Jennifer Blandin, a UB missionary in Macau, commented the recent headlines in her latest newsletter.

“The nightly news is full of daily statistics from the SARS outbreak. Yes, Macau is very close to Hong Kong, but yet far enough away to not have a single case of SARS! I know that this unbelievable, but the World Health Organization confirmed it last week. I’m calling it like I see it, a blessing from God. Something that has not been on the nightly news is how it is affecting the people of Hong Kong. I think the initial shock and fear has worn off, but there will possibly be long-lasting affects on people’s trust. People don’t know who to trust anymore. Their government was slow in reacting, their money could not cure them, and the doctors they trusted were the ones getting sick. While I don’t like seeing people get sick or be scared, it is a time when a lot of people in Hong Kong are thinking about who they can trust. A great time to point them to the One they can trust –Jesus!

“Due to this SARS disease and the thought that it is spread by droplets of people’s “water” going through the air, there is now a campaign to stop people from spitting. From little babies to grandparents, Chinese people know how to spit. It could almost be considered a sport. But there is now a fine of $60 if you are caught spitting on the streets. Since the new fine has been put in place, I haven’t heard of anyone getting fined. But I have wondered if I could charge the fine to anyone I have seen spitting!

“The war in Iraq has brought about mixed views. The topic has brought about some lively discussions, but we’ve felt no “backlash” because we are Americans. While people may have differing views of the war, we are friends first!”

Here are a variety of news items sent in April from Hong Kong National Conference.

Myanmar. Planning is underway to raise $50,000 to buy a new Language Center. Carmen Chin will return to Hong Kong in May to prepare for the delivery of her second child.

Thailand. Rev. H. M. Lee has employed another mail preacher to assist the work of the center and the church. A short-term mission trip from Hong Kong to Thailand has been postponed due to the SARS epidemic.

Sri Lanka. Bridget Ho, a member of Hong Kong Conference, is serving with Operation Mobilization in Sri Lanka. She is involved in voluntary work in a children’s centre, in teaching English, and in distributing rice. She is looking for suitable churches for mission work.

Jana Hoobler sent these notes:

  • Our Bible Study students on Taipa are asking more and more difficult questions about the Bible. Praise the Lord that they are reading the Bible on their own. One student from Thailand told me last week that she looked on the web and found a Thai New Testament that she can look up to read the passage we’ll be studying before our meeting each week. Another student came in with questions about this week’s story before we even met, because she’d been preparing at home. Pray for wisdom as we respond to their questions. Praise the Lord that they are searching His Word at home as well as at our center.
  • I’m thankful for my Mom this Mother’s Day, and all the time she invested in teaching me about God. She led me to Christ in our kitchen when I was around five years old. I’m so thankful for this Christian heritage that most of my Chinese friends have gone without.
  • Ava, a member of Living Water Church, is a student at Macau University on Taipa. She is trying to get a small group Bible Study started with some of her classmates and professors that will meet at our center. Pray that they will be able to find a time that they can all meet.

Luanne Brooks, missionary to Haiti, writes about Easter activities she was part of.

“n Good Friday we visited the pool of St. Jacque. This is a voodoo holy place. My heart broke as I watched a couple of men and women worshiping Satan. I cried as I watched a woman dip a cup into that filthy slimy pool and drink from it as an act of worship.

“On Saturday we went to a village and passed out Bibles and radios that are fixed-tuned to the Christian radio station. I spoke to a young man who thought he was too young to be converted to Christianity. He believed he still had time to have fun. I read to him from John 3:16 in Creole. I asked him if he were to die today, would he not want to spend eternity with God. He said he didn’t believe there was life after this one. There are hundreds of thousands just like this young man. People who have been tricked by the witch doctors into believing that they should live only for today, that there is no tomorrow.

“Many of the local missionaries gathered on Sunday morning for a beautiful sunrise service on the lawn of the radio station. Afterwards we fellowshiped together with a carry-in breakfast.”

  • On Good Friday, Living Water Church held a foot-washing service. Living Word Church had a simple potluck at one church member’s home, followed by a time of worship and reflection. On Saturday, Living Word Church took over 20 children on a field trip to Coloane, one of Macau’s islands.
  • On Easter Sunday, both churches held evangelistic meetings. In the afternoon Living Water Church had a picnic, hiking, and paddleboat rides at a reservoir.
  • We had a good Easter Celebration on Taipa on Sunday evening. It wasn’t as big of a crowd as we’ve had for some other events, but most of these are the families of women who are attending English Bible Studies. Pray that a core group of believers will develop on Taipa!
  • On March 30, the Macau United Brethren in Christ Association celebrated its 15th anniversary. Representatives from Living Water Church, Living Word Church, the ELP, and Hong Kong Conference participated in a worship celebration service. Hong Kong Superintendent Peter Lee gave us a quick history lesson on the denomination and Hong Kong Pastor Mark Choi shared the message for the afternoon. We are thankful for God’s faithfulness over the past 15 years!
  • We need wisdom as we plan for events this summer–English classes for adults, teens, and children, and VBS. Many things are up in the air due to the continuing SARS concerns.
  • The government still has not accepted our financial reports for our first year-and-a-half of ELP classes on Taipa. They are asking more and more questions concerning how the income from our classes is used to support our church work. Pray that they will approve the reports without us having to make any major changes in how our finances are set up and that we’ll be granted non-profit status. This continues to be a stressful and time-consuming process, especially for Jennifer Blandin.

