We are all called to share the Gospel yet here in the United States we sometimes feel that everyone has heard the Good News about Jesus Christ and we become complacent in our efforts as often our message falls upon “deaf” ears or we are instantly shut out for sharing a message many do not feel they need to hear.
Our partner in Myanmar (Burma), Pastor Benjamin, receives a very different response when he shares the good needs. He expresses that his country has a huge thirst for Jesus Christ and learning the truth. Perhaps that is because, “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). The people of Myanmar have few freedoms in their lives particularly when it comes to religion. The military Junta has been closing house churches and forcing pastors to sign documents which forbid them to preach. This is most prevalent in the old capital city on Yangon (Rangoon). Pastor Benjamin has a real heart for the people of Myanmar and has just reported on the first of three evangelism programs that his ministry will run within a 30 day period.
The Irrawaddy delta in the southern portion of the country was hardest hit by the cyclone of 2008. The pastor was able to bring some physical relief to the people through funds that Harvesters’ supporters generously donated to assist in recovery efforts. While he was there on that trip he shared the love of Christ to the people so they had hope even in the midst of their difficulties. During that visit he baptized five new believers. Last week he returned for the second follow-up visit and reported,
“Thanks again for your helping with in your prayer for our outreach here in Irrawaddy delta. It is a great fruit outreach and many people are hunger physical and spiritual. Many people want to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. We distributed some children clothes and food for the hunger in that area.”
More discipleship and more baptisms have occurred on each successive visit. The thirst is deep, but the challenge is getting Christian materials into the hands of the new believers. One of the greatest needs is for Burmese Bibles. Discipleship is difficult when meetings are restricted, when published materials are only available when someone from the city visits and daily growth is virtually impossible without a Bible in the heart language for the people to read.
Pastor Benjamin makes due with what he has, but his desire is to develop firm roots with the new believers. He continues to nurture the babes with the few materials that he has and he has a plan for those who are sharing in the Irrawaddy and in Southern Chin State where he was raised.
Pastor Benjamin will return to Chin State in April. The trip alone would deter most from sharing the love of the Lord as it is a four day hike up into the mountains from the furthest point that a vehicle can drive. Pastor Benjamin is not discouraged by the journey, but rather alive with the zeal of sharing with his own people. His greatest desire is to see this people group growing and flourishing in the knowledge of their freedom from the bondage of this world.
Pastor Benjamin is also reaching out to those closest to home with a youth camp planned for the last week of March. We would do well here in the US to take some lessons from this man of God who could be imprisoned at any time for sharing the Gospel. We can openly share with the people we meet and we wonder how we will be received – he knows the consequences of his sharing and yet he never misses and opportunity to share the message of salvation with anyone he meets. The harvest is ripe but sometimes we are not willing to get our hands dirty. Pastor Benjamin knows the work that the Lord has called him to and is willing to do it at all cost. Harvesters supports him in all he does to the extent that we have the funds – Bibles, travel expenses, camp materials, food for the orphans and widows – the list is endless. Can you make a difference in the ministry in Myanmar?