R. and his wife serve full time in mission training and evangelism in Myanmar.
Shan Plateau in Myanmar is guarded by a steep drop to the west and its mountainous eastern borders. It is home to many tribal groups including the Shan, Lisu, Palaung, Kachin, Wa and Chinese, who all speak different dialects. Most live in bamboo houses, struggling daily to survive. There are many statues of lions and horses at the village entrances because people believe that these will keep them safe from evil spirits. Some follow Buddhism and others worship spirits. They have so many feasts for their gods that they spend all their money celebrating. They live under the power of darkness.
There are 135 tribes from 18 ethnic groups in Myanmar. As Shan state borders China it is deeply influenced by Chinese culture and has a high proportion of Chinese people. We set up a mission centre to reach four villages within a 15-mile radius. In October 2003, I visited Lashio and the Lord gave me a vision to establish a mission training school for local young people. In faith, in December 2003, we started with 13 students and over 200 students have completed our courses since then. Through these students, more than 50 new churches have been established.
The financial crisis forced us to close the mission training school in 2011 but, by the grace of God and with the help of others, it was rebuilt. We pray that the Lord will use it mightily for the propagation of the good news among the unreached people of Shan state. Since 2013 we have visited the villages of Shan state, training and sharing the gospel with those who do not know even the name of Jesus.
We search for faithful co-workers among the local people. In 2016 we met A. of the Shan tribal group, who had been forsaken by his relatives and the villagers after he became a Christian. We trained him and agreed to work together in the mission field. After four years, he has matured spiritually and there are now more evangelists for other villages. They continue to provide training, preaching and distributing clothes to needy families. Our mission field is an unreached area.
‘I was born in 1972 into the Shan tribal group and was brought up in Buddhism. One of my nine siblings serves as the highest monk of our village. After training in Mandalay for two years, I returned home and served as a Buddhist monk for eight years. I found no real peace or joy in Buddhism. I resigned from being a monk and taught animism for six years. But there is no peace in worshipping devils either and no hope for life after death.
‘By the grace of God I married a believer from the Kachin tribe and we have five children. I refused to participate in my wife’s church. When she went without my consent, I beat her and caused problems in our family. My wife never spoke against me but silently prayed for me. I wondered how my wife could bear me beating her without saying anything and how she could still treat me with love and respect. In 2014, through my wife’s prayers, I heard the gospel. I realised that my meditations in Buddhism and my worship of devils were meaningless, that Jesus is the only way to Heaven. I was convicted of my sins and received Christ as my Saviour and Lord. My life was filled with peace and joy.
‘In 2016, R and his wife, visited our village and I decided to do the Lord’s work. Since that time I have been in the mission field. My spiritual life has grown and by His grace I tell my own native tribe, the Palaung and Lisu people, the good news. We have 14 new believers and seven disciples of Christ have gone through training. However, there are many unreached villages.
‘Access to the Palaung, Shan, Lisu and Wa people is difficult, as the road is only suitable for motorbikes. When I arrived, my heart broke to see their pitiful situation, both physically and spiritually. These poor farmers have no school and cannot read or write; they have no sanitation or health care. They cannot speak Burmese, only their tribal dialect. However, the Palaung tribe can speak the Shan language. Among more than 20 villages, there was no Christian church, Buddhist monastery or any religion.
‘I started praying for the people, that their spiritual eyes would be opened to see Jesus and to start a new house church. I stayed for two weeks, sharing the gospel of Jesus and 30 people were converted – praise the Lord! Before, they had never heard the name of Jesus, now they are following Him.’
Before, they had never heard the name of Jesus, now they are following Him.
Due to conflict, 24 households from the Palaung tribal group fled to this village. They are so poor, they struggle to find enough food and their children lack proper clothes. They need a nursery school to look after about 50 children who are left alone each day while their parents farm. As a result of A’s preaching, a couple called N. and T. believed in Christ and were baptised. Through their testimonies, two young boys became believers. Now these two young men teach children about Christ and their parents are hearing the gospel. We hope that this whole village will receive Christ soon. A. visits them two or three times a week, encouraging new believers and preaching.
There are 48 households from the Lisu tribal group in this village who were brought together by war. They subsist by farming the mountainsides and are without a school. There A. met P. who was encouraged by what he had heard and so after training he joined us in the mission field. Through P’s ministry, four families have received Christ. They worship together at his house and study the Bible, and others are interested in the gospel.
With 400 families from the Shan, China, Lisu and Kachin tribal groups, this village has a high school and a better standard of living, but there are many poor families. Through E. and his wife, two families have come to faith in Christ and many young people are interested in the gospel. E’s wife teaches sewing, which helps, but their mission work is interrupted as they cannot live locally.
AC. and his wife serve among their own people in this Palaung village of 80 families, where three families have received Christ. There is insufficient food and no local school. As there is nowhere to stay, AC. and his wife visit from their own village, and they are working hard to establish a house church there.
DT, of the Palaung tribal group, was born and brought up in a Buddhist family. While working in China, she was filled with a spiritual thirst. At that time, we met DT and invited her to participate in our training. She received the Lord Jesus and decided to follow Him. I baptised her and she was filled with joy. In her home town, there are many thousands of unsaved souls and terrorists prevent outsiders from entering. She decided to go and share the gospel with her native people. DT is the first believer of the Namsam Palaung tribal group. She needs prayer and discipleship so that she may grow in the faith.
There are 14 Palaung groups, each speaking different dialects. They are uneducated and live simple rural lives. Most send their children away to Buddhist monks so they automatically become Buddhists. DT prays for them with tears of love and works to lead many children to Christ. She speaks four dialects and has a nursing course certificate. Pray for her husband and for their two children. DT has a boldness in approaching people. Pray that the Lord will use her mightily to sow the good news among her people.
Many people from these villages are deeply interested in the gospel and there is great hope for change in the near future. Our evangelists are preaching the gospel and earnestly need prayer support, that the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit will move among them. Pray for the witness in these villages, for the provision of schools, training, food and clothes, and for these needy people to put their trust in Jesus Christ, the Lion of Judah, who alone is able to save us.