Wes and Jean Bell write about Easter in Brazil. “Here in Brazil, Good Friday is considered a Catholic holiday and is not celebrated in many Protestant circles. Traditional Easter hymns are not sung unless there is strong missionary influence. Some churches are adopting the early morning breakfast, but not a sunrise service. The church we attend did a play along with choreography of two modern music pieces. Chocolate eggs are highly commercialized, but the general atmosphere does not seem nearly as festive as at New Year’s.”

Luanne Brooks, UB missionary serving with OMS in Haiti, sent this report, which is both heart-rending and heart-warming.

“Today I met a young girl named Ketteline. Ketteline is 16 years old and she is dying. Maybe within the next few days. She weighs 65 pounds and is the thinnest person I have ever seen. She had difficulty walking into the clinic, and her breathing is labored. We ran a very simple test that confirmed our worst fears: she is dying of AIDS.

“When Ketteline was just a small child, a horrible monster (my words, not hers) violated her. She is one of the countless s who are suffering the consequences of this hopeless disease. Her mother was devastated by the news. Ketteline sat quietly, numb I am sure. Not a tear from her eyes, though mine were running over so much I could hardly see. I told her Jesus loved her and is looking forward to taking her home with him. I walked with Ketteline and her mother to the chaplain as they expressed the wish to ask Jesus into their hearts. This is what it is all about, folks. The angels are rejoicing. They will soon welcome this earth angel into heaven.

“Please pray that God will send comfort to Ketteline. I pray that she will pass along peacefully into her Savior’s arms. She will never suffer again at the hands of a monster. Please pray for her mother as she has to be able to let her child go. This will not be easy for her. I have noticed the great sacrificial love these Hatian women have for their children. I know that she would take her place if she could. But very soon Ketteline will be in a safe place.”

Jana Hoobler sends these notes from Macau:

  • On Wednesday evening, a young man who’s been having Bible Study with our secretary, Michael, prayed to accept Christ as his Savior. I think he’s still unclear on some things, but it was a good first step for him. Pray that that Holy Spirit will continue to work in his heart as Michael does follow-up Bible studies with him.
  • We started an English class at a local primary school this week for 5th grade students. It meets after school. Pray that we’ll be a good testimony to these students.
  • Pray for special Easter services next weekend at Living Water, Living Word, and on Taipa. Pray that people will respond to the gospel message.

At the 15th anniversary. Sitting in front, l-r, are Jennifer Blandin (fulltime missionary), Byrdena Shuneman (short-term volunteer), Connie Sung (pastor of Living Word church), and Jana Hoobler (Macau Mission Director). Missionary Linda Neely is standing in back, third from the left.

At the 15th anniversary.

It has been 15 years since the work in Macau began. Jana Hoobler, director of the Macau English Language Program, writes about a special service to commemorate this landmark. “The 15th Anniversary Celebration went very well. Around 80 people attended. It was a good time of reflection on how God has worked and all the special memories our church members have gathered over the years.”

Jana also commented on the SARS epidemic, which has been centered in nearby Hong Kong. “So far there aren’t any official cases of SARS in Macau. Thank you to all of you who have expressed your concern for us. We’re all doing well. While many cases of the atypical pneumonia have occurred in Hong Kong, they don’t represent a very large percentage of the population. We’re being careful to wash our hands a lot!”

Missionaries Jana Hoobler (left) and Jen Blandin help volunteer missionary Byrdena Shuneman celebrate her 79th birthday.

Dan Wust, director of Arise & Shine Ministries in Honduras and an endorsed UB missionary, has been working on his Masters degree from the Huntington College Graduate School of Christian Ministries. He completed his work on March 28 and plans to graduate in May. He writes, “This training will greatly help me in my teaching role with the ministry.”

Two Honduran coworkers are also pursuing further training. “Both Tomas and Gerardo have enrolled at the Tegucigalpa Theological Seminary in their Pastoral Ministries program. They have been attending classes since March three nights a week and are working towards a two-year degree that is a preparatory program for those who do not have a high school degree and want to go on to study for their Bachelors degree. Both have expressed satisfaction in being able to study, but at the same time fear and trepidation because they, like most Honduran men, do not have a solid education background and are finding that the classes are hard and require a different kind of effort than what they expected.”

The Wust family will be in the States from June 6 through the end of July, and are available for speaking engagements.