The following updates begin with the most recent updates first. Scroll down to see updates in the order received, or search (CTRL + F) to look for a specific missionary or country.
From Tim Salley, Regional Director of the Pacific Region
AL & COLI ARGO: IPHC Missionaries to the Philippines: The A-Team is reporting in: Things are steadily improving in Cebu. More traffic in the streets, more fruit stalls opening, more testing, which is increasing numbers but helping officials pinpoint hotspots. This past week, at least one of our Life groups, with local government approval, was able to do food distribution to a hard-hit area.
At Life Church Cebu, we had three live online worship services for Mother’s Day. Each of our staff is also in weekly ongoing training to help with assimilation, outreach, discipleship, and relaunch once COVID-19 is over.
REV. CHRIS FRIEND: IPHC Australia national leader: Australia continues to see the lightening of some of the restrictions around COVID-19, which means that small groups can meet (up to 10 people) in some states. This does make ministry easier.
We also rejoice with our church in Melbourne, which was able to lease a new building this year. We are praying for them as the lockdown has caused some unexpected financial pressure on them. Nonetheless, in all of this, Jesus is good!
REV. WILLIAM PATRICK: IPHC Malaysia Chairman: The conditional movement control order (MCO) will be extended for another four weeks until June 9, says Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. In a live broadcast on Sunday (May 10), Muhyiddin noted that this was based on the sentiment of the people who wanted the government to continue to take precautions to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
REV. JAMES LIAN SAI: IPHC Myanmar national leader: UPDATE: Pastor Biak Lin Thang was released from jail on May 8th after five weeks. He also paid a $100 fine. Thank you very much for praying for his release.
On April 1, one of our pastors in Myanmar, Pastor Biak Lin Thang, was arrested in Hakha (Chin state) and put into jail for preaching the Gospel during the Coronavirus lockdown in Hakha. Pastor Thang was about to have a gospel camp in the outskirts of Hakha, in an isolated area. Someone reported him to the authorities, thus his arrest.
From Russell Board, WMM Regional Director of Continental Asia
SAMUEL FREEMAN, SRI LANKA
The government has lifted the curfew after two months. It seems to be a trial move, with a lot of instructions given to the public. Since yesterday, the postal departments and banks are open, and bus and train services are back to normal. I was able to visit our believers and pray with them. I was encouraged to hear their testimonies of how God is supplying their daily needs. Even with all the difficulties we are facing, still God is taking care of us. Thank you for your prayers.
VIJAY BALLA, BANGLADESH
Thank you very much for the funds sent to help our pastors and church members. We were able to bless all our pastors with some extra support and distribute groceries to 215 families at different churches. Our pastors did a great job in buying the groceries and packing and transporting them to all the churches in the midst of the lockdown situation. Thank you very much for this generous help. The entire IPHC of Bangladesh is thankful to you and WMM. Please continue to uphold our people in your prayers.
BISHOP MICHAEL JOHN, NORTH INDIA
The situation is growing worse as the government attempts to open some areas to migrant daily workers. Yesterday, the District Commissioner called a meeting of CEO of all NGO working in our district. They were happy with our efforts of relief but now want us to focus on migrant laborers who are coming back from big cities and provide them food and help them to start some small business of their own. They have also asked us to make teams and send them to surrounding villages for awareness program to distribute sanitizer and soaps, etc. The district administration is also sending us names and address to deliver groceries to people who do not have food. Another area that they want us to focus is to identify pregnant women and supply them with rations on a priority basis.
We are getting close to exhausting all our resources and funds in relief work. Praying for some more people to come forward to help. The lockdown is until the 17th of May right now, but it will definitely go until the end of May.
Yesterday, we got news from Pastor Shantial that this relief work has helped him to enter new areas, and at least four new families have come to the Lord.
The Executive Committee is extremely grateful for the support from WMM. It is an extremely challenging time for all of us, but we are confident that we will see a great opening for His kingdom in the days to come.
From Ron Wooten, Regional Director of Eastern/Sub-Saharan Africa
Prayer requests for the Eastern/Sub-Saharan Region:
- Along with COVID-19, we are experiencing heavy rain fall and flooding in many of our countries. The hardest hit areas are Eastern DR Congo, Western Kenya, and Burundi. We have several places where people have been evacuated from their homes and are living in schools and churches. Our church in Uvira, DRC, is a refugee center, and we have sent them funds to assist with feeding people who are sheltered there.
- I have recently heard from our leader in Assuit Egypt, Rev. Emil Saed. He confirmed that several members in our church there are sick with the Coronavirus. He did not say how many, just “several”, and that some were hospitalized. I recently sent some funds to assist them. Let’s be in prayer for this work and our people there. They are located in the southern region of Egypt.
- Due to government office being shutdown, we still have five missionary families living in Kenya who do not have work permits or visas. We are staying in touch through the government portals but have made no head way.
KEVIN & SUMMER SNEED – We have been keeping close to home. We are still homeschooling the kids a bit. Kevin has been helping cut fallen trees in the neighborhood after we sustained a freak hail storm last Friday. East Africa Bible College was supposed to open next week, but we will wait until the end of May at least to reopen to follow the government's directives.
MICHAEL & LESLIE TIGNOR - We are still helping our IPHC families with food, as many are unable to work right now. Our shelter in place order has become much more difficult. The government this week instituted a regulation that any time we needed to go out for essential goods, we had to send a message to a government office and wait for a time slot to be able to leave our house to get groceries, medicines, etc. The people are really complaining about this new regulation.
JAMIE & JESSICA DUNNING – Ethan had a birthday this week, and we packed the day with many activities, and he enjoyed it, even if he could not have a traditional party. We are still assisting with food packets to our churches in Kenya. We have been able to target new churches in the IPHC Kenya that we have not previously helped.
GREG & LATOYA MCCLERKIN – The McClerkins are on furlough right now. Greg has been battling sickness for a few days, but the last report we got noted that the medicines were finally helping, and the pain was subsiding. They are anxiously awaiting the quarantine to end so they can begin to visit churches again and finish their furlough.
MATTHEW & IRIS WONG – The Wongs are staying very connected to their Chinese community in Nairobi via different online platforms. Most of their people are very tech savvy, which is a blessing. They are continuing services via streaming and are doing their weekly Bible studies using Zoom. We spoke today, and they are doing well and have made the decision to try and stay in as much as possible. Pray for Enhua; she has been struggling with a sinus infection of some kind and has not felt well.
From Ron Roy, Regional Director of the Gulf of Mexico
Travel is restricted, and the shutdown will continue until the end of May and possibly beyond for certain parts of the country. Churches are not allowed to hold services. Most, if not all, are hosting online services. The drug cartel violence has increased.
Judy Perez was involved in a car accident. A lady ran a red light and hit her. When I spoke with her, she stated she was not injured, but her 15-year old car was totaled.
Gene Hancock reports that the shutdown has caused major problems for our churches. Some areas are facing possible starvation. We are monitoring the situation and formulating plans to verify and accumulate funds to send to the hardest-hit areas. Travel to/from Belize has been restricted.
At this point, all is holding steady. Services are held online. Travel has been restricted.
1) The violence and unrest
2) Belize outreach relief
From Bob Cave, Regional Director of Eurasia and the Middle East
First of all, I am grateful for the funds we were able to send out last Thursday to the various countries. I am hearing back that it was a “life saver” and, without the help, they had no other resource.
TURKEY: We were able to send the final $6,000 for the vehicle for Ismail Serinken and family. Max Barroso/The Awakening helped get a piece of TV equipment sent to Ismail. It is still hung up somewhere in the delivery system, so we pray that it will be released and arrive safe. As I mentioned, Ismail is getting about 1,000 live views during his online services now and 40,000 views on his Facebook page.
UKRAINE: Ukraine is operating where their total minimum monthly budget is about $10,000 to cover staff, minimum utilities, and the entire Barnabas operation. We were able to send $9,330 last week - PTL. We are also continuing to feed a larger than usual homeless crowd each day in an area not far from the mother church. In Krushinka, where we have the largest drug rehab center, the construction/renovation has not stopped, as the drug center men work on the project. The cost of the heating/air system is going to deplete their funds by September, so they will be in need of additional funds for this project of about $30,000.
ISRAEL: They are grateful for the financial assistance, as they still have not been able to put their men and women back to work. As I have posted, their emergency costs for feeding staff, drug rehab patients, and Holocaust survivors (about 300 persons) are close to $18,000 a month. We sent them $13,400 last week, so we are bridging a big gap. Their fund raising goal for May is $10,000 outside of the IPHC. Andrey Zaremba has been working with past donors to raise that amount. Living Israel is now asking about moving into other parts of Europe with them. I have put Harold Presley and the Miningers in touch in the Baltic States, so we should be able to do this in other European countries where they have contacts.
BETHLEHEM: Khader Khouri has now expanded his feeding outreach in his community to 250 family units. He and the church are getting good recognition throughout the area and greatly appreciate our assistance.
ROMANIA: Funds were sent to the Gypsy churches via the COVID-19 International Relief Fund and the Janssens. In addition, $2,000 was sent to our Peniel elderly home for the 90 patients they have there.
Ben and Marianne Janssen report:
We now have the info, artwork, and letters of the People to People orphans in Romania. The US couple that always helps us with that cannot go in May; so we requested that the secretary in the orphanage would do the work. She did a good job, but did not send the pictures, yet. When we have everything, we will send it to the People to People office.
They are waiting in Romania for us to come and teach. In the meantime, we are helping two Gypsy churches (Ocna and Jidvei) with some finances for food. The young ones are working in Germany to get the vegetables and fruits of the land and the older ones have not even flour to bake bread. We are thankful that we are healthy. We got another load of snow yesterday, but it is melting fast today.
THE GUTIERRES FAMILY (TURKEY): They are more restricted than some countries, as Turkey’s death toll rises. They were under a four-day lockdown last weekend, which will continue through Sunday night due to Ramadan. They have gone out to grocery shop and to walk during the “freedom” time. All other ministry is online.
From Russell Board, Regional Director of Continental Asia
RAEHA BUTLER, CHINA
American Airlines called to tell me that all the China-based flights were cancelled. Now I need to start from scratch to find flights home for furlough in June. Before I leave, I also need to find a place to store my stuff. Prayers that I can find flights home and wrap up all the loose ends before going home.
ALBERT & JIEP GONZALES, THAILAND
Our Thai church service was great. I shared about “Trusting Jesus Always”. It was taken from Matthew 11:28-30. As usual, our church services, Bible studies, and prayer meetings are being done through online group chat.
By the grace of God, Jiep, James, and I are doing well. The country will remain under a state of emergency until at least the end of May, with the overnight curfew and ban on social gatherings to continue with other restrictions. Thailand Coronavirus: 2,931 cases and 52 deaths.
I am sad to report that my younger brother, Pastor Lito Gonzales, just passed away from septic shock and organ failure. He was 60 years old. Please pray for his wife, Vers Gonzales, two daughters, and his son for comfort and strength at this time of difficulty. We praise God for my brother Lito, who is now with the Lord.
From Tim Salley, Regional Director for the Pacific Region
Douglas & Remy Barton: IPHC missionaries to the Philippines: Nothing new. Still in lockdown. God is still in charge and meeting needs and answering prayers!
Debra Crook: IPHC missionary to the Philippines & PTP Coordinator for Asia: Please pray for the Philippines president, Rodrigo Duterte. The insurgent groups the New People’s Army and Abu Sayyaf have killed 14 soldiers since the government has been dealing with the pandemic. President Duterte needs wisdom in knowing how to move forward to resolve this situation.
Al & Coli Argo: IPHC Missionaries to the Philippines: For Cebu, the lockdown is confirmed until May 15, 2020, with a possible extension to May 30th. Cases are going up with over 500 (200 of those in a local prison).
Here are six prayer requests.
1. Life Church Cebu, which is now six years old this month
2. Our sister and daughter churches including Light of The World Church, Intentional Christian Church, and other congregations across the Philippines
3. Filipino missionaries and OFW workers abroad
4. Our coming medical missionaries, Gladson, Rufina, and Charles, who are in medical school
5. More church plants, pastors, missionaries, souls, and outreach opportunities
6. The ABC team in Philippines (Argos, Bartons, and Crook)
SINGAPORE: From Tim & Beth Salley: The Singapore government has now extended the “circuit breaker” (local lingo for the lockdown) until June 1. Accordingly, restriction on movement has increased as well. Please keep praying for Tim’s Dad in Massachusetts. He has returned to the nursing home but appears to be failing as he is not eating and only sleeps. We are amazed at how our church pastors are leading during this time. We are proud of them as they are not focusing their members on the negative situations but are continually pointing their people to Christ and His promises.
UPDATE: We received word that Tim’s father passed away April 28, 2020. Please keep him and the Salley family in your thoughts and prayers.
AUSTRALIA: From IPHC Australia national leader, Rev. Chris Friend: We are in reverse COVID-19 mode. They’ve just increased wedding sizes from five to ten, which is good news as we have a wedding next month. But, how soon it increases is a good question. And we can launch small groups again this week.
MALAYSIA: From IPHC Malaysia Chairman, Rev. William Patrick: On 23rd April, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the movement control order (MCO) will be extended by another two weeks till 12th May. During this situation, an estimated 15,000 Rohingya refugees in certain areas may face hungry days ahead, as food aid from the government will only be made available to Malaysians. A source involved in distributing food to those residing around the Selayang wholesale market said the welfare department is expected to hand out rations to about 2,600 Malaysians there. On 23rd April, The Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) also cautioned policymakers about the huge cost that the MCO has had on the economy. MIER also stated that the MCO extension will cause two percent GDP growth contraction, warning of a deepening recession the think tank said in its 2020-21 economic outlook. Churches all over Malaysia are more united digitally than ever before. There are prayers, services, Christians getting together on a weekly basis, Bible studies, and other groups are all streamed online either live or recorded constantly. This helps many to continue growing and straightening their relationship with Him.
