries in remote areas of Southeast Asia, use of social media and Zoom as solutions to COVID-19 restrictions is not always possible and can sometimes be dangerous. Ministry through social media posts in Indonesia or the Philippines can trigger hostilities from Islamic extremists or rebel militants, local ministry leaders said. “We have to communicate with social media, but that can be a very big risk and dangerous for us as ministers, because there can be many sensitive things on it,” the leader of a local ministry in Indonesia said. “This is a very hard situation.”