The Power of Prayer

I’m currently in Myanmar enjoying meeting old friends, training people how to follow Jesus, and ministering to the orphans and other less fortunate people we support. Things certainly have changed a lot over the years.

When we first landed at the airport in Yangon in 2003, things looked bleak for this lovely country. So many dreadful things had happened in their past and the people yearned for a better future. Christians told us stories of pastors being crucified by the Junta for their faith. Believers endured beatings in jail for years and were released after they had slowly lost their mental faculties.

Myanmar was a broken country with old cars, old buildings, and an old dictator who suppressed freedom and stripped the people of their dignity. Everything was again the law in the land of a thousand golden pagodas. Multitudes died from starvation when the price of rice rose ten cents a pound.

Much like the people of Israel in Egypt, the people continually cried out to their god for deliverance. But Buddha never answered. The more the people endured, the larger and more elaborate their pagodas became. Hoping that somehow their sacrifice of gold and chanting would stop their suffering. It did not.

Things were going from bad to worse, something Holli and I could see with our own eyes. God burdened my heart to figure out the best way to reach the Buddhist people with the gospel of Jesus Christ – the genuine answer to their dilemma. I began to ask other people in the country how they were ministering to their neighbors and sharing the good news. We had many conversations which helped me see what was working and what was not. My lack of language seemed an insurmountable obstacle.

One surprise we encountered after we settled in Yangon was how the Myanmar Baptist Convention distanced themselves from believers from America who had come to share the love of Jesus with Myanmar. We had thought they would be allies, but quickly found them unsupportive of our efforts. At the time, we decided the reason for their skepticism was because of all that they had been through under the military regime.

Amid much spiritual oppression, Holli began to pray every day for a breakthrough in Myanmar. She believed in what we were doing and knew God was with us. She claimed promises from God’s word and shared them with others. Quiet, yet strong, her faith began to weave itself into the hearts and souls of our Buddhist friends. As we faced intense spiritual warfare, I never doubted for a second that she was by my side and we were going to see God’s kingdom come in Myanmar together.

Next time, I’ll share with you how Holli and I knew that God had called us to move to Myanmar and share the Good News. It was one of the toughest decisions we ever made together…

 

P.S. Please consider giving a one-time or monthly gift to the Holli Lancaster Memorial Missions Fund. Your gift will continue her legacy among the Myanmar people and help us raise up disciples, leaders, groups, and churches throughout Myanmar. CLICK HERE to give and thank you so much.

The Problem with Karma

I remember when we first got to Myanmar in 2003. It was a different country back then – karma had made it a country that time had forgotten.

The government was not open to outside influences and exercised punishing control of its people. Myanmar at that time had one of the largest standing armies in the world – mainly employed to keep their own citizens in submission. The government had a “black list” of those it would not permit to return to Myanmar if they were deemed dangerous to national unity. We were never sure if we would be let back in after our visa runs.

The result of closing their doors to the world were everywhere. Old cars, broken down buildings, an economy on the brink of collapse, government cronies raiding precious resources, and Christians openly persecuted and jailed. A land of contrasts – it was common to see a mansion as you walked down the street and a shanty village next door with an open sewer.The problem Buddhists faced in this situation was karma. Karma teaches you are being rewarded now for what you have done in the past. The end result of this belief is that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The powerful get more powerful and the oppressed become more oppressed. Government officials receive lavish funerals, while common people are buried in shallow graves in the jungle.

In a country closed off to the national community, human rights abuses abounded. The dictator’s daughter received a 75 million dollar necklace as a wedding present — while the average laborer made 30 dollars a month. A twenty-year-old beat up Toyota van cost $30,000 while a two-year-old Lexus cost $4,000 – because you couldn’t get parts or repairs for a Lexus.

So, those who ran the country found themselves in a difficult place. Power and money were the signs of good karma, so to relinquish them was to lose status economically and spiritually. All the while, the population endured the situation, hoping they were earning a better life for themselves in their next go around.

While Myanmar believers doing their best to live for Jesus in such a difficult situation, Holli and I were packing up the family to go into Myanmar, teach English, and share the love of God with the most beautiful, kind people we had ever known.

Which Path is Right?

Everyone has some type of belief about how they can live a better life now, in the future, and for eternity. In Myanmar, the majority culture holds that the teachings of Buddha are the key to a fulfilling and satisfying life. One saying our family heard over and over again when we lived in Myanmar was “to be Burmese is to be Buddhist.” Needless to say, this made sharing Jesus feel like an uphill battle.

The Buddha, however, taught that people should study and learn from other religions. It was healthy to entertain alternatives and make sure one’s beliefs were firm and correct. We invited Buddhists friends into our home and bible studies to find out more about Jesus. Some were interested in hearing more about Jesus – the head of a religion very much different from their own.

What happened next is interesting. Seekers would learn about Jesus and His teachings. Many of them would start to worship Jesus and pray to Him during a crisis. It seemed that they had decided to become Christ-followers. But then the question of baptism would surface.

