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“I have not seen a team that has gone through so many trials as your team.”

A tough year for the Sanhe team

“I have not seen a team that has gone through so many trials as your team.”

That was the comment from our field medical advisor at our health check over the past summer.

The previous September, the Sanhe team started our first Sunday service after a long journey of prayers. We initially only wanted to do it once a month but God was moving faster than we planned. People wanted to meet more frequently so after Chinese New Year we were ready to start weekly Sunday services. Just as everything was happening, each of us was going through different challenges.

During a regular lung CT scan, the doctor in the Chiayi Christian Hospital suspected that I had lung cancer. After a follow up x-ray a few months later, he suggested surgery to remove the suspicious shadow in my lung. Thankfully it was not cancer but I had to take three weeks off from work, just in time to return to help out with a winter vacation Bible school.

No long after, Thomas started to have severe recurring pains. After seeing three different doctors they were still unable to provide a clear diagnosis. The McIntyre family returned to the US for medical treatment in early April. It was a tremendous stress not only for Thomas’ family but and also for our team. Meanwhile Jennifer McIntyre suffered several flares from her chronic immune system illness.

Our team felt crushed.

God working through trials

However, in the midst of all this, God had been at work.

In April, when the Sanhe Gospel Center started weekly Sunday services, to our surprise, the attendance was stable. In Thomas’ absence, OMF missionaries from other teams helped by preaching on Sundays. Not only that but our longtime partner, Chiayi Baptist Church, started to send musicians to help on Sunday and at our park ministry. The church members also started to take responsibilities and serve in the church.

We are thankful that the McIntyres were able to return in early June after Thomas received a clear diagnosis and treatment. Our little church continues to grow in ways we could not imagine.

My story is not finished yet.

More trials…

When the field medical advisor visited our team in the summer, she mentioned the illnesses our team members had gone through. But she was proud that Markus had kept his blood sugar level under control during the four past years through his diet and cycling. Cycling is very much in Markus’ heart and he got to know many Taiwanese guys through cycling.

Upon hearing the medical advisor, Markus joked, “I wonder what is going to happen to me?”

This was what happened to Markus:

A few weeks after the medical check-up, Markus was cycling with some local guys. And he had a bike accident with an old lady. It was not really Markus’ fault but the fact that she was injured upset her family. The doctor said because of her age, she needed to be observed for the next three months. This, of course, affected Markus as cycling is one of his main ministries. It had been a very tough couple of months before we finally settled the case with her family.

God still working through trials

In the past year, the Sanhe ministry has gone very well, but our team has all experienced what Ephesians 6:12 says in a very personal way.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

We won’t be surprised if there are more trials waiting for us but we can be sure that our God is stronger than all the trials and He will show His glory in the midst of our struggles.

– Annie Laurinkari, Sanhe, Chiayi County

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