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Myanmar is a beautiful land rich with human and natural resources. Sadly, most of the wealth goes into the hands of a few, so life for many is hard. There is a 'measure' of freedom, but people tread carefully and talk even more carefully. Some of the tribal groups are under considerable pressure. I visited 'Bagan' on the banks of the great Irrawaddy River. This is the heartland of Buddhism in Myanmar. More than two thousand Pagodas dot the landscape dating from the 11th Century - some small and simple others huge and elaborate. Each one is a place of worship and meditation. Many of these have been built by those who believed that in doing so they were earning merit and overcoming the negative consequences of wrong doing. Still today many people are generous in their gifts to the monks and the temples in order to secure a better life next time around!
But there were signs of hope and evidence of God's work. In Shan State where the Christian population is maybe only 1 or 2 percent, I met faithful Christians from other parts of the country doing the work of the Kingdom. In one place about 100 simple farming folk have come to the Lord - not without struggle and opposition.
'John' introduced me to an older farmer who, years earlier, had asked him if he could do anything about the demons in the local grave yard. At night the demons' wailing voices could be heard and neither man nor animals could go near the place. John gathered the few believers in the area and together they prayed and lifted up the name of God in praise all around the area. In the name of Jesus they commanded the evil spirits to be gone. The voices have not been heard since. The demons and the fear are gone. The old man and his wife came to the church meetings for many more months before they themselves came to the Lord. Now eight of their 13 grown up children have joined them. The old farmer provided a piece of his land for a simple worship centre to be built.
In another place I met a young lady who I will call "Grace". She came to the Lord several years ago from a Buddhist background and has dedicated her life to the Lord and to reaching her own tribal people. The Lord has already used her in many ways, including being the 'voice' on GRN recordings in that language. People have come to faith in Christ through those recordings. She is writing Christian songs in her own language which will also be recorded and shared. For much of the time she takes care of orphans in Yangon (she was herself an orphan) but each year she spends a month or two back in Shan State sharing her faith.
Grace told me of a friend who had tried to share the Gospel with her aging mother. The mother had refused to listen so the friend brought her a recording that Grace had made. The mother listened and God spoke to her heart. She now follows Jesus also.
I met with several groups of Bible college students who have a heart to serve the Lord and see his church grow. They and their teachers need much prayer. A great challenge is to find culturally appropriate ways to share the Gospel so that it is not simply rejected as a 'western religion'.
There are many ministries that I did not see, but I saw enough to be reminded of the great need for prayer for this country and its people.
GRN ministry in the country is small but effective and growing in impact. Recordings have been made in about two thirds of languages spoken. More languages need recording and more material is needed in some of the languages. The materials are not widely used but there are a handful of local Christian workers making good use of them.
Pray for this land and its people. Pray for those who labour in the work of the kingdom.