BY JULIA O'CAREY
Do you enjoy the thrill of a roller coaster ride? To be honest, after riding a roller coaster with my daughter at SeaWorld at age 30, I told myself my days of roller-coaster rides were over! Now, 20 years later, I found myself on the wildest roller-coaster ride I’d ever experienced. No, it didn’t last three minutes like traditional roller coasters. It took over eleven hours by car! The twists and turns, ups and downs, along with the record speed and close calls made this a trip I will never forget. My brother, Pr. Sam Ngala, my good friend Grace Lova, ASAP Field Relations Coordinator Pr. Benjamin Kip, ASAP Field Media Assistant Josiah Adams, the Mizo Adventist Conference leaders, and a group of over fifteen missionary volunteers traveled together with one goal in mind, to reach the refugees flooding into Mizoram, India, from Myanmar. This was the second trip into this region initiated by Pr. Ngala, an Adventist pastor from the U.S. who has worked with ASAP for the past ten years. Based on a report from the Indian government’s parliamentarian, MP K. Vanlalvena, given in September 2022, about 40,000 refugees have fled to India in the past two years due to Myanmar’s political unrest. Thousands more undocumented refugees who are temporarily living with relatives or friends must also be considered in the picture.
Teams of missionaries from the United States (who fled to America as refugees themselves at one point) gathered in five different locations of Mizoram state. Their practical medical and dental care, loving prayers, and inspiring evangelistic meetings were all well-attended. They understood that when refugees lose everything, their hearts are open and receptive to something meaningful. Two of the refugees from America who had hearts to reach the refugees in India could not afford their airplane tickets. ASAP donors like you provided for one of the tickets and the funds for the other came just in time, not a minute early! Praise the Lord! I love how ASAP helped to make this mission trip happen. How exciting to not only see souls reached in India but to witness the unfolding of God’s plan for involving refugees from America in mission work. Ellen White describes this plan so well in the book Evangelism, pg. 570: “If we were quick in discerning the opening providences of God, we should be able to see in the multiplying opportunities to reach many foreigners in America a divinely appointed means of rapidly extending the third angel’s message into all the nations of earth.”
Let me tell you, meeting the refugees made the whole crazy three-day journey to our destination so worth it! Each one had a heart-wrenching story of why they had to leave everything familiar behind. Each one demonstrated amazing courage. For instance, though Tony,* his wife, and their two boys experienced great difficulties and hardship leaving Myanmar, he shared with a big smile, “If my family and I had remained in Myanmar, we wouldn’t be as close as we are now. At home, we were too busy to have morning and evening family worship, but we have plenty of time now.” (Please watch ASAP’s upcoming Mission Matters to hear more of Tony’s inspiring story.)
God wants us to continue responding to the urgent needs of the refugees. After proper needs assessment and conversations with the Mizo Conference, ASAP is in the process of planning holistic projects that will make the greatest impact and meet the needs that are not already being met by others. Please pray that God will guide us in this process so that we can be “quick in discerning the opening providences of God.” Would I endure that rollercoaster ride again? Yes, in a heartbeat!