PHILIPPINES: From Philippines IPHC leader, Bishop Pepito Gadallo: We are praying that on May 1 we can travel even a short distance. The government is extremely strict; if you to travel to another town you are required to have a home quarantine for 14 days. So, it is difficult to move around. However, some churches have been able to help their members that live nearby, mainly with relief goods. The government is helping also. They are even giving cash help to the poorest of the poor. In some provinces, they have their usual Sunday service because they are COVID free. They just observe social distancing and proper hygiene.
INDONESIA: From Pastor J. Bintan, Indonesia: Last week Pastor J and a few church members distributed food relief to the poor and homeless on the streets of their city. They ministered to one 70-year-old lady named Bude. Her children have abandoned her, and she lives with her two young granddaughters. She collects rubbish and plastic off the streets for survival. She cried when Pastor J gave her the food relief package. Pastor J shared the Gospel with Bude, and she received Christ as her Savior!
MYANMAR: From IPHC Myanmar national leader Rev. James Lian Sai: On April 1, one of our Pastors in Myanmar, Pastor Biak Lin Thang, was arrested in Hakha (Chin state) and put into jail for preaching the Gospel during the coronavirus lockdown in Hakha. Pastor Thang was about to have a gospel camp in the outskirts of Hakha, in an isolated area. Someone reported him to the authorities, thus his arrest. He is currently in jail, and his court case will be heard on April 27. Our Myanmar national leader, Rev. James Sai, has contacted the Chin state chief of court and the chairman of the coronavirus control committee requesting that they release Pastor Thang with only a fine. Please pray for favor for Pastor Thang during the April 27 court hearing and for his release. Thank you.
UPDATE: Please keep praying for Pastor Thang. His court case has been postponed until Thursday, April 30th.
From Bishop Michael John (North India)
IPHC North India is demonstrating that our God is a God of hope and we are a place of hope. The situation is grave here with millions that have lost their jobs and are struggling to even find food even once in a day. We are grateful that our local churches have risen to the occasion and are reaching to their neighborhoods with grocery items. Many IPHC believers are donating rice and wheat to be distributed.
In Varanasi, believers, who themselves are in difficulty, donated 500 pounds of wheat and 200 pounds of rice to distribute.
One Narganjo family who has a small piece of land donated 100 pounds of rice, and it was distributed. We are seeing what we have never seen. People giving not because they have a lot but because they have been so moved by the need that they are ready to share.
Yesterday, one of our believers called and said his ten-year old daughter celebrated her birthday, and she received cash Rupees (Rs.) 3,000 ($40 USD) as birthday from her cousins. She wants to donate this fund to buy rice for three families so that they can survive ten more days. I was so amazed to hear it. Today we are going to buy groceries for three families that will keep them going. Senior citizens and kids are at the receiving end of this very difficult situation.
We are also grateful to WMM for standing along with us in this very crucial time to share the love of Jesus by becoming hands and feet of Jesus to our hurting community.
We have, to date, helped more than 400 families with grocery items. We are very happy to provide food on the plate for at least 1,000 people who live in these families for the last three weeks.
The need is huge, and we can make an impact if we all come together with whatever we can give.
I also consider this situation as a window for the IPHC to take the message of hope in the society for the society to see and experience who our God is. We are already hearing from our pastors of how people’s view of church is changing rapidly in all places.
Kindly keep praying as we all together do all we can to see His name be glorified. Please do remember our pastors who were fully dependent on weekly offerings to run their family and now they have no income with church being locked. We are trying our very best so that none whom we know should sleep hungry.
From Dr. Moses Kumar – South India
Greetings from South India!
By His grace, we are all doing well and staying safe so far. Thank you very much for your prayers and kind thoughts.
The first installment of help has been sent to all the pastors in Andhra Conference and Telangana Conference. When we are praying about the next installment of help, the money reached us just in time. We are so grateful for this great and generous help. Deep appreciation from all our pastors to you all and to the contributing churches/conferences in America. I learned from the video conversation between Bryan Nix and Doug Bartlett that about 34 countries are blessed so far through the COVID-19 International Relief Fund.
Though our mobility is strictly prohibited under the lock down, some of our pastors are able to reach out to their church members and their neighborhoods with practical help and generosity. This is the Lord, making it possible, and we are thankful for this phase of our experience. We have yet to hear from all about such relief activities. Also, there is a steady increase in the giving of my local church, and I believe it must be happening slowly in most of our churches - a move from nothing to something!
Some of the churches, which are able, are moving forward with ministering through Facebook, Zoom, and YouTube. Our church also is making progress in this area.
We are praying for you all, for all our churches in America, and other countries. Thank you once again for all your kindness and prayers.
Covid-19 Relief in India
From Bob Cave
Everyone in our main centers in Eurasia and the Middle East gives thanks for the Lord’s provision and strong hand upon us all. He does sustain and provide, and we give Him all the glory!
ROMANIA: The Bulzan family are all doing well and communicating via online with good results. The Peniel Elderly Home (mostly homeless persons with no families) was blessed this week by the IPHC COVID-19 Response Fund. We still need ongoing help for the nearly 100 persons that reside there.
TURKEY: Ismail Serinken and the family are doing well in spite of being on a four-day tight lockdown because of Ramadan. Ismail’s online presence is growing weekly with over 1,000 joining during a live broadcast, with testimonies from Bulgaria, Germany, and of course all over Turkey. He is getting great interaction from the Muslim community that ask many curious questions. His Facebook preaching and teachings have over 40,000 visits. As you know, we sent him a “SlingStudio” to move his online program from smartphone quality to HD TV quality.
The Gutierreses are doing fine but confined to home in Antalya for now.
UKRAINE: Bishop Valery Reshetinsky and Christian Hope Church are doing online services and a daily one-hour teaching.
There has been an increase in the homeless feeding. Our donations are making it possible to keep the Barnabas patients and staff, plus the mother church staff, fed during this crisis. As I mentioned, all of their daily operations are usually self-funded, but their local jobs have been temporarily lost.
In Krushinka, we are in the middle of a large renovation project (doubling the accommodation of our drug rehab center there). The work is moving forward. They will have a snag later this summer, as they need to install a heating system that will handle the whole building and need $30,000 to do that. The old system is wood heat, and they will need to upgrade by September.
ISRAEL: They have had some tight lockdowns, especially over Easter and Passover. They are still feeding 140 persons daily in the drug rehab locations, plus their 300 Holocaust survivors and elderly persons. We are so thankful for the IPHC COVID-19 International Relief Fund and additional donations that have kept everyone fed this past month. Of course, the drug rehab program “was” self-supporting until the ministry lost all their support jobs. They hope that as soon the country opens up again they will be back up and running depending on the job market.
A BIG thanks to all who committed to a month ($4,000) for our Tel Aviv Coffee House/feeding center. It has made a big difference.
BETHLEHAM, PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES: Pastor Khader Khouri and his small church have now been able to reach 250 Muslim families with donations from the IPHC COVID-19 International Relief Fund. The local mayor has personally thanked Khader and gave him some more names of families in urgent need. This has enhanced a positive profile of the IPHC church in a predominantly Muslim community. What an example to all our churches to reach out!
From Russell Board
BISHOP MICHAEL JOHN, NORTH INDIA: With financial help from WMM, we are reaching out to our community with the love of Jesus. Rice and other food items are being distributed. Our church people are also coming forward and donating for this ministry. One food packet is costing us $7. This food will sustain a family of five for a week. We are planning to distribute at least 3,000 packets in one month.
The situation is serious with people having not eaten for four or five days at a stretch because people have lost their jobs and most of them do not have any spare money to support themselves in this lockdown period. We are very sure that God will enable us to make a difference in the lives of people.
This is also a great opportunity to show what we stand for to our society. We go with His love, and His grace will touch people as we interact with the hopeless people.
BISHOP MOSES KUMAR, SOUTH INDIA: We are so grateful to People to People and all the leadership at WMM for your financial assistance through the COVID-19 International Relief Fund. The money reached us just in time. We are so grateful for this great and generous help. Deep appreciation from all our pastors to the contributing churches/conferences in America.
Though our mobility is strictly prohibited under the lock down, some of our pastors are able to reach out to their church members and their neighborhoods with practical help and generosity. This is the Lord making it possible, and we are thankful for this phase of our experience. Also, there is a steady increase in the giving of my local church, and I believe it must be happening slowly in most of our churches - a move from nothing to something!
Some of the churches which are able are moving forward with ministering through Facebook, Zoom, and YouTube. Our church also is making progress in this area.
We are praying for you all, for all our churches in America, and other countries. Thank you once again for all your kindness and prayers.
MERLEN LAMANILAO, NATIONAL MISSIONARY, CAMBODIA: Roads into and out of Phnom Penh have reopened. Schools and churches are still closed until further notice. Travel bans remain in effect for six countries.
CHINA AND SOUTH KOREA: It seems that Korea and China have passed the peak. The number of daily confirmed Coronavirus cases has dropped. None of our church members, in either country, are infected; thank the Lord.
Urban churches are still struggling with finances.
The hardship is everywhere around the world. We pray that God will bless and protect IPHC ministries.
From Tim Salley
This week, one of our pastors in Myanmar, Pastor Biak Lin Thang, was arrested in Hakha (Chin state) and put into jail for preaching the Gospel during the Coronavirus lockdown in Hakha. Pastor Thang was about to have a gospel camp in the outskirts of Hakha, in an isolated area. Someone reported him to the authorities, thus his arrest. He is currently in jail, and his court case will be heard on April 27. Our Myanmar national leader, Rev. James Sai, has contacted the Chin state chief of court and the chairman of the Coronavirus control committee requesting that they release Pastor Thang with only a fine. Please pray for favor for Pastor Thang during the April 27 court hearing and for his release.
The Pacific Region – Tim Salley, Regional Director
Douglas & Remy Barton: IPHC missionaries to the Philippines: We are doing great, as always. God has not and will not abandon us, so we just trust Him day by day. Rumors are that we may face a total lock down from tomorrow (April 21) for two weeks. President Duterte is supposed to make an announcement tonight. Remy's brother-in-law is hoping to get a permit tomorrow morning to go into Tarlac City to buy medicines and other necessities - like quarter pounders, cheeseburgers, peanut butter, etc. - The necessary stuff!!
Debra Crook: IPHC missionary to the Philippines & PTP Coordinator for Asia: Things are the same in Baguio. They have now found a softy arrest for people breaking quarantine (hand cuff, take to a holding area, and lecture), plus delivery trucks smuggling people in... their Facebook page is always interesting. Otherwise, life goes on.
Al & Coli Argo: IPHC Missionaries to the Philippines: Cases in Cebu City are rising. A community close to Life Church Cebu is in the news as it has the greatest number of new cases this week. We are trying to devise ways to get cash or food into that area for our members and to outlying islands reaching out for help. It is hard for us to get to the bank due to strict guidelines on travel. Prayers appreciated.
MALAYSIA: From IPHC Malaysia Chairman Rev. William Patrick: Ever since the extension of the movement control order (MCO) took place last week, we do see a reduction in the rate of positive cases (below 100 cases daily) for the past week. The national health minister suggests that Malaysia may have experienced its peak and is now in the recovery phase. Close to 15,000 individuals were detained for defying the MCO in Malaysia. Of the 14,922 people who have been detained, 5,830 have been charged in court and are serving their sentence. Many Malaysians applaud the authorities for taking such actions. The extension of the MCO has caused the needs of the people to increase tremendously. Many organizations are running out of funds to assist the families and individuals, especially the local marginalized poor and immigrants from Myanmar, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, and other nationals. By God’s grace, several IPHC Malaysia churches are continuing to do their best to serve their members and others within the community by providing for their needs despite the shortage of funds.
AUSTRALIA: From IPHC Australia national leader Rev. Chris Friend: Australia has managed to get ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic with new cases now being reported at lower levels than existed four weeks ago. Only 71 people have died to date (nationwide). As such, it sounds like our churches will be allowed to meet again in about one month’s time. In the meantime, we continue to find new ways to connect with our church members and outreach to the lost and the marginalized. I am proud of how our pastors, leaders, and members have stepped up during this difficult season.
PHILIPPINES: From Philippines IPHC leader Bishop Pepito Gadallo: We are very thankful to the Lord because He is continuously covering us with His power and goodness. Of course, there are some who are complaining and requesting for additional food supplies. We have had one person in the Greater Manila Conference test positive for Coronavirus. Praise the Lord, he is now recovered!!
INDONESIA: From Pastor C., Bali, Indonesia: The Lord Jesus has been moving mightily in Indonesia during the Coronavirus. Here are some highlights from the last month since the pandemic has started here:
- Our church members in Lombok have been ministering to several Muslim people through prayer. As a result, five have received Christ and one has been baptized in water.
- In Negara, our members are getting more opportunities to pray for the sick and encourage those who are hopeless.
- In Tabanan, God has increased the number attending our house church by ten people. Two people from Hindu background have received Jesus as Savior.
- In Tampak Siring, four people have received Jesus and have joined our house church.
- Two Muslims and one Hindu have begun to attend our cell groups in Denpasar.
At the beginning of the pandemic, we had a total of ten cell groups. One month later, we now have twelve. Next week, we will have fifteen cell groups, as we need to divide due to too many people in some of the groups. We find many people really seeking God in this situation. Please continue to pray that God will end the pandemic soon. We praise the Lord for the harvest during this time!
Singapore: From Tim & Beth Salley: Thank you for praying for Beth’s Mom. She is much better now after about a week of a high fever. Thankfully, she tested negative for Coronavirus. Please keep praying for Tim’s Dad in Massachusetts. He has tested positive for Coronavirus and has been in the hospital for ten days. He is breathing on his own and seems to be improving. He must test negative before he can return to the nursing home. We continue to stay in contact with our national leaders in the Pacific region. We know that God is in control, and we trust that the Lord will work all this out for our good and for the good of the Church.
