New housing needed

Sometimes life seems to go from one crisis to another.  For those who follow Jesus, the good news is that God is always there and that there are brothers and sisters around the world who can help.

Once again, we ask you to pray for our dear friends, Thun Tun and Eh Shun.  Once again they are facing a difficult situation.  The apartment complex they have lived in since arriving in the States was sold last year to a different management group.  This group has decided not to renew many of the leases of current occupants — including Thun and many of former refugees — so that the apartments can be rented to people at risk of homelessness.

Thun Tun and Eh Shun’s lease expires at the end of February.  They would like to try to stay in the same school districts so that their two older children can finish their grade levels at their current schools.  The neighborhoods in these school districts are rather expensive.  Thun Tun has not worked since being diagnosed with cancer in September 2013.  They currently receive some housing assistance but we are unsure whether this assistance will be transferable.

Thank God for His promises to never leave or forsake His people.  Thank God that Thun Tun and Eh Shun’s faith has remained constant.  Praise God for the hope He has given them even in the face of a seemingly unending series of challenges.   Praise God for their generous hearts and their willingness to give out of (what looks to the world as) poverty.

Please ask God to provide a new home for Thun Tun and Eh Shun soon.  Pray that He will provide for a security deposit and for each monthly rent.  Pray that their children will be able to have school environments where they can thrive.

Please also continue to pray for Thun Tun’s complete healing from cancer.  Pray that his ability to swallow, taste foods and hear well will return.

Pray that this family will be more firmly convinced of God’s goodness and His presence in their lives.  Pray that others will see their commitment to follow Christ and be drawn to Him too.

Ten years! What’s next?

A couple weeks ago marked the tenth anniversary of TIBM as a chartered church.*  We praise God for bringing us this far!  We also thank Him for crossing our paths with so many people from different places and backgrounds and for letting us see some of His wonderful work along the way.

Continue reading “Ten years! What’s next?”

Needing a New Worship and Ministry Space: Update!

Last summer, the building used by many of TIBM’s ministries and congregations was sold, becoming no longer available.  So far, the Lord has not yet provided one worship and ministry space where we can all meet.  Please continue to pray for this need.  Here is what is going on now:

Tensae Church is meeting on Sundays in another church building.  For their Bible studies and prayer meetings, they must meet in people’s homes.  Pastor Talargie does not have an office to meet people or to prepare sermons.  Please pray that the Lord will provide for Tensae’s needs for space for all weekly activities.

For much of the time since last summer, Karen Baptist Church met in people’s homes for their worship services.  Most of the weeks, they had one meeting in the Wheaton area and another in the Aurora.  About one Sunday a month, they tried to all meet together.  Very recently, Karen Baptist Church began meeting in another church building.  Pray that this new location will work out well and that new, mutually edifying partnerships will form.  Pray also that the Lord will multiply gifts as the church members save toward purchasing a building.

ESL met outdoors by apartment complexes during the summer but did not continue classes during the fall or winter due to a lack of space.  Similarly, International Youth Group met outside in a park as long as they could before the weather became too cold.  Please pray that God will provide a suitable space for English classes and youth group.  Pray also that He will provide more workers for both ministries.

A Karen Friend with Cancer: Update!

In September, we asked you to pray for our friend Thun Tun who had just been diagnosed with cancer. (See here for some of our background with Thun Tun’s family.) The medical team is hopeful that by the end of his treatment, the cancer will be gone. However, the treatment has been very difficult on Thun Tun and he has had many complications. He has very little ability to swallow and must receive most of his nutrition through a feeding tube into his stomach. Right now, he is in the hospital for pneumonia.

Please pray for Thun Tun’s complete healing — from pneumonia, from cancer, and from his limited ability to swallow. Pray that there will be clear communication between Thun Tun’s family and the medical staff. Pray that speech therapy and exercises will help Thun Tun quickly regain muscle movement in his mouth and neck so that he can once again enjoy the taste of food.

