By Mr Lim Eng
Making sense of life is mind-boggling. We are worth more than the sparrows and our very hairs on our heads are all numbered. Yet sparrows still fall and hairs drop from chemotherapy. Sithon, one of our first batch EquipAsia (EA) graduates from Laos was incarcerated for more than a year since mid-March 2020 for preaching the Gospel. Globally, COVID-19 continues to disrupt lives. Our EA ministries in Bhutan, Cambodia and Laos suffered. On the home-front, we had to postpone the training of our second EA intake from 2020 to 2021. Consequently, several selected participants dropped out. With the recent military coup, Myanmar is in a state of flux. Mongolia announced a nation-wide lockdown from 10 to 25 April as COVID-19 numbers surged. Uncertainties abound.
How then can we navigate through this conundrum? We remember! Good Friday reminds us that evil does not have the last word. Remembering our finitude humbles us to depend on Christ who rose victoriously from the dead on Easter some 2,000 years ago. And even when we do not understand, we can still trust in His goodness. He will accomplish His sovereign purpose through our fractured world and broken lives. This weekend, we commence our 3-week EA program (from 25 April to 14 May 2021). Altogether we had combed through close to 60 applications for this second intake. We have grafted in new participants and included India (Chennai). For this run, we have 12 participants: Mongolia–4, India–4 and Indonesia–4. But the remaining 4 from Myanmar would have to wait owing to temporary non-availability of mobile data and intermittent Internet coverage in Myanmar.
Steering through stormy waters can be precarious. Just when we managed to fix the training dates, 5 of the original participants indicated their inability to join us. Recruitment efforts had to be re-doubled. A barrage of phone calls, interviews and internal evaluation ensued before final selection. Even then, we could not find another candidate from Bandung in Indonesia. We have 3 candidates from Bali and 1 from Bandung. Whilst we have 4 candidates from Myanmar, only 1 is from Yangon; the rest live far away. Potentially, this would mean greater inconveniences for conducting subsequent in-country training. EA graduates typically have to work in pairs. Unlike our maiden EA run which was conducted in Singapore, this second EA training is a hybrid arrangement. The participants from the 3 countries have to congregate in their respective selected home location overseas while the teachers are in Singapore. God willing, we will bring them to Singapore next year. Then there are time differences. Thankfully, Bali (Indonesia) and Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) are on the same time zone with us. However, Chennai (India) is 2.5 hours and Myanmar, 1.5 hours behind Singapore respectively. To aggravate matters, we squeezed what was originally a 4-week program into 3 weeks. Lots of juggling and rework just so to evolve a workable timetable for all.
Concurrently, teachers and helpers in Singapore have to tackle the technology factor. What teaching medium and platform should we use? What equipment must we have, locally and overseas? Would this equipment be readily available overseas? What about Internet or mobile data reliability? Could technology compensate the lack of in-classroom, face-to-face interactive learning? Could we constructively assist the participants in their daily translation workshops and assess their weekly practicum sessions? Would EA 2021 be effective and meaningful? The timetable is packed. Mongolia’s participation as one gathered group is uncertain. Questions abound.
But we remember! God has placed brothers and sisters in our midst and they readily shared with us their use of technology in the marketplace. God has blessed us with tech-savvy individuals to render both local and overseas support. We will record the teaching so that those affected could avail themselves to the teaching material at a later date. We have witnessed how God has been moving individuals to give, pray and support the EA ministry since its inception and through COVID-19. It fills our hearts with gratitude and grants us renewed courage to press on. God granted our teachers resilience and courage to step out by faith into uncharted waters. But more than anything else, God reminded us that it is never about us, for “unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain” (Ps 127:1). He alone is God!
Therefore Beloved, let us remember what a great God we have. Pray with us for the following:
That God alone be glorified as we conduct the on-going second EA training till 14 May 2021.
That God watches over all involved and protects them physically and spiritually from harm.
That this second batch of EA participants would be effectively equipped and be faithful trainers.
That God equips our teachers and helpers to be His worthy instruments for conducting EA.
That EA participants be able to bond in-country, across countries and with our members who participate in the Culture & Gospel program.
That God’s kingdom work in Bhutan, Cambodia and Laos will continue despite COVID-19. We praise God for answered prayers, Sithon was finally released on 9 April.
That we all REMEMBER – God’s word will never return to Him void. He is faithful.
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