From Russell Board, Regional Director of Continental Asia
HIRO & ERYN BAMBA, JAPAN
Additional cities and prefectures have taken measures to restrict travel and curtail business operations in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19. We are following home-confinement instructions. We are all well, thank the Lord. Our church continues to meet online. We have cancelled our regular children’s English classes through the month of April.
RAEHA BUTLER, CHINA
I had a very nice Easter, as about a dozen of us met together to sing and share and eat Easter dinner together. It was very nice and lasted pretty much the entire day.
Now, elementary, middle, and high schools are staggering going back to school. Universities and private schools (like mine) still have no start dates in discussion. In some areas, there has been backlash against foreigners, who are suspected of bringing the virus back into the country. Government propaganda blames the US for intentionally planting the virus in China originally.
House church pastors are finding creative ways to meet, such as small clusters in parks to look as though they are there to allow the kids to play.
ALBERT & JIEP GONZALES, THAILAND
Our church Easter service was awesome. The message I shared was “We rejoice in celebrating Easter together.” As usual, we had our service through online group chat. Glory to God! We are still doing online Bible studies from Monday to Thursday and Saturday, with prayer meetings on Friday.
The mandated lockdown until April 30 is still in effect. By the grace of God, we are all doing well. I had my COVID-19 test on April 9th at Bumrungrad International Hospital. Praise the Lord everything went well.
Please pray for the reopening of business establishments within two months, as many people, including our Filipino brethren (teachers and musicians), have no jobs.
CHASE & KRISTINA, NEPAL
We are doing well. Our lockdown has been extended until April 28th. We now have had several COVID-19 cases confirmed in Patan hospital not far from us, so many are panicking in our area.
Our primary prayer request is that we are able to distribute funds as they are needed, and that the pastor in charge of distribution will be protected from harm as he travels to the churches. We are SO THANKFUL for People to People sending funds to help in the relief! It’s such a hard time for Nepal and the world, but God is using the church here as an extension of His love to the people who don’t know Him!
Mercy is doing well. She has many neighborhood kids that come over to play each afternoon. Because our neighborhood is on strict lockdown, all the parents are allowing the kids to play together. We are doing homeschooling through an app for a Christian school in America, and we have been able to make amazing progress with Mercy’s vocabulary and reading.
MERLEN LAMANILAO, NATIONAL MISSIONARY, CAMBODIA
The government cancelled the Cambodia New Year celebration. All roads into and out of Phnom Penh were blocked with no advance notice. I am unable to visit the churches in the provinces, but there is no total lockdown in the city at this point. Churches are unable to meet, except through Facebook. Kezia’s school continues to hold online classes.
BISHOP MICHAEL JOHN, NORTH INDIA
We have received notice from the government that our organization is required to contribute towards the relief work in our ministry area. We also must submit a detailed report of our activities on the 15th of each month. We are using the relief funds received from WMM to fulfill this responsibility. The government is expecting us to do more. We are trying to encourage our pastors to try to raise some funds locally to feed the hungry. The situation is very bad with people only receiving food one time.
The lockdown in India is extended to May 3rd. This will create a huge challenge for our people. We are very grateful to WMM for your help and support. We don't lose hope because He is still on throne, and we will come out stronger once this is over.
BISHOP MOSES KUMAR, SOUTH INDIA (Read Bishop Kumar's article in the April issue of Encourage.)
We are praying for you and for all our churches in America and other countries. We are praying for His mercy and supernatural intervention and for restoration to normalcy. The lock-down for three weeks is further extended up to May 3rd. All were thrust into an unprepared situation. Anyway, people are drawn to the Lord and learning to trust Him more.
Just a few days ago, the whole area of Maruter (our first mission station) was under red alert, as several COVID-19 cases were identified. With this, most of our pastors and church members in Andhra Conference were under severe lock-down restrictions. In Telangana Conference also, we were all isolated.
The financial situation of the churches is worst hit, as all the members are affected, with no work and no earnings. The giving in the churches is almost totally paralyzed with the present crisis. Thank you for the financial help extended to us earlier. We appreciate any possible help for this unforeseen situation, as we require $5,000 more. We have to borrow this immediately from any available source. Our prayers are with you.
SAMUEL FREEMAN, SRI LANKA
The government has declared curfew all over the island for many weeks except for a few districts. We, too, have a curfew, but it is lifted for a few hours so that the public can go out and buy groceries and dry rations. We stay in touch with the church believers by phone. It is heartbreaking as they have no source of income to feed their families.
We know it is not and never will be the heart of God for this nation or any nation to suffer with this kind of spreading virus. We, children of God, believe we have authority to stand against it and release the presence of Jesus to bring life and more abundantly.
From Harold Presley, Regional Director of Northwest Europe
A newsworthy update on the extra care and outreach Matt & Femke (mostly Femke) Helland are doing among the red-light district workers. Matt & Femke Helland have stretched and expanded their ministry so that now the Gospel and practical care is reaching sex-workers from Amsterdam throughout the whole of Holland. They are:
- Providing weekly meals that are cooked and distributed to needy families
- Distributing food vouchers
- Working with new believers who are helping cook and sharing the gospel
As a result, more sex-workers are responding to the gospel AND turning away from the "industry."
Tim Salley, Regional Director of the Pacific Region
DOUGLAS & REMY BARTON, IPHC missionaries to the PHILIPPINES: Nothing is different – we are still in lockdown, and God is still present with us. We had a good service on Easter Sunday on our porch. Since Good Friday, I am also putting a short word on Facebook each day. Remy's parents will celebrate their 67th wedding anniversary this week!
DEBRA CROOK, IPHC missionary to the PHILIPPINES & PTP Coordinator for Asia: Hello to all. We are doing okay in the Baguio Highlands and grateful that each of you are well. Where I am now living there is a big space to maintain, so I have plenty of time to pray. I am thankful for good reports from the countries where we have a PTP presence; God is protecting them.
AL & COLI ARGO, IPHC missionaries to the PHILIPPINES: Life Church Cebu celebrated six years of ministry on Easter Sunday with IPHC church planter to NYC, Brian Farley, as a special virtual speaker. I also wrote an Easter poem I would like to share.
Watch, Listen, and Pray - Al Argo
On this lovely Easter morn,
We rejoice that Christ was born.
And then he suffered, and he died,
As he was brutally crucified.
He conquered death, hell, and the grave,
Now I’m free. No more a slave.
He took the keys of death and hell,
Now I’m a son, no need for bail.
He paid it all, all the debt I owed.
My burden is gone, of this I know.
We rejoice that He has risen; we have no need for a hell filled prison.
Happy Easter to all, and to all a great day,
As we continue to watch, listen, and pray.
PAKISTAN from National Leader, Rev. ASHER MANSHA: We can feel fear in the society like never in my life. I am not in fear, but our area is sealed by the law enforcement agencies. We are now in 100% lockdown; no one can go out unless it is to get water, food, or if someone is trying to bring food to help others. We don’t know how long it will be like this. We are trying our best to help God’s people during this lockdown, but the situation is getting worse. I have asked ten churches in our church network to come forward and lead with our ministry in FRONT now, as people need Hope and Help.
I am taking a #YouAreNotAlone Initiative, to provide Hope and Help to as many families as we can in Pakistan. I want to highlight that most families are daily wage people and can’t provide any food for themselves. May God enable all of us to be the Hope and Help for these precious families who trust God. Thank you so much. We trust God.
MALAYSIA from IPHC Malaysia Chairman, Rev. WILLIAM PATRICK: The nationwide lockdown has now been extended to April 28. This means that the marginalized poor, immigrants, and national workers will be negatively impacted by this move. By His grace, several IPHC Malaysia churches are doing their best to serve their members including providing for physical needs. Many have started daily prayer meetings online. We also see many members are strengthening their relationship with God. More and more pastors and leaders are embracing changes using technology to reach their people. We believe this use of technology will grow and increase and will help us reach many more people for Christ even after the crisis is over.
AUSTRALIA from IPHC national leader, Rev. CHRIS FRIEND: We are three weeks in to the COVID-19 lockdown, and we are adjusting to the new world. It has increased both the digital and analogue worlds. Digital, in the sense of online mediums, and analogue, as we rely on mail to post out packs for kids and online newsletters to those who don’t have access to the internet. In all of this, with the joy of Easter, we are reminded that Jesus has overcome it all!
MYANMAR from IPHC Myanmar national leader, Rev. JAMES LIAN SAI: Even though there is no total lockdown, there are restrictions on church services. Every church service is done only at home. But by God's grace, our orphanage worship is still held in their hall. Our church staff meets at the campus office and our families at home. Pastor Moses Buma, one of our church planters living in Moko, Mandalay division, has reported that he baptized 12 young people last week. Praise the Lord for this fruit in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ!!
PHILIPPINES from IPHC leader, Bishop PEPITO GADALLO: As of this time, no reported COVID case in our churches. Praise God. We are still praying fervently. Because of the extension of our quarantine, up to April 30, our executive board meeting will be moved towards the end of May. We are thankful that some of our churches were able to live stream Easter Sunday services. We will continue to preach the Word of God!
INDONESIA from Pastor C., Bali, Indonesia: Mr. Sutrisno is a Muslim. He lost his job due to COVID-19. He came to our micro business and asked for a job so that he can eat and have a place to sleep. We hired him and provided him with meals, a place to stay, and a small salary. He is so happy that we welcomed him and helped him. Today, he joined our Good Friday service in one of our cell groups. He testified that he felt peace and joy inside him. Glory to God!! In addition, a Muslim lady living in Lombok who recently gave her heart to Christ was baptized on Easter Sunday!!
From Regional Director Joe Delport, SOUTHERN AFRICA Region
Greetings from South Africa. Maggie and I keep up with the news worldwide as much as possible regarding COVID-19. We pray for our wonderful family and friends in the US often as we hear the epidemic is still spiking in different areas. We are also staying in contact with our missionaries and leaders of the region. In South Africa, the lockdown has been extended for another two weeks (until the end of April). We pray for peace, as there are thousands of people already being affected by not having an income, as many live from hand to mouth. This week, people in the Johannesburg area stormed a grocery store and looted it. This might happen more often as people become desperate. "A hungry man is an angry man" as the saying goes.
Maggie is doing well after having the angiogram, although she still has some discomfort. The doctor told her not to do strenuous work for a week to allow the incision to heal and the artery to restore. Thank you so much for your prayers. We truly believe that God performed a miracle. Hundreds of people were praying, and God heard their prayers.
Thank you for your prayers concerning our missionaries and national church all over the world during the COVID-19 epidemic. As long as we focus on Jesus, there will be peace in the midst of the storm.
From Regional Director Ron Wooten, EASTERN/SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
Through our missionaries, many hundreds, possibly thousands, have been assisted in felt ways in this crisis already. The US Embassies are sending out letters for people to consider leaving the region and are even working with the different governments to open the closed air space laws to allow flights for US citizens. As far as I know, none of our people are interested in leaving at this point.
RON & SHARON WOOTEN are doing very well. We have continued providing food assistance and sometimes funds. Just this week, we have purchased about 1,000 kg of maize and some beans, rice, and other staple foods. Bags of rice have been dispersed to churches, bishops, and to individuals. I have been in touch with all our eastern Africa leaders and plan to send some financial assistance for them to distribute food to their communities. This is only the beginning, but we are committed to help as much as we can as long as our resources last. This is being supported through personal funds, our ministry funds, and the local IPHC International Church we lead here in Nairobi. Sharon and I are preaching and teaching weekly for the local church in Nairobi and making it available to all our pastors and leaders to share in their churches via YouTube and Facebook live. Pray that we can get our work permits renewed. As of April 3, 2020, they have expired.
GAILYA LIST is doing very well. She has agreed to stay in-home during this time of quarantine, but she is not enjoying it. We (Sharon & Ron) have asked her to come and stay with us in our apartment, but she still wants to be in her place and still reaches and assists people on a daily basis. She is completely frustrated that she cannot get out and cannot do her weekly ministry. Please pray we can get Gailya’s work permit renewed.
KEVIN & SUMMER SNEED – Things are still calm in Eldoret even though we now have our first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the city. So far, this is the only one, and she came into the town from the Eldoret airport after arriving from the UK via Nairobi airport. She has been in isolation since arriving and tested positive on Tuesday. Summer is suffering with a bacterial infection, but thankfully we have a new and reliable clinic just about two miles from our house, so we do not have to go into town for treatment. The kids and I are doing great. As of today, we have distributed over 100 masks and hand sanitizers to our ministry staff, their families, and some elderly people in our community. We have more to distribute to church members and others in the community in the coming days.
The last portion of the stone wall is underway at the East Africa Bible College. The footing will be poured tomorrow, and the stonework will begin on Monday. We should have enough funds on hand to finish the stonework. But, we will need more funds to install the metal grates on the upper part of the wall. The only other work being done at the school is on the farm and in the kitchen.
MICHAEL & LESLIE TIGNOR - We are helping our IPHC families with food, as many are unable to work right now. This week began Kwibuka, which is a time of remembrance for the genocide against the Tutsi. It lasts for 100 days each year. Normally each community would gather and share, but this year that is not possible. They are using radio and television instead. The cases of those with COVID-19 are still low and have been traced back to the first ones that had it. We are all well.
JAMIE & JESSICA DUNNING are doing great and working to keep the kids entertained, as well as keeping up with their school assignments. They are getting out in the coffee fields close to their house and have done some day hikes to a forest that is close to them. Jamie is spearheading a project to prepare food kits for families that will provide a family several meals plus some staples to keep them going. They successfully dispersed over 350 relief kits this past week through pastors and other helpers. The kits cost about $7.50 each, and the whole family is working to put them together. They will then disperse them through creative means to get them to many of their churches. They have also done PTP payouts to pastors, children’s centres, and schools to assist families during this tough time.
