There’s Still Joy in Southeast Asia

We count it a joy and an honor to be here in Southeast Asia during this time. There are moments when we think that it would be easier to be home near our family and our son, who is at the university in California. However, we know there are many people who haven’t heard the story of hope and redemption in this country.

Our Father has encouraged us this week to remember that we are not alone, for He is closer to us than any of our family could ever be.

Since the first week of January, we became aware of COVID-19. Because our country is one of the popular tourist locations for Chinese mainlanders, the government quickly put some barriers in place for protection. However, there was a large Islamic missionary gathering with 16,000 attendants on February 27. Many attendants were from outside of the country and over 5,000 were locals. Thus far, there are over 300 infected people who attended, and the numbers are growing daily with the development of 400 new cases.

Last week, the government announced that we would be on movement control through March 31. We will not be allowed to leave our homes, except to buy food and medicines. Transportation and gas stations are only available for emergencies and essential travel to far-off markets. They will begin roadblocks and check every car to ensure that people are going where they need to.

In our township, people follow the rules. We live in a large neighborhood that is very established and quieter than some areas of our city. All amenities have been closed, and there are no social gatherings in common areas. We aren’t allowed to have any visitors at this time either. We are fortunate that we can walk seven minutes from here to a local Quick Mart. We haven’t traveled by taxi to the larger grocery market yet, as we are afraid that officials will stop us and ask why we’re traveling so far when we have a closer market. No restaurants are open, but some have delivery options or take out if you can walk to it.

During this time of lockdown, you may find yourself asking, “What can I do in a situation where I’m staying at home all day?”

We’ve decided to watch sermons online, pray for people, and worship so that when we have a chance, we are ready to share His help with others. We had the idea to buy basic items to give to people, such as teabags, tea cookies, rice, and chocolate. Along with these items, we’re writing a short note to tell people that we are praying for them and to remind them that they’re not alone. We also have a box outside our door for neighbors to drop in their prayer requests. Our condominium is mixed with Malay (Muslim), Indian (Hindu), and Chinese (Buddhist, Daoist, and maybe 2-4 Christ Followers), as well as a couple from France and Germany. Today, we opened the door as we worshiped, hoping that our neighbors will hear us rejoicing and become full of peace. Maybe it will open a door for us to enter into their lives.

Right now, there are limited international flights, if any at all. However, we feel confident that the Father still has us here for a reason. It’s extremely hard at some moments, especially with our son being in the U.S. and the schools being closed here. We were partnering with an education foundation that helps refugees from Middle East and South Asian countries, as well as urban poor and indigenous peoples of the eastern island of our country. But, this is the real test: will we trust God—no matter what?

We are grateful for the prayers of the Brentwood Baptist campuses. Please pray that we will remain healthy and that God will use us to share His peace to people, who have so many questions right now. We are also thankful for your financial giving, too. We do have some financial needs at this time, as a church in Georgia decided that they would not support us this year. Please pray that the Father would bring new supporters.

We love our little community here, and we are continuing to meet new people weekly. Just this week, we have met three new people. Please pray for them: Abraham (Malay Muslim), Mrs. Liew (Chinese Buddhist), and Akhbar (Malay Muslim). Also, we ask that you pray for our refugee friend, Suhayla (Palestine), and for our coffee friend, Samantha (Chinese Daoist).

We love you, and you are a blessing to us.

—Wes & Tamara, Global Workers (Southeast Asia)