Pray that the Lord will provide for all of the family’s financial needs, including medical bills, rent, and the ability to sort through all the paperwork. Pray that when Thun Tun has recovered, that he will be able to return to work.

Please pray that the family will be strengthened emotionally and spiritually. Pray that they will have joy and hope each morning and each night. Pray Thun Tun and Eh Shun’s faith in the Lord during this difficult time will leave a positive, lasting impression on their three children to trust Him. Pray that many brothers and sisters in the Lord will be faithful to encourage and support them.

A Karen Friend with Cancer

We’ve asked for prayers many times for a particular Karen family close to us.  If you already know Eh Shun and Thun Tun & their story, you can skip ahead to the bold part.  If you don’t them, read on for part of the ongoing testimony of our friends.

Eh Shun and Thun Tun are dear to us because we’ve walked alongside them the whole time they have lived in the States, through times of joy and sorrow.  When they arrived as refugees from Burma/Myanmar (by way of Thailand) in 2008, we helped welcome them to their first apartment and, with the help of a partnering church, gave them basic items like towels, pots and pans, toothbrushes, onions.  Very soon after that, with the help of Pastor Soe Rah, we shared with them the story of God’s good news.  Eh Shun and Thun Tun, along with their daughter, soon decided to follow Jesus and to make their decision public through baptism later that year.  (Their oldest son was very young at the time.)   Thun Tun, the husband/father, put their faith this way, “We will follow Jesus until the day that we die.”

Around the time of the baptisms, Eh Shun found out she was pregnant.   Her mom back in Thailand told her a “witch doctor” said the baby would not live.  Even when the ultrasound showed the baby had developmental abnormalities and some of the doctors suggested an abortion, Eh Shun and Thun Tun wanted to have the baby because “God made the baby.”  Baby David lived, lavished by love, for just over three weeks before, as God revealed to Eh Shun in a dream, going to play with Jesus.  Their young faith in Jesus, though challenged, stood firm.

Last year, after a somewhat complicated pregnancy, Eh Shun gave birth to another son.  Although the doctors are keeping an eye on his kidneys, Jonathan is overall healthy and growing well.  Like his siblings, he is a cute kid.

Over the years, we have brought many of the week-long volunteers and summer interns to meet Eh Shun and Thun Tun.  The family has always shown an abundance of hospitality and generosity — not just of food but also of their own story.  We have been blessed over and over again by their friendship and being able to walk through life with them.   Just last week, we rejoiced when Eh Shun took her oath to become a US citizen.

This past weekend, Thun Tun went to the hospital because of a painful lymph node.  The medical team informed him that he has a very life-threatening cancer.  They plan on starting radiation treatment soon.  The family has not yet talked with the oncologist or received the results of the scan, so we don’t know many details yet.

Please pray that God will bring healing to Thun Tun.  Pray that the Lord will strengthen this family’s faith.  Ask God to give the family peace and comfort as they deal with this troubling news.  Pray that the Body of Christ will pour love onto this family through prayer, fellowship and meeting practical needs.  May the devil’s efforts to destroy and discourage this family be utterly fruitless.  Pray that God’s goodness and faithfulness to this family will be evident to all through the quick, miraculous healing of Thun Tun.

Needing a New Worship and Ministry Space

Last week, TIBM was informed that we have until late June to vacate the church building that we have used since 2006.  (The building was sold to another church.)  We must now quickly look for a space (or spaces) to accommodate our ESL ministry, the International Youth Group, Tensae Church, Karen Baptist Church, and TriEak Parmeshwar Mandali.  We would greatly appreciate your frequent prayers for this situation until the Lord provides the space.

First, we praise God for blessing us with the use of the former building for the past seven years.  We thank God for the way these churches and ministries were able to present the good news of Jesus Christ multiple times each week and to grow spiritually over time.  We praise God that many people from all over the world who had never heard the Truth before walked into that building and meaningfully encountered Truth.