From Interim Regional Director Max Barroso, SOUTH AMERICA Region
Overall, the situation in South America is very similar in regards to the measures being taken by the local governments. Strict quarantine measures, closed borders, limited movement (only to secure essentials) are in place. Every country has reported both positive tests and deaths. On April 7th, we had a regional gathering with all the Conference Superintendents via Zoom to pray and intercede together. The Lord is moving and opening doors to minister and share hope; however, the needs of our faith family in South America are significant. Most of our congregations are daily wage earners. This has made it virtually impossible for them to make a living and provide for their families. Pastoral families remain a primary concern. The South American Bible Institute in Buenos Aires, Argentina has been requested by the governmental authorities to serve as an ambulatory clinic. The opening date was April 10th, and the church has already been notified that as long as the state of emergency is in place, they will need to use the facilities for that purpose.
Missionary Personnel: Regarding stateside missionary personnel (Bickets, Nichols, and Allison Jones), they are all at their homes in the States continuing their itineration process. The Deatons are in Florida and just returned from the field in Peru. Currently on the field, we have four missionary families: the Hellands in Brazil, the Hodges in Peru, the Lucanos in Bolivia, and the Wests in Peru. Collectively, their general situation is very similar to the March 25, 2020 report.
They are developing digital content and continuing their efforts to assist their communities and faith family when possible.
The Hodges provided this testimony from Peru this week: “We have had a few miracles over the internet! One young lady that was fearful of going to the hospital was bleeding internally and urinating blood. We prayed, and it totally dried up. She is in perfect health now. Another young man that was showing signs of the virus is totally healed. He was tested, and there is no virus. Another family, where the entire family was sick and fearful of what it may be, did online communion with us and then woke up the next morning and everybody was totally fine.”
We are thankful to the Lord that he has providentially positioned our faith family to be salt and light in the midst of this situation. We have a strong church in South America. We are believing for significant fruit to come out of all the efforts put forth!
Our primary concern in the region at this moment remains that many pastoral families are in a very fragile financial situation. With the churches being closed and no possibility to get out of their houses and work, most of the superintendents already reported many of our pastors going through a time of need. We now have multiple requests for assistance (logistical, humanitarian, and infrastructural). The Lord has always shown Himself faithful as His people step forth to answer the call. We in the IPHC family in South America remain resolute to be a place of hope and people of promise, as we navigate through COVID-19 and beyond.
From JAMIE & JESSICA DUNNING, IPHC Missionaries to KENYA
We have distributed 350 qty COVID-19 relief kits to families in vulnerable communities through our partner leaders and pastors around Nairobi, as well as provided food relief to 700 households in the Tana River Delta. This support has been greatly appreciated by our partners, as well as by the families that have received them. We were able to fund these projects through funds in our Ministry account, a contribution from Ron Wooten, as well as the generous contribution of $1,100 made via the COVID-19 International Relief Fund.
As COVID-19 is just beginning to ramp up in Kenya, many of the challenges our people will be facing are just beginning. These include increases in food prices, unemployment due to government restrictions on movement and businesses, and lack of resources to keep one’s family safe and avoid potential infection. The relief kits are designed to address all of these needs by providing food, hand soap, hand-made cloth masks, and information regarding health and safety precautions. The cloth masks are purchased from a partner ministry sewing project, giving these women additional work during these tough times.
In the coming weeks, we want to be in a position to respond more quickly to the future needs of our partners and communities through the distribution of kits, as well as funds to our partners, pastors, churches, and feeding programs that are outside of the greater Nairobi area, as the government has restricted movement in, to, or out of Nairobi. Each kit currently costs $7.50.
From TIM SALLEY, Regional Director of The Pacific
DOUGLAS & REMY BARTON, IPHC missionaries to the PHILIPPINES: We are doing great. We had our third worship service with the four families again. We have had a different speaker each Sunday. The music is always good. This is usually posted on our FB page, if you want to check it out. Our meat market man still comes on a regular basis to bring meat and veggies, as requested. I have completed the annotated outline for Joshua - Ruth and will begin 1st Samuel this week. Prayer request: [We are concerned that a monthly source of income for] Ethan may have come to an end. It is a huge amount to lose currently. Please pray with us that this will be extended. Thanks!
DEBRA CROOK, IPHC missionary to the PHILIPPINES & PTP Coordinator for Asia: Status quo here; each week gets more stringent on restrictions in my area. We are now allowed to go out one day a week only. They just keep trying to adjust because of the number of people in grocery stores at one time and long queues going in. They are still in discussions of extending beyond April 13th but nothing is official yet. I’m doing ok. I’m blessed to have one of my best friends, who is a doctor, and goes out frequently. She picks up a few items for me (I have a running tab). I continue to message/email areas for PTP, and they are all doing ok.
AL & COLI ARGO, IPHC Missionaries to the PHILIPPINES: We are finishing our third week of quarantine and first full week of mandatory (and stricter) lockdown. To help celebrate the Life Church Cebu’s 6th anniversary, we are asking members and former special guest speakers to submit videos, which we will post daily for the month of April to the Life Church Facebook page. Our end of April trip to the USA has been cancelled and Journey House said Emirates is not offering a refund but will let us rebook once Dubai has reopened. We continue daily online ministry and all is well.
PAKISTAN: From IPHC Pakistan National Leader, Rev. ASHER MANSHA: Christians that went to a Muslim relief organization were told they must first become Muslim. One group of three Christian ladies said, “We can’t trade Jesus name with your religion; we believe in Jesus forever” and then they left. Christians face discrimination from the majority; and during this lockdown, we as churches must respond to our people. We have thousands of families who need help. That is the reason I am trying day and night to endeavor to help Christians.
MALAYSIA: From IPHC Malaysia Chairman, Rev. WILLIAM PATRICK: In Malaysia, we are still under lockdown until April 18th. Whether the lockdown will be lifted or not depends on the number of cases detected by the Health ministry. COVID-19 cases have increased to 3,400 plus, with deaths amounting to 64 persons, and the search for some specific group that is suspected of carrying the virus is going on. Due to this, it looks like the lockdown might be extended. The authorities allow only one representative to go out to buy necessities; hence, we don't have any issues purchasing items for daily needs.
Concerning the Palm Sunday worship, most churches are using multimedia to connect. The church, as a whole, abides by the lockdown rules and laws very well, and this goes for IPHC Malaysia as well.
As of now, the IPHC Malaysian churches are doing fine and joined all other churches in daily prayer. All IPHC churches are taking care of the needs of their respective members and The Life Harvest Assembly, headed by Pastor Raymond Yap, is also helping the Myanmar migrants who are part of his church.
Abundant Life Center (Pastor Satthy and I) had taken the responsibility to head the food bank operation to help the underprivileged community in our district.
AUSTRALIA: From IPHC Australia national leader, Rev. CHRIS FRIEND: COVID-19 continues to cause concern in Australia, with local churches having to revert to online services, phone calls, and other methods of pastoral care. We continue to see God moving through these methods and other areas of outreach towards those in need. Our prayers are with those who are suffering, those who are reaching out to those in need, and with the extended IPHC family around the world.
SINGAPORE: From TIM & BETH SALLEY: Measures to try and control the coronavirus have been implemented in phases by the Singapore government since the first of February, when cases started to appear here. Each phase has brought the city closer to measures put in place by other countries. Today, April 7, begins a four-week time of the “circuit breaker,” so-called by the government. Schools are now closed, and non-essential businesses are closed. Restaurants are take-out only. But public transportation is available, and grocery stores are open. There is still freedom to go outside of your house to exercise. Churches have been closed for two weeks already. Zoom is becoming very popular for prayer meetings and other ministry opportunities.
PHILIPPINES: From Philippines IPHC leader, Bishop PEPITO GADALLO: Generally, we are okay, thank God. No report has been given that our PPHC people are infected with the coronavirus, but still [we pray] for the continuous covering of the Lord. We had an executive board meeting scheduled for April 15th, but I am contemplating moving the meeting to April 29th or May 6th. We are still praying. They just announced a lockdown until 11:59pm on April 30, 2020.
From HAROLD PRESLEY, Regional Director of Northwest Europe
Although everyone can see the news updates, let me point out that now UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has been hospitalized with COVID-19. This has all the UK’s attention. I am happy to report that IPHC UK leader, Bishop JOHN AGBENORTO, is home from hospital. He is still very weak, but on the mend.
All of our leaders in NW Europe are busier than ever although “locked down”. For example, MATT & FEMKE HELLAND are feeding 100 people each week from the red-light district of Amsterdam, which has been a large focus of their evangelism prior to this pandemic. They also raised funds for food vouchers for families and assist in a text message outreach to 8,000 people. The results are more people leaving the sex-trade and turning to Jesus.
TODD & STEPHANIE PRESLEY have seen a distinct increase in receptivity within their outreach circles in Wales. They have been more involved with one to one prayer and counsel, as well as food baskets to vulnerable families.
LEMUEL TURNER conducted the funeral of a lady who fell victim to COVID-19. Fortunately, he led this same lady to Jesus about one year ago. They have been volunteering at the hospital and raising funds for personal protective equipment (PPEs) and other needs in the local health services.
Like everyone else, BILL & GRETCHEN SCHWARTZ have ramped up the online outreach. They have seen as many as 1,400 people viewing one gospel presentation, and the majority of those are within their target country of Belgium.
LARRY & DEBBIE MININGER have a few cases in the region of the Baltic States and Finland. However, the economic lack has been tough. They sent funds to help the two rehab centers in Tallinn, Estonia. Already with 50 men in house, the rehab has been asked to take in women as well. Not sure how that’s going to work.
MARK MCCLUNG purchased an e-bicycle to aid his evangelism efforts from the area of Eupen, Belgium, all the way down to Luxembourg in a one-to-one, safe-distancing fashion. He hasn’t made it as far as Luxembourg yet, but that’s the trek with a lot of park environments along the way. JEANNIE continues to reach out to the sex-traffic community via phone and text, but all other avenues are restricted.
Other areas in NW Europe seem less affected. Sweden has the most lax approach, but cases and deaths are beginning to rise now.
We pray and catch-up with our pastors and missionaries via Zoom meetings.
From ERNEST TURNER, Regional Director of West Africa
We are, indeed, living in a challenging season. Due to circumstances, there are many things that we are doing at this point that we have not done before. One, that I miss the most, is being able to sit down ‘eyeball to eyeball and toe to toe’ with our leaders in West Africa and not only hear the words that they are speaking, but ‘hear their hearts.’ It is hard to do that with a text message, an email, or even a phone call. That being said, I am hearing from our leaders frequently via phone, text, or email. I am trying to rotate on a daily basis through each country in my region.
SIERRA LEONE | I’ve just heard from our IPHC leader in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Rev. SANTIGIE KHARGBO. While our work here is small, we do have a nice size church and school in Freetown, the capital city.
Schools and churches in this country have all been closed. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to not only find food, but purchase it, as the prices are increasing astronomically. It would be great if we could get some assistance from People to People, as we have had in the past. I have managed to get $200.00 to them in order to purchase some cleaning materials like soap and sanitizers. They are very thankful, but also let me know it was not enough. They need monies for the teachers at our school that no longer have an income and church members that are in need of some rice and beans. Their situation is quite dire and $600.00 would be of some help.
LIBERIA | This weekend I heard from HABAKKUK GIAH in Monrovia, Liberia. Our churches and schools in Monrovia have all been closed, as well as the surrounding regions around the capital. Some of the churches in the more rural areas are still meeting, but are finding it difficult to purchase basic commodities like rice and cleaning materials. Cleaning materials during this crisis have become so important and are now extremely expensive. Here is an excerpt from his message:
“The IPHC Monrovia, Liberia, community school, and all churches are closed down due to the situation.
I am also appealing to you, as we are all concerned about the health situation, to please help us during this time as we are in need of the following:
- Financial assistance for our church pastors and members
- Some cleaning alcohol, hand sanitizer, soaps, etc.
Please be informed also that the school has twelve (12) staffers. Please be informed that, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, our members are safe and nobody has contracted the virus, as we continue to follow preventative and precautionary measures. I am going to do my best, by the grace of God, to visit some of our more rural churches. Thanks for your concern as well, as we keep praying and being in touch daily.”
While he does not mention it in his note, there is a strong security presence in the streets of the capital city, Monrovia. Pastors are trying to stay in touch with their congregations via cell phones, as most of them do not have access to computers. They are using cell phones, but are not able to stream their church services online. Data there is very slow and expensive.
Habakkuk is requesting some financial assistance to cover the teachers that have lost their employment at our church related school. This will also help with cleaning supplies, sanitizers, chlorine, soap, etc.
We also need to keep in mind that in societies where people are living from hand-to-mouth, food supersedes all other needs, and cleaning materials become luxury items. It would be wonderful if we could raise $1,000.00 to assist the Liberian church with some of their most pressing needs.
GHANA| One of our church leaders in Ghana reports:
“We are managing here in Ghana. We’ve been ordered to keep indoors for two weeks. Churches cannot meet. We communicate via electronic means. But, generally, we are doing well. The Church will come out of this stronger than before. This virus is something that we cannot explain, but it will turn out to be for our good. We believe in the God we serve. He will rescue us.
Stay protected and safe in the shadow of the cross. You are in our prayers; and we are grateful to you for your prayers and support over the years. We are blessed indeed to have you as our brothers in the Lord.”
I believe we will not only come through this spiritually stronger, but also numerically stronger. Many people are being drawn to the Lord by the Holy Spirit during this season, and we thank God for what He is doing in Ghana.
We have also spoken to the IVORY COAST, TOGO, and NIGERIA. While the situation is very similar to Liberia and Sierra Leone, with lockdowns, social distancing, closed schools and churches, they are handling it quite differently. The leadership is more mature and their organizational skills are more developed. Some of these churches have live streaming capabilities and are taking advantage of them by staying connected to their congregations.
We have yet to hear from BENIN. I have not been able to speak to them this past week.
Please keep all our churches and pastors from the West African nations in your prayers. We have a total church membership of around 222,080 members with 2,089 churches in West Africa.
God is still on the throne and ultimately still in control!
HUNGARY | TAB Coffee House | The coffee house is currently closed; March 13th was the last day we were open. We are closely following the high school, which is located across the street from TAB and mimicking the parameters they are putting into place. The coffee house will remain closed until further notice. The team is serving in the community by getting groceries and medication for the elderly. We are grateful that God is providing an outlet to continue to be a light in the community.
