December 2019 - April 2020
If someone were to ask how many countries does the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation (Henceforth APBF) represent? Of the 47 countries in the Asia Pacific region APBF covers a total of 22 countries.
Uniquely placed in this part of the globe Asia Pacific region stretches from the highest mountain peak of the Himalayas to the deepest depth of the Ocean floor of Sulu sea. It is mind boggling when we look at the vastness and expanse of the world we live in but what an interesting region it is to serve God. What a privilege it is to look at the possibilities of missions across the Asia Pacific and how God is using the APBF brothers and sister to make impact in our region.
Much of the work with APBF for 2020 came to a standstill after the Covid-19 was declared Pandemic. The battle to contain and to address to the situation of the Pandemic across the world has been unprecedented. The contours of action have also been diverse with different nations taking a different step to battle this virus. Nevertheless, APBF has been in much prayer for our region, leaders, churches and congregation and in constant contact with our leaders across the region.
In a glimpse of what transpired in the past few months in APBF, here is a short brief. The last assignment of 2019 in December for the General Secretary was visiting two large conventions in the North East of India. It was a joy to attend the Annual Convention of the Evangelical Baptist Convention (EBC) in Churachandpur, Manipur along with Mr. Bijoy Sangma who is one of the Vice President of APBF. EBC is a member body of APBF with 216 local churches and mission points, 53,000 baptized believers. A convention who is passionate about the call of the Great Commission that they have sent missionaries within their state, Karbi Anglong in Assam, Dhemaji in Assam, Himalayan Mission Field including Nepal, Sikkim, and even Thailand, Vietnam and China. While it is a young convention within APBF, EBC has tremendous potential to grow and to send missionaries far and wide.
If you know the popular song "I have Decided to Follow Jesus", that was the next destination; the place where the popular song originates. The Garo tribe of North East India where God is using them exponentially. It was an honor to attend the Garo Baptist Convention's 100th years anniversary of Harding Theological College in Tura, Meghalaya, India. The first leg of journey is a 2 hour ride from Churachandpur to the airport. Then you fly from Imphal to Guwahati which takes less than an hour. Upon arrival in Guwahati travel continues for approx. 6-7 hours on road travel before finally arriving in Tura, Meghalaya. GBC has 2,536 local churches, 3,26,075 baptized members, 82 local evangelists, 142 cross cultural home missionaries, and 20 overseas missionaries.
APBF EXECUTIVE MEETING 2020
What happens every year for the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation Executive Members is the Executive meeting. This was held in Okinawa, Japan from February 9-13, 2020. Following the Asia Pacific Baptist Aid meeting from February 8-9, 2020, the APBF Execom meeting was held from February 10-11 at Goya Baptist Church, Okinawa. We thank God for the safe meeting of the APBF Executive meeting although the scare of Covid-19 was already taking its effect upon travelers. In the midst of scarcity of flights or flights cancellations, we are thankful to God for protection and safe travels of the APBF leaders who were able to meet for its annual Executive meeting
COUNCIL OF BAPTIST CHURCHES IN NORTH EAST INDIA MISSION CONFERENCE 2020
The 1st Mission Conference of the Council of Baptist Churches in North East India was truly an empowering one. With the theme "Launch into the Deep" taken from Luke 5:4, CBCNEI called upon the churches to come out of shallow waters and dive into the deep. Not to be content of the status quo of growth that has been experienced among the tribes in the North East of India but carry the task of the gospel with such urgency as Jesus has given the marching orders to "Go and Preach the Gospel to all Nations". CBCNEI has potential to move way beyond what is humanly possible if believers will heed the call!
The General Secretary of APBF represented the APBF serving as its morning speaker, and to share APBF's support to CBCNEl's task of the Great Commission! Convention Mission leaders, local and overseas missionaries from Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Meghalaya attended the conference. Through the conference each participants and conventions were challenged to carry the gospel one step higher, wider, deeper than what was traditionally done.
CHANGES OF SCHEDULES
Given the shift contributed by the Covid-19 in the world, there are many changes of schedules. BWA Congress was postponed to July 2021. The APBF Leader's Summit that was earlier scheduled for May 12-13, 2020 in Bangkok has been postponed indefinitely. APBF President and General Secretary's visit to Cambodia, Mongolia has been postponed as well. Nevertheless, aside visits to conventions, the APBF continues to be present with the member bodies in pastoral reach and prayer. The APBF has sent letters of encouragement, prayer letters, APBAid Covid-19 Response Toolkit to APBF member bodies. APBF along the initiatives of the Asia Baptist Women's Union not only called the member bodies to a month long prayer time at 8:00 am but also joined the global call of prayer marathon of the BWA. The APBF Executives have gathered online through Zoom to pray for the region and the world.
There is an unwavering faith amongst the people that God is still in control over the matters of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Alongside many convention and churches APBF is fervently praying and seeking to strategically engage as partners in the Great Commission and seek to empower the churches to empower its people.
The Pandemic has disrupted the lives and schedules of hundreds and thousands of people, but God's people are not shaken and God is still working amongst the people in the Asia Pacific. Amidst the Pandemic, cyclone Harrold has brought much destruction in Vanuatu. APBF is reaching out to our Baptist Family in the Pacific. Keep them in your prayers.
With God's ever presence in the midst of troubles, through this time of uncertainties, may we become stronger in partnership, increase in faith and double our effort in action. ("God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble" Psalm 46:1.)
May God grant you all peace, strength and comfort during this difficult time.