Judy Aitken, a compassionate nurse who founded ASAP Ministries, a non-profit organization that focuses on reaching the poor, persecuted, the unreached, and refugees from Asia in the 10/40 window and in the North American Division, died Dec. 10 in Berrien Springs, Mich.
Judy Aitken struggled with cancer but was able to live a full life communicating with our Savior until she fell asleep peacefully in her home.
Described by many as the “modern day mother for Adventist refugee ministry,” Judy was known for her passion to help a people group with an extensive history of violence, persecution and displacement.
In 1979, the cover of a Time magazine changed the course of Judy’s life forever. The image of a mother holding an emancipated child left a lasting impression upon her. It wasn’t long after that Judy committed five weeks to volunteer her skills and knowledge to assist refugees in a small bamboo hospital on the border of Thai-Cambodia. Those five weeks were extended to 40 years of ministry to refugees.
As Cambodians continued to flee the “killing fields” to seek asylum in refugee camps, Judy quickly realized that a hope in Jesus was needed just as much as medical attention. To effectively evangelize, Judy and her team figured that a non-profit organization that specialized in projects for Asia needed to be launched. What started as a temporary commitment turned into a lifelong call.
In 1995, Judy founded ASAP Ministries — Advocates for Southeast Asians and the Persecuted.
The results in Cambodia today are that thousands are worshiping in faith all over the country. Many of the district pastors in Cambodia were former refugee camp church leaders. Through the Lord's many blessings, ASAP Ministries continues to support the spread of the gospel not only in Cambodia but also Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar, and beyond.
In addition to the work being done overseas, Aitken also dedicated her energy and resources to helping the Southeast Asian refugee groups and immigrants here in the United States of America. Sam Ngala, pastor and former ASAP Ministries assistant, said that the refugee ministry in North America was not in existence until Judy returned from Southeast Asia and did all she could to reach out to immigrants who have been pouring in from those countries.
Judy’s daughter, Julia O’Carey, who now serves as ASAP’s director, issued a statement, saying, “May I encourage you with these words, because I know she was a spiritual mom to many of you. Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also (John 14:1-3). Together, we look forward to reuniting with her in heaven.”
A funeral service in celebration of a life lived for Jesus will be held at Pioneer Memorial Church in Berrien Springs, Dec. 21, at 10:30 a.m. You also can view the live-streaming from asapministries.org or ASAP Facebook page.
Judy was survived by her worldwide family of God and her three children and eight grandchildren.
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