From RUSSELL BOARD, Regional Director of Continental Asia
HIRO & ERYN BAMBA, JAPAN
The prime minister has just declared a state of emergency, giving additional powers to governors in seven regions (including ours) to take further measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. We are expecting policies for travel outside the home to become more strict, though no details have been forthcoming as yet. Our church continues to meet online. We have cancelled our regular children’s English classes through the month of April.
RAEHA BUTLER, CHINA
Things are pretty much back to normal, except for the use of the masks and temperature checks. Restaurants are open for full, regular business again. I still haven't heard from my language school. I think my classmate, his wife, and I are the only students here, as other students who left the country probably weren't able to return.
On Palm Sunday, our prayer time was incredible. We met outside a new government building which holds all the bureaus dealing with the citizens. I shared about a vivid dream I had in which the Lord seemed to be warning against attacks of the enemy to bring confusion and division to the church and its leaders during this time of crisis. Others shared what the Lord had been showing them throughout the week, and we had a powerful time in prayer.
Saturday at 10am, China sounded sirens for a time of mourning for three minutes to commemorate the dead in China who were claimed by the virus. Saturday was also Tomb Sweeping Day, a festival to celebrate the dead (mostly ancestor worship). As we prayed yesterday, we trust that as this virus started in China and spread throughout the world, that God has a blessing that has started in China and is to spread to the world. China's purpose is not death. China is to be a blessing. We believe, though with our physical eyes we are seeing death, confusion, and division, God is working in the spiritual to bring life, good news, and blessing!
ALBERT & JIEP GONZALES, THAILAND
We continue to hold worship services, Bible studies, and prayer meetings online. The youth also meet online for discipleship and fellowship. The Sunday message delivered by my assistant pastor was about drawing close to God and putting on the whole armor of God.
The Thai government’s order to stay home until April 30th is still in effect, including the curfew from 10:00pm to 4:00pm. By the grace of God, we are doing well. Please continue to pray for our protection and provision. Also, please continue to pray for protection and guidance for our daughter, Liza, as she is working as a nurse in California. In addition, please also remember in prayer the family of our national leader, Dr. Wallapa, and for all ACA pastors, leaders, and members.
VIJAY & APARANJANI BALLA, NATIONAL MISSIONARIES, BANGLADESH
We are confined to home. Our daughter, Roslin, is coming and going back to her apartment every once in a while. She lives three lanes away from us and is doing distance teaching as her school is closed. There are two grocery stores nearby, and things are available when we need them, for which we are grateful. School is closed until April 14th, but that closure is likely to be extended. Hostel students are staying on the campus and doing well. We cannot send them home as the transport has stopped. Please pray that they stay healthy.
Our pastors are doing fine, and we sent some extra support this month for their needs. We are working on processing our new visas, but the process has been delayed beyond an expected date because of the virus chaos. Please pray for our visas to come on time. My parents are in good health! We are so thankful to God for that.
BISHOP MICHAEL JOHN, NORTH INDIA
Some of our pastors are now in extremely difficult situations due to lack of income. People continue to worship in their homes, and pastors are trying their best to maintain contact with the believers. The situation is getting more difficult each day, but our God is in control, and we will ultimately see His glory revealed. There are hundreds of testimonies of lives changed during this lockdown. God is healing families.
BISHOP MOSES KUMAR, SOUTH INDIA
For worship services and prayer meetings, I was able to use YouTube, with technical help from one of our church members. A few are able to use Facebook Live and Zoom, etc., but most of the people had no way to minister.
Two pastors in South India were hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms. Both are home now and recovering; one is still in quarantine. All others, pastors and church members, are doing well by His gracious protection.
We do not know how long this lockdown will further be imposed. The financial situation of the churches is worst hit, as all the members are affected, with no work and no earnings. The giving in the churches is almost totally paralyzed with the present crisis. The rural church members do not have an assured and fixed salary. [We are] praying and trusting God for timely wisdom and supernatural resources. Different leaders have borrowed from available sources to distribute to all the pastors. Please pray for His wisdom and His provision during this famine in the churches - famine of the Word, and famine of finances.
From RON ROY, Regional Director of the Gulf Coast Region
MEXICO Phase two has been put into effect. Most, if not all, of our churches, which are able, have innovated their services using the internet and are hosting drive-up services. One church, in Berea, was using a football field. They put up a platform, and everyone stayed in their vehicles. They had worship and the preaching of the Word, staying within the guidelines of the governmental restrictions. Another church, Ebenezer, followed up on their online attendance, noting that there were over 7,000 views for their live service. The estimate was over 7,000 households, averaging 14,000 to 28,000 viewers, counting an average of four per household. There could be a silver lining to all of the restrictions - more innovative ways to get out of the box and go beyond the four walls of the church building, thus maximizing the most “bang for the buck” – PTL. Travel has been restricted. The authorities have initiated intercity police check points and restricted travel even for basics. RUBÉN PEREZ, husband of Missionary JUDY PEREZ (Emmanuel Bible College), went through surgery and is in recovery. Prayers are appreciated for Ruben.
GUATEMALA All flights are still heavily restricted or cancelled. The US Embassy has recommended all U.S. citizens should return to the USA. Those who are able are streaming their services.
BELIZE All travel has been restricted. No one is allowed outside of the home except for emergencies and buying food, unless they possess a written permission slip from the government.
April 2, 2020
From KRISZTINA REVESZ, The Awakening International Base in HUNGARY
We trust you are all doing well, and we pray that you all have peace from Jesus who is Lord over all the crazy things going on in the world right now.
We wanted to give you a quick update about the base in Hungary. Justin Long, Noah Hanscome, and I are doing well, but needless to say, all our normal activities of coffee shop ministry, serving the local high school, outreaches, and trips are all put on hold. But……
The Lord has opened a wonderful way of serving the community together with the local church. We have been able to offer help, through the local government of the town, to the elderly here. Many older people are in self-quarantine and isolation to protect themselves and many are without family members close by to help them. We have been able to do their shopping, as well as go to the post office and the pharmacy for them. Their response has been quite amazing with so many sweet comments of gratitude and kindness!
Sometimes, the simplest things like shopping become the only way of practical ministry, but Jesus can use anything and everything to build His kingdom! Many blessings from here to you all!
April 3, 2020
Update from EAST AFRICA
RON & SHARON WOOTEN – Ron & Sharon are doing very good. They were able to get out very briefly this week after two weeks of complete quarantine, but are going out only for essential purposes and then back in as most of us are doing. Times like this hit everywhere very hard, but in economies of the Third World, where many people live on a daily grind to get money for their families to survive, it really hits them hard. Probably 30% of the population lives this way and many on just a few dollars a day. The Wootens have already begun helping with food assistance. Just this past week, they gave staple food items to eight of the feeding projects they assist monthly. Then, in Nairobi, they distributed food to more than 50 families and carried food to a local prison to assist the inmates. This is only the beginning, but they are committed to helping as much as possible as long as the resources last. This is being done through their personal funds, ministry funds, and the local IPHC International Church they lead in Nairobi. Pray that they can get their work permits renewed. As of April 3, 2020, it has expired.
GAILYA LIST – Gailya is doing very well. She is a constant amazement at her faithfulness to serve the Lord and her physical strength. She says it often, “She has truly been blessed”. This January, she reached 59 years of constant full-time missionary work on the field. The IPHC has had other missionaries serve 60 years or more, but I (Ron Wooten) am not sure any of them have served full time on the field for this long. She and Philip were approved by World Missions Ministries in January 1961 to be IPHC Missionaries to Africa. She has served faithfully since that time. She has agreed to stay home during this time of quarantine, but she is not enjoying it. We (Sharon & Ron) have asked her to come and stay with us in our apartment, but she still wants to be in her place and still reaches and assists people on a daily basis. Please pray we can get Gailya’s work permit renewed.
KEVIN & SUMMER SNEED – The Sneeds are doing well. The kids’ school closed on March 16, and the Bible school closed on March 18. All the students arrived home safely. The four South Sudanese students will remain on campus. The support staff is still working at the Bible school but practicing constant hand washing and social distancing. I’m going into the office a few hours each morning to oversee the administration and the wall construction. We are using this time to update our Bible school curriculum. We are also helping our staff to prepare for further restrictions by giving them time off in the afternoons and a bonus for buying supplies. Summer is busy doing homeschooling and projects with the kids. We are also helping a large group of elderly people in our community to get groceries and run errands.
MICHAEL & LESLIE TIGNOR – Today, our stay at home order was extended for another two weeks. Churches are to remain closed, and only essential businesses and travel are allowed. So far, we have been able to travel to the bank and grocery store but, at times, are stopped by police and roads are closed. On the ministry side, we have been able to raise and give money to support vulnerable families who currently have no means to work. Through Kabeza IPHCR, we connected with local leadership to do food distribution for 58 families in the community. We were also able to do the People to People quarterly payout this week. Josiah is growing and doing well. We are thankful for the Lord's protection during this time.
JAMIE & JESSICA DUNNING – The Dunnings are doing great and working to keep the kids entertained, as well as keeping up their school assignments. They are getting out in the coffee fields close to their house and have done some day hikes to a forest that is close to them. Jamie is spearheading a project to prepare food kits for families that will provide a family several meals plus some staples to keep them going. The kits costs about $6, and the whole family is working to put them together. They will then disperse them through creative means to get them to many of our churches. They have also done PTP payouts to our pastors, children’s centres, and schools to assist families during this tough time.
GREG & LATOYA MCCLERKIN – The McClerkins are on furlough right now. They have been home since just before Christmas. I (Ron Wooten) spoke with Greg this week, and they have relocated from Virginia to his home area in Tennessee to be closer to his family in this extreme time. They are all doing well, and Greg’s family is enjoying getting to know the boys. Greg and Ethan are getting a good bit of fishing done as well.
MATTHEW & IRIS WONG – The Wongs are staying very connected to their Chinese community here in Nairobi via different online platforms. Most of their people are very tech savvy. They are continuing services via streaming and are doing their weekly Bible studies using Zoom. We spoke today, and they are doing well and have made the decision to try and stay in as much as possible. They have even found a service that is delivering their groceries.
MICHAEL & TAMMY MCRAE – The McRaes are stateside and hoping to get back as soon as travel bans are lifted and they can book flights. They got caught outside Kenya when all this hit due to some unexpected events and now cannot reenter Kenya until the ban is over. Keep them in your prayers that all things will work together for good, and that they can get back as soon as possible. Pray that we can get their work permits renewed, as theirs have expired as well.
RHONDA WOOD - Personally, I am safe and secure on my compound and have Ugandan contacts to walk to town for me to obtain food as needed. I have been preparing for several weeks and have a good stock of supplies. Private vehicles are now no longer to be on the roads, so besides walking; we are all inside of our compounds. Food stores are open in town, but all other non-essential businesses and stores are closed. Our health education program has stopped due to schools being closed, and no community gatherings are allowed. However, our employees are working from home with their laptops on their health topic research and presentations. I am in regular contact with our Health Services Director and employees by email and phone calls. I have regular contact with all our Ugandan leadership team/employees, as well Pastor Tony, NLCM, and Don Eckenroth, LAMP NGO President, in the U.S.
LAURA WARREN – Life has really been a whirlwind these past several months. After moving to Kenya in January, it seems we have been hit with a lot of adversity but, nevertheless, Jesus has made rivers in the dry lands. I have spent the last few months in and out of the largest slum community in Nairobi, known as Kibera. My goal and assignment here in Kenya is to start a program for vulnerable and at-risk children for running to street life. We have been fervently spending time with the families of quite a few of these children who are actively living in the streets. I believe building relationships with these families and meeting their physical needs (food, medicine, supplies, etc.), while also mentoring and pouring into them spiritually, is setting a ground foundation for the start up of this new program and children returning home from the streets. The Coronavirus has definitely put a hold on so much of this, and it is becoming harder to go in with rising numbers of diagnoses. I have still been able to safely get food and some other supplies to families quite frequently though. I am certain Jesus will make a way. I feel honored to be here, even now, in midst of so many unknowns.
CUBA | From BISHOP ADONIS, National Leader | Blessings and greetings to you. Here, we are all well. We have always oriented to take all the extreme sanitary and hygiene measures and precautions against this terrible disease. We have directed our pastors to suspend services in the churches. We have limited the trips between provinces. The national activities that we had planned for April have been suspended. We are meeting at home for family services, prayer times, etc. We keep in touch. Thanks for your concern.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC | From BISHOP PEDRO, National Leader | COVID-19 has caused the government to take measures so that people do not leave their houses and the churches are closed. However, we have a 24-hour prayer campaign during quarantine.
GUYANA | From BISHOP LIVAN’s wife, JUDY | We are asking for prayer because Bishop and I have to be going out to get to our church family. So, we are asking for God’s hands of protection. It is not easy. We closed all of the IPHC churches for two weeks. There is:
- No Bible Study
- No Prayer Meeting
- No Women's Ministry
- No Men's Ministry
- No Youth Quest
- No Sunday School
- No Sunday Service
- No Deliverance Service
This is affecting our members because we do not have things in place for us to get to our members. Thank you for the help and for all that you are doing for our country. God Bless you.
NEPAL | From CHASE and KRISTINA | The Government of Nepal is currently two weeks into a national lockdown. It appears that it has now been extended through the month of April. It has been stated by multiple sources over the years that over 90% of the Nepalese people live on less than $2 dollars a day.
We have witnessed first-hand how strict and serious this mandatory lockdown is being taken by the government. Military and police checkpoints are at every corner of the Kathmandu valley. People are completely out of work and becoming desperate. The streets are desolate with few grocery stores open for limited hours, and they are receiving fewer customers by the day, as shelves are not getting restocked.
The government has started to open these small warehouses where they are selling rice, oil, lentils, sugar, and oats. We have found these locations to be where we can get the bulk goods the IPHC church members are currently in need of.
