The work is slow in the South Wales valleys – a real spiritual battle in a very deprived area – but it is progressing, especially among the youth. Praise God, we have seen several conversions and are endeavouring to disciple them in Christ.
Having to leave South Asia in 2020 due to the pandemic, I have been called to pastor a small mission hall near Aberdare, and I have joined an open air mission team for the valleys. In the meantime, we have continued our South Asia ministry online and had hoped to make short trips back.
A miraculous visa
We have had difficulty, however, getting a visa to re-enter our host country in South Asia. We were able to visit a neighbouring country several times to train pastors. But at last, in January 2023, and despite only applying for a one-month visa, I was granted a one-year visa – a miracle!
So in February and March we were finally able to reconnect face to face. We held four training conferences for pastors, in two countries. It was a joy to share fellowship with dear servants of God, who have become so precious to us over the years.
Over ten years ago God guided us to concentrate on training pastors. We were led to this area of ministry firstly, because it is biblical; secondly, because there is a great need in the majority world for sound pastoral training of grass roots pastors; and finally, because we could see that persecution was just around the corner and we did not want to cause more problems for national believers by doing evangelism. Our trip this year proved this wisdom in many ways.
In recent times, there has been intense persecution and harassment of visible church congregations. In October 2022, a group of pastors whom I have regularly taught on Zoom were arrested at a prayer meeting. Of the 13 men there, only three have obtained bail. As a result, although we visited the church we used to help pastor, they were very nervous of having foreigners meeting with them and rescinded an invitation for me to preach. This also happened at one of our church plants.
A miraculous escape
On the last day of our trip, we were both about to give our testimony and speak at an evening church service when a police jeep arrived. Unbeknown to us, at our previous conference, a video of us teaching had been uploaded to the internet and an officer had come to arrest us. However, the Lord kept that information from us, so much so that we invited him to the service. He declined and said that he would speak with us later.
… a video of us teaching had been uploaded to the internet and an officer had come to arrest us
That afternoon, we had been with the family of the local retired police chief, who are strong believers. The son and daughter, as well as another police officer who had recently become a believer, had attended our training conference. Our gracious, mighty Lord had already lined up his angels to protect us!
After the service had finished, the police officer who had come to arrest us began to interview us, but while doing so, the new police inspector phoned. He told the officer to do nothing until he arrived. When he got there, he sent the officer away, smiled, and said: “No need to be alarmed, I am a believer. This should not have happened and I will make sure it does not happen again. And I will arrange your paperwork for next time.”
Praise the Lord that, throughout all this, we knew his peace which passes understanding. We left South Asia quickly, but plan to return in the autumn. Please pray for our ongoing ministry and for the believers we seek to equip, undergoing persecution here.
M and K serve in Bible ministry and leadership training in South Asia and the UK