Second, we grieve over the lack of unity and brotherly love which led to the current situation.  We humbly ask God to reveal in what ways we have grieved the Spirit that we might repent & receive forgiveness.  May the light of Christ shine into the hearts and relationships where there has been miscommunication, cross-cultural misunderstanding, and misplaced priorities.  We ask our heavenly Father to rip out any roots of bitterness.  We ask the Lord, by God’s grace, to bring a new sense of unity and sacrificial love to His people.

Finally, we ask God give us a deeper trust of His provision for all our needs.  May we not rely on our strength and resources (or panic) but constantly seek His face and His kingdom (and believe).  We pray against discouragement during this time of waiting and searching, especially for the leaders of the churches and ministries.  May these churches and ministries be faithful to continue in obedience during these uncertain circumstances.  We pray that the Lord will minimize the negative impact of this situation on His work among the diaspora peoples in Chicagoland and instead will position these churches and ministries for the expansion of His kingdom among diaspora peoples.  We trust God to provide the right location for the right price.

A Project-related Look Ahead at 2013

Here are some of the long-term projects we believe TIBM will be engaged in this next year.  Only the Lord knows what will happen.  Please join us in lifting these up before Him.

We hope to reboot 1Stone, a student ministry at COD, to act sort of like a collegiate extension of our International Youth Group.  With a growing number of students from IYG and various daughter churches now attending COD, we believe now is an opportune time for this group to form.  We also recognize great possibilities for interfaith dialogue with members of the Muslim Student Association.  Please pray that diaspora and “next gen” students at COD will gather together to learn from the life of Jesus.

TriEak Parmeshwar Mandali saw some major changes in 2012 due to various families moving and significant changes in the spiritual landscape of the community.  One priority for the church is to build up a new leadership team, made primarily of people who have not been following Christ for over three years.  Given some of Cody’s travel plans this year, one goal is that the leadership team would be able to take care of most of his pastoral responsibilities when he is away.  Please pray that the Lord will strengthen the faith of these brothers and sisters, help them to grow into maturity together and equip them to lead others in following Christ.  Pray that they will understand and accept the importance of building this team.

We expect to increase our efforts to mobilize and equip others for diaspora ministry.  We will continue hosting short term volunteer teams and summer interns and sharing our experiences at conferences and through publications.  We also hope to be more involved in partnering with local believers.  Please pray that the Lord will help us to effectively communicate what He has shown us and done through us with His people.

Karen Baptist Church of Glen Ellyn is taking small steps toward becoming a more independent church financially.  There are big differences between the accounting structures practiced among the Karen in Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand and those recommended and/or legally required in the U.S.  Several young students are learning how to properly record offerings, how to make deposits in the bank, how to use spreadsheets to track money, and so on.  Please pray that these students will learn how to manage the church’s money according to the U.S. systems.  Pray that they will honor the Lord with their personal finances as they mature.

We also plan on helping create a people group indicator map of Chicagoland.  This map will help identify, for our interests in particular, which diaspora groups are where.  This map will need to be consistently updated, but it will hopefully help increase awareness of “the people on the move” which will lead to increased engagement of these people.  Please pray the Lord will help those creating this map to work accurately and diligently (as it may be tedious at times).  Pray that this map will be a useful tool to facilitate the spread of the good news of Jesus Christ.

The Nations in Waterloo, Iowa

One of the aspects of diaspora ministry is that many of “the people on the move” keep moving.  For example, the Karen lived in Burma (Myanmar) but many were forced to flee to Thailand due to ethnic persecution.  As U.N. designated refugees, the Karen were later invited to resettle into countries like the United States.  Like all refugees, the Karen were resettled first into cities with resettlement agencies; like many refugees, some Karen have moved once, twice, or more to find good jobs.  So, several years after the Karen refugees first settled in the States, there are now Karen families living in relatively small cities like Waterloo, Iowa.