Our plan started out with the idea of providing the local IPHC pastor with $150 USD/20,000 NPR. With the oversight of IPHC Assistant Ashok Lama, he will go with the pastor and pick up $100 USD worth of rice, oil, lentils, sugar, and oats and distribute amongst his/her congregation. We have asked the pastor to keep $50 USD for his own family during this time. This is needed because his salary is being cut off with the financial stress of his people, as well as churches are not being able to publicly meet.
Our goal is to attend to the Kathmandu valley churches at this time. This is because rural Nepal is not under such a tight lockdown. Therefore, pastors and churches outside the valley are not in the greatest need because they are still being able to find some form of work.
We have 65 plus churches inside the Kathmandu valley that we are requesting relief for. My projection is $150 USD for each church ($100 for the local congregation and $50 for the local pastor). This would allow them to purchase essential items to live off during this national lockdown.
IPHC Nepal leadership is requesting: $150 USD x 65 churches = $9,750 USD
From RON ROY, Regional Director of the Gulf Coast Region | There are a few cases of COVID-19 that have been reported. There has been unrest in some areas of Mexico, mostly in the southern states. Two of the larger stores have been ransacked by a mob of about 70 people, as rationing for items have been mandated. We limit our moves to our home base at this time. Our churches are adapting to the situation and going online and meeting in smaller groups when permitted. The cell group strategy that they have been using for years has been extremely instrumental. GUATEMALA The biggest concern for our brethren in Guatemala is the hope that the economy does not take a downturn because of the COVID-19 shutdown. BELIZE Belize is going through a hard time. The country is in total shutdown. As of this writing, we have spoken to Gene Hancock (IPHC missionary) to see what immediate needs there may be and what can be done about some of the indigenous work we have that is dependent on selling their local goods for income. We are going to concentrate on the neediest first. If there is no income, no money, and no food combined with a total shutdown - it could be disastrous for these people.
TRINIDAD | From BISHOP ANDREW SINANAN's wife, LISA SINANAN
On March 11, our first case of COVID-19 was identified, and to date there are 89 cases with five deaths and rising. The majority of cases are people who have recent travel histories, but in the last week a few cases have started to appear who did not travel. Beginning March 16, all schools were shut down and gatherings of groups of more than 10 persons were prohibited. On March 22, our borders were officially closed, so there are no flights in or out of Trinidad. On March 29, we were ordered by the government to stay home except to go to the bank, grocery store, pharmacy, or work (if your job was deemed essential). All non-essential businesses were ordered to close. The last step will be if the government decides to enforce a curfew.
We are aware of one family in our church who have the COVID-19 symptoms but has not been tested yet. This morning we discovered that an evangelist that we met in January and became fast friends with and had done several events with before all the restrictions, is one of the five that has passed away from the virus. Andrew spoke to him on the phone last week, and he said he wasn't feeling well. His doctor told him his blood count was low, and Andrew prayed with him. His name was Victor, and he was a wonderful man with a passion to unite churches and spread the gospel. Sadly, no funeral can be held, and the government will dispose of his body, but we know his spirit lives on with Christ.
Economically, most of our church congregation are senior citizens, day laborers, small business owners, and unemployed persons. Less than 5% of them work in jobs deemed "essential," and perhaps another 10% might receive pension checks, but, beyond that, the rest of us (including our family) currently have no income, as most families here live month to month. In addition, our church was supplying hampers to 20 poor families within our congregation, but we cannot do that now because everybody used to provide items; however, we cannot meet and most do not have the little extra finances to do so anymore. If we had the money, though, Andrew would still be allowed to purchase and distribute hampers. We will need to move quickly before more restrictions are in place. These hampers would include: toilet paper, soap, bleach, rice, flour, baking powder, dried beans, cooking oil, spices (curry, salt, etc.), sugar, ketchup, eggs, milk, vegetables/provisions, meat (for one meal a week). Any assistance that could be offered here would be great.
Due to the restrictions, we started holding online Sunday services on March 22nd. These are live through our Facebook page at: Rapture Ready Pentecostal Holiness Ministries. We intend to continue doing that even though we are limited to our family leading it from our home. We may also begin holding some leadership meetings through Zoom. We do not currently have a church website, but do maintain a WhatsApp group that we communicate to our church body with on a daily basis. We are grateful for the internet options available at the moment to stay connected. Our stay at home order is due to expire April 20th. I think that will only actually expire if we have no new cases for the two weeks prior.
We have a few healthcare workers in our congregation, and they are understandably very nervous. Trinidad does not have proper protective equipment for them, and our hospitals could quickly get overwhelmed. All prayers and any medical resources would be welcomed.
Thankfully, our family is healthy at this time. Since Sunday night, we are all at home except that Andrew has continued to do non-virus-related funerals. They now allow only five people present in each funeral. He went out this morning for one of those. Since the beginning of 2020, Andrew has averaged one funeral a week, as he knows a lot of people outside of our congregation.
I hope this gives you a good picture of where we are at. We hold everyone around the world in our prayers.
Continental Asia Update
HIRO & ERYN BAMBA, JAPAN | The number of COVID-19 cases in Tokyo is rising quickly. The governor is asking people from surrounding areas not to come to the city on weeknights or weekends. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics has been postponed until next year. Beginning last Sunday, the IPHC church here has instituted online services.
CHASE & KRISTINA, NEPAL | The government decided to extend the quarantine until April 8th and possibly for another week after that. Our neighborhood is really strict and will not allow anyone entry other than residents. Everyone is definitely crippled by fear. We are working on distribution of funds and supplies to pastors and churches in our area that will be starving soon if we don’t help. We aren’t supposed to leave our area, so we are just trying to find creative ways to get them rice and lentils and other supplies. Please pray that we will be able to get them supplies. Yesterday, we were led to call our regular taxi driver and check on him and his family. He only had enough food for one more day and then his family was going to starve because they survive off his daily taxi pay, which is completely shut down. He had to borrow a motorbike because that was his only hope of getting here, and he had to contact police and beg them to let him come and pick up money so his family could eat. He finally made it and was so grateful. Chase was able to minister to him.
Churches are not meeting right now due to the very serious mandate of lockdown. Two pastors were arrested on Sunday for holding church. Also, one pastor was arrested for holding church on Facebook live and praying for people online!
I feel so much purpose in us being here during this time, as I can clearly see how we can be a blessing just by providing for others and helping keep families fed. God has just filled our home with such a beautiful peace and comfort. He has overwhelmed us with his presence. Pray that the church here will be funded enough to be the hands and feet of Christ to all their unbelieving neighbors, and that will lead to revival!
RAEHA BUTLER, CHINA | I’m mainly sticking to home. I got out today to meet with friends for prayer. From the looks of it, things are completely back to normal. My province still hasn't announced a back to school date. I heard today Gansu Province is holding off because there are lots of people sneaking back in from pilgrimages. Many of these people are being found out after they come down with the virus symptoms. (They were exposed outside and don't show symptoms until after they enter). My language school is on a different start time than elementary through high school start times are, so at this point, I wonder if I will ever get back to my classes.
ALBERT & JIEP GONZALES, THAILAND | We are staying here at our house in Phatum Thani: about a 40-minute drive from Bangkok. We are holding worship services, prayer meetings, and an online Bible study. The Lord led me last Sunday to share about “God is with us.” I believe that the Lord is reminding His Church that He is with us. We need to trust Him and have faith that He will never leave us nor forsake us; we will overcome this crisis; He is God. He is faithful! He is our refuge. Amen!
We have been ordered by the government to stay home for another 30 days (extended up to April 30). However, we can still go out to buy food or other necessary supplies. People who are sick can go to the hospital for treatment.
We are communicating with ACA pastors and leaders to encourage and pray for one another. We thank God, we are all doing fine and so is the ministry. They are also doing online services.
VIJAY & APARANJANI BALLA, NATIONAL MISSIONARIES, BANGLADESH | We are all doing well by the grace of God. All the boarding children are staying with us. Although all the schools are closed up to April 9th, we did not send the children home, as they are much safer here than at their villages. Moreover, all the parents also want them to be with us. Last week, one student developed headache and fever, and we were afraid, thinking whether it is related to the Corona Virus. We asked his father to take him home to protect other children. By God's grace it is not the Corona Virus, but a normal fever. Thank God. He is doing well at home.
MERLYN LAMANILAO, NATIONAL MISSIONARY, CAMBODIA | With regards to our situation here, most of our churches are doing worship online, except for our village churches in Santey, Andong Preng, and Pursat. There, the pastors do house to house visitation and follow up calls. With the Filipino congregation we use Skype. Here in Phnom Penh, we send Bible lessons and crafts for the children to do at home.
There is no more public transportation traveling in and out to the provinces. Markets, banks, and some restaurants are still open. We are waiting for the result of a government meeting on progress. There may be a total lockdown next week. Please, pray for protection, peace, and provision.
BISHOP MICHAEL JOHN, NORTH INDIA | It is an extremely difficult situation we are finding ourselves in. Since most of our pastors are depending on the offering and tithes, it has become a big challenge as people are not gathering. We have asked the conference board to find out about those pastors who do not have food to eat or have very limited resources. This is the most urgent need right now. Pastors in rural areas are finding it difficult to even connect with believers because many believers do not have cell phones. Most city and town pastors are on WhatsApp and sending recorded voice messages and video messages for the family to gather together and listen to. It is very essential to be connected, but some pastors do not have money to pay their phone bill.
BISHOP MOSES KUMAR, SOUTH INDIA | By His grace, none of our folks are directly affected by COVID-19, but all the citizens are affected by the ensuing curfew and lockdown. We need to pray and find a paradigm for self-supporting churches in unforeseen situations like these. As necessity is the mother of inventions, many of our pastors are going
digital even through common instruments like phones in sharing the worship and ministry of the Word, but there needs to be invention of ways and means of electronic giving. In faith, we announced an initial help of 2,000 Rupees for each pastor, and we are trying to assist in pooling and transmitting those funds.
TIM SALLEY, Regional Director of the Pacific, provides the following updates:
From DOUGLAS & REMY BARTON: IPHC missionaries to the PHILIPPINES: A total lock-down for the entire province of Tarlac began yesterday (March 29). We are required to have a permit to leave the house for shopping, wet market, drug store, and the supermarket. Each household can have only one (1) person that is designated to go out for necessities. They can go out only on the designated day and time. You will be stopped by the police if you go out on the wrong day or at the wrong time. Once arriving at your destination, you must wait in line as they only allow so many in the store/market at one time. The problem now is a lack of some food items, toilet paper, and cleaning supplies. Twice now, we have been blessed by someone selling fish and meat coming to the house. Also, a pastor brought some pork by the house today. We will share that with some of our extended family living outside our compound. Yesterday, we again had worship service on our porch; it was videoed so others could join us via Facebook. God is providing!
From DEBRA CROOK: IPHC missionary to the PHILIPPINES & PTP Coordinator for Asia: The lockdown schedule for my area is March 17- April 13; heightened alert was issued today (March 29) and tomorrow (March 30) and we are not allowed to leave our homes due to cases in the area. They are disinfecting the areas the infected person had visited. Lockdowns are determined by the municipality of your residence. We are to remain home 24/7. Last Monday, they finally issued passes. One person per pass can go out for necessities three (3) times a week between 8am and noon. Another restriction is that anyone over 60 isn’t supposed to go out – funny, I forgot, I’m in that category. Anyway, our area isn’t strict but, in Manila, they are being denied entry in stores to shop. I am thankful with the rural aspect of where I’m living now. We have small vendors of basic commodities along the road and some groceries are doing online deliveries.
Ministry wise… a lot of emails, Facebook messaging, and calls.
PTP update: I continue to email every area. Malaysia PTP - They are under lockdown thru April 14. Our sponsored children there are at the Myanmar Refugee Learning Center. The older children are doing classes online. The director of the school is very pleased and everything is going smoothly with teachers and students. Thailand PTP - They are under voluntary quarantine. Their district representatives haven’t shared any concerns.
I am still waiting for updates from others. I’m assuring them of our prayers and support as we are all facing the same situation.
From AL & COLI ARGO: IPHC Missionaries to the PHILIPPINES: As of today (March 28), we are under a 30-day lockdown. For the last two weeks, Cebu has been under quarantine but, because of continued spread of the virus, the nearby provinces have initiated a military enforced lockdown with only medical and other select workers allowed outside, plus closure of the international airport. We made it to the store today and bought almost all we needed for 30 days. We passed the checkpoint, staffed ambulances, police and military, with only ten minutes to spare before all the sirens began to wail indicating the beginning of the period when no one is allowed in or out of each neighborhood. We have one known case nearby and his home is covered in plastic. Regarding our ministry, we are conducting weekly Sunday services via Facebook Live and do small groups, discipleship, and corporate prayer via Zoom.
PAKISTAN: From IPHC Pakistan National Leader, REV. ASHER MANSHA: Christians were denied food bags during a food distribution by a Muslim relief organization in Pakistan. In order to receive the food bag, each person was asked their name. Only if one's name is Muhammad, Ali, etc, which shows the Muslim religion, were they given the food. It is so sad for us.
Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ in Pakistan during this time. Pakistan is #5 on Open Doors World Watch list of most persecuted countries. https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/
MALAYSIA: From IPHC Malaysia Chairman, REV. WILLIAM PATRICK: We are in the second week of the lock down as the numbers of infected have increased to more than 2,000 and 34 deaths. We still can go out to buy essential items, but only one person in the family is allowed out at one time. The Malaysian authorities are doing their utmost best to contain the virus, especially the health ministry with help of the police, Armed Forces, the local council enforcement unit, etc. The authorities are not facing many problems as Malaysians adhere to the lock down/quarantine law. The government has also set up a center for temporary treatment, as they expect a large increase in cases soon. The Malaysian churches of all languages are praying daily at 8:30 pm. Besides that, in many areas, the churches have mobilized food banks to help the needy from all races and religions.
AUSTRALIA: From IPHC Australia national leader, Rev. CHRIS FRIEND: Sunday, March 29, was the first weekend when we were required by the commonwealth government to refrain from public services due to COVID-19. IPHC congregations within Australia went down one of two paths. We used online services to connect with our people and/or had pastors/leaders meet with people at their homes in small gatherings. In addition to Sunday services, we are continuing to minster to vulnerable people through our accommodation centers and other outreach ministries. In all of this, we are confident that God turns darkness into light (Psalm 18:28).
INDONESIA: From TIM SALLEY: Through the kind giving of some friends in Singapore and Slovakia, we were able to help our churches in Batam, Indonesia, distribute almost 300 food packets to church members and community members in the slum areas of the island. These packets included basic items such as flour, rice, sugar, and noodles. We trust the Lord for more resources in the days and weeks ahead as we believe the needs are only going to increase for Indonesia and our entire Pacific region.
March 29, 2020
Direct message from ISMAIL SERINKEN, PHC National Leader, TURKEY:
Greetings from Ankara!
We had a wonderful online church service in our church building today. To our surprise, over 500 people joined us online. One of the reasons is that we are the only church that does online services in Ankara. There are about ten churches that provide online church services in all of Turkey. The other challenge is even ten people are not supposed to gather in church buildings. Our new restriction says that three or [more] people cannot come together except from the same family. We thank God that our worship team and the preacher are all from the same family. So, we are ok to go do the online service in our church building.
It is a new season. All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord as the Bible says. I believe our ministry will grow at a higher gear in this new season. What the enemy intended for evil (the Corona Virus), God will turn around for good.
March 28, 2020
From Max Barroso, Interim Regional Director of South America
The government of Buenos Aires requested that our Bible School in Argentina serve the city as an overflow ambulatory medical facility.
The National Board has agreed to the request and, as of this morning, the local authorities started the set-up process of beds and equipment on our property.
We are praying and believing that God, through this, will allow us to be a literal Place of Hope as people find healing and care in our facilities.
Direct message from APOSTLE ANTIOINE KOSSI ADEDJE, PHC National Leader, TOGO, AFRICA:
Greetings from Togo.
Following the Corona Virus situation, which is prevailing in many countries, including the USA, we are writing to inquire how you are doing. For some weeks now, we have been hearing that the USA has also been visited by the inexplicable disease of the Corona Virus. We have also heard that many States have been touched by this virus. The Church in Togo is very concerned by this pandemic crisis; that is why we are writing to see how you are doing in USA. We trust that all your family is fine and also brothers and sisters from IPHC in America. As for Togo, everybody is fine. Pastors and church members are well, except that all churches are closed. We are praying hard for the situation to change as soon as possible. May God protect you and your family as well as the global family of the IPHC.
May God bless you.
Apostle Antoine Kossi ADEDJE
President of the Church
March 27, 2020
From RON ROY, Regional Director of the Gulf of Mexico
I wanted to inform WMM that the entire Gulf Coast region (MEXICO, BELIZE, and GUATEMALA) is on lockdown. The U.S. Government is offering evacuations from Belize and Guatemala. We can still travel to Mexico, but some of the border crossings are very limited. The problem is not entering one of these countries, it is getting out. All travel to the Gulf Coast region for missionary endeavors should be rescheduled. They may not be able to return without 14 mandatory quarantine days, both coming and going.
March 26, 2020
From Bob Cave, Regional Director for Eurasia & the Middle East
Greetings! Thanks for all that the WMM Staff is doing to keep all the pieces connected. First, CAROL and I are well and, I believe, healthy and based in Canada until the world opens up again. I was due to be in Israel these past two weeks with Ukrainian Bishop Reshetinsky and Dima Loiuk, our Director of Humanitarian Services. Dan Gutierres was scheduled to be with us as well. However, we are all grounded…but still connected.
BEN AND MARIANNE JANSSEN have been teaching DCPI, LSM, and other Bible School course in five or six countries and had to return to Canada for a short time. Even though they are passionate to resume ministry, they report:
“Our plan was to go to Canada for a short time to look after my Canadian citizenship, to see our children, and to see a specialist for the cancer in my face. None of that is going to happen right now. We landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and our girls are in Ontario.
We are finishing 14 days of self-quarantine and are feeling well. Two days ago, we got an email from Holland that Ben's oldest sister died from the Corona virus. She was sick for ten days, and they did not even bring her to the hospital. The funeral is tomorrow. It is a sad world right now.
My mother, who is 93 and living in Holland, is locked in her nursing home. We could not fly via Europe so we did not see her.
We have no phone as yet, but we can email and phone via Skype. The situation in Mauritius, Reunion, South Africa, and Romania, where we want to go back first to teach, is all the same as in the U.S. and Canada. All we can do is wait and pray. We are daily in contact with the different fields.”
Newlyweds, the GUTIERRESES are serving in Turkey. They have active church participation and youth interaction. They report:
“Captain's Log: March 23, 2020 – It’s day ten in Turkey's self-quarantine. The schools are closed, as well as restaurants and cafes. How much more can I take? A lot more actually. It’s not that bad here. We can go out for walks and buy food. We are not experiencing a shortage of toilet paper.
However, since coffee shops closed, getting a decent cup of coffee will become very difficult. We still have some beans and have begun to ration those out. Forget everything else I've said - How much more can we take? The better question is: how long will our coffee supply last? I'll keep you posted.”
PETER LAKATOS, PHC Hungary (Direct Message): “We are all fine here in Hungary. The virus has reached the country, but the current situation is not very serious yet. Church life and education will continue online, and my prayer is that this Virus will be over as soon as possible.”
I have been talking to the Bulzan family in ROMANIA, and they are all well. Services are online and they are trying to minister to a growing number of needs. Some of the needs include:
- Two to three of their gypsy churches have no jobs or source of money and no food.
- An elderly home in two locations with 90 persons also needs our help. I was able to send $4,000 as of today (March 26)
I talked with Bishop Valery Reshetinsky in the UKRAINE the last two days, and they have a number of needs across the mother church and 220 daughter churches. They have no online giving system; thus, with no one able to travel on public transportation or have more than ten persons in a group, funds have dried up. For anyone within walking distance of the church they have lots of rooms to divide up, so ten persons could have Bible study and pray.
The drug rehab centers have 120 men and women. Those that complete the rehab program usually travel as a group to Norway, Germany, and other countries in the spring and become painters. They would then bring their painting proceeds back to Ukraine to run the operation for much of the year. They now need $2,000 a month for the next six months to just feed and cover emergency expenses. I sent $5,000 for Bishop Reshetinsky to distribute and $2,000 to Dima Loiuk (our rehab director) to cover some of the rehab expenses. We are in need of this amount repeated for the next four months.
ISRAEL this is one of the countries that went on total lockdown first. I’m glad my trip there was postponed, and hopefully I can monitor the situation via WhatsApp. I talked to Michael Sadovsky (one of the directors) and Andrey Zaremba (media & promotion) on Thursday, March 26th, and the pressing need is food. All of their churches are closed, but they need to feed 140 men and women that are in the drug rehab centers. Plus, there are many Holocaust survivors that they are delivering food packages to. In addition, there are many new immigrants (returning Jews repatriating to Israel). They are desperate, and this opens a huge door to present the gospel. Our plan was to get as many IPHC churches as possible to give $150 plus a month to facilitate these programs. (Project number Living Israel General funds 26003P)
Pastor Khader Khouri in BETHLEHEM (Palestinian Territories) and I communicate on almost a daily basis, and they, too, are on total lockdown. Khader, however, received permission from the local authorities to deliver food to his neighbors in the Bethlehem area. Most are Muslims, and they are very grateful that a Christian church would be the ones helping. Most live day to day. He was able to supply food to some that were in need. We have been able to send over $5,000 to help him buy food and prescription medications ($2,000 came from People to People; $2,000 from WMM; and the balance from donors). Pastor Khader is trusting the Lord for any future help he gets.
Ismail Serinken in TURKEY reports that they are almost on total lockdown. Ismail is attempting to minister through online communication. There was a need for additional equipment to be able to reach more homes. They have many programs available on YouTube. There was not a request for food at this time, and Ismail and his family are well.
March 25, 2020
From Linwood Berry, Regional Director of the Mediterranean
Today is the 11th day of the nationwide quarantine/home confinement in Spain. The initial 15-day confinement has been extended another 15 days (11 April), and this morning they announced it will most likely go at least until the end of April. We must make plans based on that possibility. I checked the latest numbers: 47,610 people infected, 3,500 deaths, 6,000 doctors, nurses and health care providers infected. Three national policemen have died and two doctors. (source: https://www.lavanguardia.com/vida/20200325/4888308116/coronavirus-espana-contagios-muertes-madrid-catalunya-pais-vasco-estado-de-alarma-congreso-pedro-sanchez-carmen-calvo-ultimas-noticias-hoy-en-directo.html)
100% of hotels are closed. Four have been refitted as hospitals in Madrid. The Madrid convention center (IFEMA) has been set up as a field hospital. It opened with 1,500 beds this past Sunday and is nearly full today. The army has been called in and is patrolling the streets in 58 cities and towns. There is also an emergency response unit of the army that is focused on disinfecting public streets and spaces. A big army tanker truck came down the street I live on, spraying bleach on the streets, sidewalks, and walls of the houses.
You cannot physically leave your home except to access health care or pharmacy, or to purchase food. We are obligated to stay in the towns where our residence is. Nor can you sit on your front porch or any space that might face the street or public spaces. No jogging or walking. Needless to say, everything is closed, except for one grocery store in my village. I stood in line Friday, in the rain for two hours outside the store, as they only allow a few people at a time to enter. When you do go out, you must use a face mask and gloves. When returning home, wipe your shoes with bleach, throw the clothes in the washing machine, and take a shower.
Failure to comply is sanctioned. This AM it was reported 102K people have been fined and over 100 arrested and jailed. The government considers this a grave risk to others and to the authorities. The sanctions are quite severe.
Even so, the growth rate of the virus is around 16% a day. The only known way to slow it down is complete isolation from exposure. I have seen figures suggesting that 70% of the people who are exposed will develop the virus.
The threat is real. This is not a conspiracy theory devised by liberals and the fake media to destroy the economy, or deprive citizens of their civil rights. Real people are being infected and dying on a massive scale with no end in sight.
In Italy, there are 70K infected and 6,800 deaths as of this morning. They are considering extending the home confinement through the 31st of July. They have hardened enforcement of those violating the quarantine/shelter at home order. Fines of 3,000€ and a prison sentence of up to 5 years have just been approved.
All the other nations in the Mediterranean Region have similar policies: France, Portugal, Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, etc.
IPHC Mediterranean Region:
I am talking every day to our pastors across the region. Nowhere can our churches meet in the buildings or home groups. However, every single church has an online presence. Indeed, many of our churches are meeting via the internet every day. I have talked to all our pastors and national leaders and, despite the crisis, we are optimistic, trusting implicitly in the Lord and confident we shall come out of this stronger and more unified than ever. No one is panicking or has expressed fear.
There are some of our membership who do not have access to the internet. Someone from their local church is calling them every day. To the best of my knowledge, in Spain, our entire membership is being attended to by internet, chat, messenger, WhatsApp, or phone call nearly every day. I am talking to every pastor several times a week.
The Madrid church has several people who are sick. The Parla church has a man in his mid 50’s in ICU whose condition is critical. The Toledo church also has many folks infected. The epidemic is strongest in Madrid and Castilla la Mancha (where I live).
So far, no one in the Rome church (PASTORS GIUSEPPE and DANIELA FIANO) has the virus. I am committed to speak to their church via Zoom next Wednesday. Malta and Cyprus do not have the same level of infection and seem to be doing well. We have a new church plant in Bologna, Italy. They have a few cases in the church, but nothing serious.
It is a challenge to pastor a church without being able to visit the sick in the hospital or even minister in a funeral.
We (the pastors and I) are talking about the economic impact. It is going to hit beginning next week. Some measures from the governments have been announced, but what they work out to be is unknown. We decided that our first response is to help on a case-by-case method. When the restrictions on movement are eased, we have some resources with food distribution to help. Any relief assistance from WMM is appreciated.
Finally, at least one bright note, the bank appraised the building we are buying at 497K € (197€ more than our purchase price). That favors the resolution of the final financing we need to close the purchase by 18 May. The bankers working with us are working from home and quite helpful. This is much further than we have gotten with any other financial institution.
NANCY is in the USA taking care of her mother. Her return has been delayed indefinitely. I am here alone at home. I am well and enjoying many good moments with the Lord. My friends, neighbors, and our pastors call me every day to check up on me and make sure I am well. I am blessed.
I appreciate your prayers and concern. Stay blessed.
From Max Barroso, Interim Regional Director of South America
Overall, the situation in South America is very similar in regards to the measures being taken by the local governments - strict quarantine measures, closed borders, and limited movement (only to secure essentials). Every country has reported both positive tests and deaths. The South American Bible Institute in Buenos Aires has suspended the semester and will not resume classes until early June.
We have two different situations among our family members in the region. At this juncture the NICHOLS family, the BICKETT family, and ALLISON JONES are stateside, itinerating. I have spoken with all of them directly and even though it has affected their scheduling with churches and stateside engagements, they are doing well. All three are in quarantine scenarios (Nichols in NC; and Bicketts and Jones in Oklahoma). We have already established with all of them that their return to the field will be subject to the lifting of U.S. and local regulations.
- DAVID DEATON was in Peru, however he returned to the US from Lima on Friday March the 20th. He is currently in Florida with Marilyn. They are observing the mandated quarantine.
Currently on the field we have four missionary families: HELLANDS, HODGES, LUCANOS, and the WESTS. I will address each of them individually.
HELLANDS: They are doing well and are currently in Sao Pablo and staying at home. Everything in Brazil has closed down and they have transitioned their children’s schooling to online learning. Aaron mentioned to me how their rhythm has increased and the development of online content for the church has them running! On Sunday 10,000 families watched their online service! They have also been developing Kid’s Ministry resources that last Sunday were used throughout all of Brazil, upwards of 100,000 people benefiting from these resources.