One such Karen family used to be active members of Karen Baptist Church in Glen Ellyn.  The wife was one of the Sunday school teachers.  Because the Karen families in Waterloo do not have a pastor, Pastor Soe Rah has been traveling there regularly.  Please pray that the Karen families in Waterloo would follow Christ and grow closer to Him.

Pray that Pastor Soe Rah and other ordained Karen pastors would be able to give spiritual leadership and guidance to those families around the country who do not live close to a pastor.   Pray that the Lord will continue to raise up Karen men and women to lead and strengthen Karen followers of Jesus.  Pray that those Karen who have yet to hear about the good news of Christ will have opportunities to encounter Him through His people.

Pray that the Lord will empower Karen Christ-followers to reach out to other diaspora families living in Waterloo — other Burmese groups as well as Bhutanese, Somalis, and so on.

The Good News for Very Young Lives and Their Families

Today we ask you to pray for a specific family and for a specific organization.

Please ask God to heal Eh Shun and Thun Tun’s baby boy, Jonathan.  We’ve asked for prayer for this baby before and for this family before that when their baby boy David was born and struggled to live.  After three weeks, David passed away.  Jonathan is about five months old and, while his health is okay overall, one of his kidneys does not seem to be functioning properly.  Tomorrow (Tuesday) the doctors will perform a test on Jonathan’s kidney.  Please pray that Jonathan will keep calm enough during the procedure so that he will not have to be sedated and that everything — getting to the hospital, finding the vein, etc. — will go smoothly.  Ask God to give wisdom to the medical team.  Pray that the Lord will heal this kidney.  Pray that He will strengthen Eh Shun and Thun Tun’s trust in Him and help them to not be afraid.

While baby David was at the hospital, TIBM witnessed some of the unique challenges faced by parents with children in the NICU.  These families face immense physical, emotional, financial and spiritual strains.  Whatever their religious backgrounds may be, they need to experience and hear good news.

So please ask God to use Eli’s Hope, a non-profit organization founded by TIBM’s friends Jeromy and Jessica Guthrie, to bring the hope and wholeness of Jesus Christ to families of all nations.  Jessica relates how their own experience, by God’s grace, led them to start this non-profit.  Motivated by the love of Christ, Eli’s Hope at partnered hospitals provides gift bags, organizes support activities, and offers assistance to families in other practical ways.  When volunteers with Eli’s Hope pray for families, may the Lord bring healing to what is broken.  Please pray that a major fundraising event on Sept. 20 in Chicago will be helpful financially to Eli’s Hope but also deeply encouraging to the parents of premature babies.

Reunited families in need of “a new thing”

Very recently, two different families celebrated being able to be together again after the husbands/fathers’ long absences.  These families have each had histories of strained marriages and parent-child relationships,  so we ask you to join us in prayer that the Lord would do “a new thing” in these families.

We praise God for the joy the S and T families have felt in being reunited, knowing that every good and perfect gift comes from our heavenly Father.

Pray that the Lord will strengthen these two marriages.  May the husbands grow in their love for their wives, learning to love them selflessly and sacrificially.  May the wives grow in their respect for their husbands and encourage their husbands to draw closer to the Lord.

Pray that the Lord will repair the relationships between parents and children.  Ask God to give wisdom to the parents on how to raise their children (some of whom are not children anymore).  Pray that the children will honor their parents.

Pray that God will enable these families to be patient and kind with each other.  Pray that they will not be easily angered and that they will forgive quickly.   Ask God to guard their speech — that they would avoid saying things that maliciously tear down but instead offer encouragement and gentle correction.  May God remove the work of any harmful spirits and fill their homes with His special presence.  May the Lord break apart the old unhealthy patterns and attitudes and put Christ-like thoughts and behaviors within each family member.

As with any family, “unless the Lord builds a house, those who build it labor in vain.”  The difficulties the S and T families have faced are so well known in their communities that for them to experience healing and wholeness would have to be acknowledged as the work of the Lord.  Please pray!