HODGES: They are doing well in Jicamarca, Peru. Last week was quite busy as they were hosting a team from Tallahassee that had issues returning to the U.S., but right now they are doing well. The state ordered quarantine in Peru is quite strict so they are staying put. Their kids are continuing with the home school curriculum they were already following and doing well.
LUCANOS: They are in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, and doing well. They are following the local ordinances and developing online content for the local church they pastor. Their last on site service was March 8th, since then it is all taking place via digital means.
WESTS: They are doing well and are currently quarantined in Lima, Peru. The city “seems calm” according to Ben, and they are “stocked up and good to wait it out.” They are continuing the homeschooling curriculum they had in place for their kids; reaching out to people; and trying to be of service via digital means.
Points of Emphasis
Our primary concern in the region at this moment is the many pastoral families that are in a very fragile financial situation. With the churches being closed and no possibility to get out of their houses and work, most of the superintendents estimated a very difficult situation starting in the next two weeks. Some governments are providing assistance (Peru will be giving a cash bonus to every citizen good for about two weeks of groceries), but we are praying for wisdom on how to assist in other countries.
BISHOP MICHAEL JOHN, PHC NORTH INDIA (Direct Message): Thank you very much for praying for the IPHC faith family in India. Yes indeed, it is a tough time for our pastors and believers. It is very hard for our people to accept that they won’t be able to worship together during the Passion Week, and Easter in the church building.
We are trying to help the urban churches to do online service for their people. But most of our churches are in rural area and thus, this is not possible.
I believe God was moving the universal church towards house church movement and today we could see that each house has become a church. Something good will come out even in the darkest hour. We have asked all our pastors today to ask the believers to pray for their neighborhood when they meet for Sunday worship in their house. Great commission must be the core of our movement no matter what the situation is.
I am very concerned about the financial challenges the local church is going to face around the globe.
The positive that I am seeing here in this situation is people are coming closer to God. As the situation is worsening, the hunger for God is growing.
Praying for you and the WMM team for the challenge you face in leading IPHC ministries in 100 odd countries in this unprecedented situation. Praying for all our missionaries who are serving in different parts of the world as well.
His grace is sufficient and come what may, we will not only survive, but will come out of this mess with greater resolve and power from above to be a true Place of Hope.
Kindly know that the IPHC North India is extremely grateful to the church in the U.S. for your love and support and be assured of our prayers for you.
Direct message from BISHOP SAMUEL MOSES, PHC SOUTH INDIA:
Thank you so much Bishop Gardner for your concern and prayers. So far, all are doing well here except regular gatherings. We too are praying for you all in U.S. and other parts of the world. As Dr. Terry Tramel recently posted, I know that even though we are in Friday now, Sunday is coming soon. I am also sending regards from Smitha and Christina.
BISHOP DR. MOSES KUMAR, PHC SOUTH INDIA (Direct Message): Thank you so much for your email and for your prayers. We are much in prayer for all of our faith family in India and for all the Global IPHC family in the wake of Corona virus epidemic. We trust and pray for fulfillment of His promise for all the dear people, and for all the nations with our presence and prayers therein. “And the Lord will take away from you all sickness, and will afflict you with none of these terrible diseases of Egypt which you have known.” (Deuteronomy 7:15)
We appreciate your prayers and partnership always. We believe we will see a new day soon by the grace of Our Omnipotent Father!!!
BISHOP ADONIS GATO CRUZ, PHC Cuba (Direct Message): Blessings and greetings to you. Here, we are all well. We have always oriented to take all the extreme sanitary and hygiene measures and precautions against this terrible disease. We have directed our pastors to suspend the services in the churches. We have limited the trips between provinces. The national activities that we had planned until April have been suspended. We are meeting at home with family services and prayer times at specific times. And, we keep in touch. Thanks for your concern.
March 24, 2020
From Ron Wooten, Regional Director of Eastern & Sub-Saharan Africa
Updates on the Missionaries in East Africa
Today, SHARON and I started our second week of complete quarantine. In my personal opinion, there is no great risk here. The government has only announced that there are seven cases in Kenya and similar numbers in surrounding countries. South Africa has more than the rest of Africa.
GAILYA LIST is doing great. She is very busy attending and leading prayer meetings, a home bible study, and visiting the sick in hospitals and doing outreach. She plans to come to US around mid-June or July for routine doctors appointments.
KEVIN AND SUMMER SNEED are doing well. Kevin’s parents were supposed to be here this week, but the COVID-19 changed all that. They were also planning a Bible school graduation for the first week of April, but that has been canceled. They are doing well, and we see them quite often as they have to come to Nairobi for doctors’ appointments or shopping trips, etc. Kevin was able to make his first visit to Uganda to do a Bible school class just before the virus hit.
MICHAEL AND LESLIE TIGNOR have returned to Rwanda, and we are thankful to have them back on the field with their son, Josiah. Sharon and I visited them the week they arrived. They are doing good and now have to learn to balance the responsibilities of both work and raising a baby.
JAMIE AND JESSICA DUNNING are doing great. Like the Sneeds, Jessica’s parents were coming for a visit, but I am sure those plans are now on the back burner. They are working hard, and with the financial crisis facing all of us, their work is going to be heavy in the next months.
GREG AND LATOYA McCLERKIN are on furlough in the U.S.
MATTHEW AND IRIS WONG are doing very good. With experiencing some changes to their support, I have been very concerned about how they are going to make it financially. I am even more concerned at this point. They work very hard and have a good congregation and work. I hope they can financially keep their support up with all the economic changes.
MICHAEL AND TAMMY McRAE arrived back in January from an extended furlough, but due to the virus, they will both return to the U.S. Michael had several wells he was planning. They were also assisting in the International Church in Nairobi when they could.
RHONDA WOOD is working well in Eastern Uganda. She is instrumental in helping with the long process of registering our church as a NGO. I visited the work late last year and Kevin Sneed was just there a few months ago. The work is going well.
LAURA WARREN arrived in January and hit the ground running. Because she has been here several times, she had some connections. She is not the kind that sits around. She is very active.
The airport is closed and the borders are as well. All are weathering the times well. We are all semi-quarantined and are supposed to get out only for getting groceries, etc.
From Russell Board, Regional Director of Continental Asia
Status of Continental Asia Missionaries
HIRO & ERYN BAMBA, JAPAN: So far, Japan is more lenient than other countries with restrictions on movement and activities. The Bambas continue to direct the children’s ministry at church, which has instituted sanitizing precautions but has not suspended weekly services. Their English classes are on spring break but are scheduled to start again in early April. Shortages on toilet paper and tissues are easing up.
CHASE & KRISTINA, NEPAL: Chase and Kristina began making preparations weeks ago by stocking their freezer and getting extra tanks of fuel for vehicles, cooking, and hot water. Countrywide lockdown was instituted on March 24. Airport and borders are closed. Only essential travel is permitted on roads. Churches in Kathmandu valley are not meeting, according to government recommendations. Mercy is being homeschooled at present.
RAEHA BUTLER, CHINA: Raeha has been living under some level of quarantine for six weeks. She has coped well, maintaining strong faith and good spirits, while following government guidelines on going out for shopping. She reports that quarantine has mostly been lifted and daily life is returning to normal. Schools remain closed for now. Strict quarantine remains in place for travelers entering China.
ALBERT & JIEP GONZALES, THAILAND: Temporary closure and restrictions on mass gatherings (including churches) in Bangkok were instituted by the government for March 18-31. Having stocked up in advance, Albert & Jiep are sheltering in their house outside the city. Prayer and worship services have shifted to online. Pastors and leaders remain in contact with church members to check on their safety.
VIJAY & APARANJANI BALLA, BANGLADESH: Total nationwide shutdown was declared beginning March 26 through April 4. Schools have been closed since March 18. Shopping malls are closed. Churches have switched to online services. The children at Frances Carter hostel remain on site. It is challenging to purchase provisions for them, as there are restrictions on buying in quantity.
MERLYN LAMANILAO, CAMBODIA: All schools are closed, and religious gatherings prohibited. Merlyn met with the pastors ahead of time to pray and prepare for this, encouraging them to use online streaming if possible and to stay in touch with their members by phone. There is not a total lockdown, as banks, markets, and some restaurants and malls remain open. Borders to Thailand and Vietnam are closed.
From Dan Clowers, Regional Director of Central America
Just to bring you up to date with Central America (CA), they are doing well. I have been in touch with each of my leaders and, basically, our countries in CA are in the same stage and level as Oklahoma. Cases are small but precaution is high. All countries are closed to international travel, except Nicaragua. BRENDA and I were in Costa Rica when most of this broke, so we decided it was best for Brenda to return to the States. I stayed after our team canceled and decided to do some work on the property since I was there. I got the word four days later that Costa Rica was closing the airport to incoming, so I decided to get back to the U.S. I arrived the day before Trump closed our borders to international flights.
We are in some crazy times, but each of my leaders has reported that the churches are well, and they are experiencing great blessing in trying the new online church services. I pray they are spared from the effects of this virus. I was glad that CA was proactive in shutting the borders even before other countries.
From Steve Cofer, Interim Regional Director of Caribbean & West Indies
JUDY LIVAN, SPOUSE OF BISHOP LIVAN, PHC Guyana (Direct Message): [Due to] COVID-19, we now have to make a decision with our churches. Bishop Livan is saying we need to cancel all services in all our IPHC Churches here in Guyana. This is serious, so we will do that with your permission because all our pastors and the people are very skeptical with this disease. We are having a lot of people running into our churches now, but our country is asking for us to stay home. We are praying for everyone. Thank you for all your prayers. Bishop wanted you to know our country needs a lot of prayers also. Please let us know what we can do to help our people here in Guyana, as most [have been] laid off of their work; most people don't have food and are calling for us to take food to them. This is so hard. We want to help the older ones and the parents with a lot of kids. We don't know if we could get help, but we know God knows best.
We appreciate all your prayers and God bless and keep us all.
March 23, 2020
March 23, 2020
From Harold Presley, Regional Director of Northwest Europe
Everyone in NW Europe is a-okay. One concern is the household of BISHOP JOHN AGBENORTO, our UK leader. They have fever and coughs. His adult daughter says she thinks it is simply a normal flu since she is better now. They have not been able to get tested for the COVID-19.
The red-light districts have been shutdown in Amsterdam, Antwerp, and Aachen. Those folks are always diseased and in desperate need, but now they are also broke. So, MATT & FEMKE HELLAND need extra money and prayers to cope. Femke said she had 200 people personally request help last, Thursday and Friday.
JEANNIE MCCLUNG is simply shut out from helping. She says many of her people simply went home, which is NOT a respite for them. Of course, it affects some of the ministry GRETCHEN SCHWARTZ leads, as well.
All NW Europe ministries have been well engaged with ministry during the required "shutdown" and social distancing: online services, conference call prayer meetings, and even personal visits to the vulnerable. TODD PRESLEY reported that he has had people coming to his house literally to confess their sins and seek prayer. Nothing like a pandemic to scare the hell out of people! He has also purchased food hampers to take to families who were unable to get out, and some of the London pastors have done the same.
We NW Europe missionaries held an online (Zoom) prayer session together last Friday (20 March) morning. BILL SCHWARTZ was the point-man for that. It was open to all; nine (9) were able to participate.
From Joe Delport, Regional Director of Southern Africa
I just want to update you on the situation in Southern Africa regarding our missionaries. I keep in touch with them frequently and encourage them to listen and adhere to the government regulations concerning COVID-19.
ALTHEA MEYER is in Blantyre, Malawi, and staying home. Being one of the poorest countries in Africa, people have to be very vigilant and take all precautions.
I spoke to YASINTA MREMA this morning, and she is doing well, also staying homebound. Thieves broke into her house on Sunday morning while she was at church and stole her TV, which she bought two weeks ago, but, fortunately, that was all. She suspects it is her neighbor who knows her movements.
DAVID & MICHELLE RILEY and family are doing well; they went to be with her sister and her family yesterday who have a farm near what used to be Pietersburg, in Limpopo province. They might be safer there with the virus epidemic. They will monitor the situation from there.
MAGGIE and I are doing well, just observing the virus situation every day. The infection rate has doubled in two days from 204 to 402 today. Although the government has implemented some restrictions, President Ramaphosa is going to address the nation again tonight. There is talk of more limitations on movement of people. We are closing down most of the activities at the compound here. Although Maggie and I will still come to the office, we will limit our movements and keep our ears to the ground.
This is not an easy time for all people across the world. We pray that this epidemic will soon pass.
March 22, 2020
March 22, 2020
From Tim Salley, Regional Director of the Pacific
Our three career missionary units (DEBRA CROOK, DOUGLAS & REMY BARTON, and AL ARGO) are all under quarantine order in the Philippines. Our national missionary, JOULE & MYLA BONUS, are currently quarantined in Malaysia.
TIM & BETH SALLEY are all but quarantined in Singapore. From today, March 23, no short-term visitors, or transit travelers, will be allowed in Singapore.
Our GKKI Congress in Indonesia (equivalent to General Conference) that was scheduled for April 1-3, 2020, has been cancelled.
The last I heard from our Myanmar leader (last week), there are still no cases in that country. Obviously, they are not testing people.
Australia is on total lockdown; no one is allowed into the country.
I've heard from some of our national folks. In the poorer areas, things are bad since folks are being told to not go anywhere, so no work is being done. Social nets in these places are nonexistent. So, we have sent some funds to Indonesia today to help some of our church folks with getting some food. Of course, the needs will increase, but we won't be able to meet everything that will be asked of us. This is very
Our Bible schools are closed; our churches are closed. Most physical contact ministry has ceased in almost all areas. For those with the ability, online ministry, encouragement, and support are being given from our level to the national leaders and at the local level from our front-line pastors to their members.
May the Lord bring a quick end to this. It's very concerning for all our missionaries that we are far away from our families back home.