Parents, friends, and local leaders didn’t mind Buddhist people attending house churches, bible studies, or worship events. They didn’t mind them studying the Bible or praying to Jesus. Families might even discuss the new beliefs of one of their members and find them interesting. If that person wanted to be baptized, however, they faced open hostility and persecution.

Baptism, for those in a Buddhist culture, represented denouncing Buddhism and embracing Christianity. You were choosing one Master and leaving another. Baptism was a point of no return.

What we saw, as a result, were scores of seekers who began to slip back into Buddhism and slowly turn their back on Jesus. The peer pressure and persecution were too intense. The initial excitement over following Jesus waned and they decided to go back to Buddhism.

Baptism, of course, does not save a person. But even non-believers know it represents a spiritual marker in one’s life. Please join us in praying for new believers in Myanmar who face this difficult decision. Pray that God will give them the strength to withstand so many forces trying to pull them back into darkness.

Love for Myanmar Training Resources

Our vision is a sustainable church-planting movement led by Burmese believers. Our core strategy is to teach the seven-step strategy of Jesus to believers and help them implement it in Myanmar.

Here are the resources we provide believers to succeed at each step:

  1. Go
    1. “Be Fruitful and Multiply” (Training Module)
    2. “Pray Powerful Prayers”
    3. “Walk in The Spirit”
    4. “Join God Where He Is Working”
  2. Share God’s Love
    1. Orphanage Support and Coaching
    2. Trauma Healing Counseling
    3. Micro-Finance Groups
    4. Neighborhood Schools for Poor Children
    5. Assistance to Refugees
    6. Leprosy Hospital and Village Support and Coaching
  3. Share the Gospel
    1. “Defeat Satan In Spiritual Warfare”
    2. “Share Your Testimony”
    3. “Share the Simple Gospel”
    4. “How to Answer the Hard Questions”
    5. Evangelistic Outreach Events
  4. Make Disciples
    1. “Make the Great Confession”
    2. “Obey the Great Commandment”
    3. “Obey the Great Commission”
    4. Bible Seminary
  5. Form Disciple Groups
    1. “What Is A Simple Worship Group?”
    2. “Lead A Simple Worship Group”
    3. “52 Bible Stories for Your Discipleship Group”
  6. Train Leaders
    1. “Lead Like Jesus”
    2. “12 Principles of A Strong Ministry”
    3. “Raise Up Leaders”
  7. Start Churches
    1. “The Ten Commandments of a Great Church”
    2. “Grow Your Church Inside and Out”
    3. “Shepherd A Church”

Our goal is to empower groups of believers step-by-step and coach them through any roadblocks they encounter. We are organized with a national director, ministry directors, an area director, six village fellowship coordinators, and sixteen house church leaders.

We support the movement through regular prayer, weekly Skype calls, mission trip teams, onsite training events, printed materials, audio and video files, coaching, outreach events, and online training events.

What is Love for Myanmar up to these days?

The Joshua Project estimates that there are one-hundred and forty-six people groups in Myanmar, forty-nine of which are less than 2% evangelical. Buddhism is the major religion (76% of the population) and eighty-four percent of the population have never heard the Gospel.

The Burmese people are kind, gentle, and hospitable, but face an eternity separated from God and their loved ones if they do not hear and respond to the Gospel. The need is great – forty-six million people who are lost and never heard the good news.

Missionaries have worked in Myanmar since 1813 with scanty results. What makes us think our approach will produce better results? Simply, our strategic plan is based on imitating Jesus’ approach to mission in the Gospels.

Following Jesus’ method, we have trained more than 5,000 believers throughout Southeast and Southern Asia. Those believers have started more than 1,200 discipleship groups, and by God’s grace, 200 of those groups have become churches.

The seven steps of Jesus’ strategy are:

  1. Go
  2. Share God’s Love
  3. Share the Gospel
  4. Make Disciples
  5. Form Disciple Groups
  6. Train Leaders
  7. Start Churches

We provide resources, training, and coaching for each of these steps, leading to healthy, reproducing churches. Since most people in Myanmar are semi-illiterate, our materials are practical and easily remembered with repetition and hand motions. We also create audio and video resources that can easily be distributed via smart phones and DVD discs.

Our long-term goal is to establish a church in every city, town, and village in Myanmar following Jesus’ method. The spread of the Gospel will bring eternal salvation to countless Burmese people, facilitate peace among the ethnic groups, and provide a brighter future for the youth of Myanmar.

We have a network of sixteen house churches among the Mon and Karen people (Unreached People Groups) in southern Myanmar. We are testing a model of reproducible church planting using Follow Jesus Training (see www.t4tpress.com).

Our short-term objective is to double the number of people within each of the seven steps of Jesus’ strategy in the next eighteen months, perfecting the model, and then launching it to the entire country of Myanmar.

We have established a network of leaders over the last fourteen years and emphasize both mercy ministries and sharing the Gospel in everything we do. We have the training materials, the supervisory people in place, and a solid plan, but need additional funds to take the work to the next level, including creating audio and video training sessions that will be freely available to every Christian in Myanmar via smartphones and the internet.

The current move towards democracy in Myanmar has created an openness to new ideas and the Gospel. God is moving, and we believe the time is ripe for a church-planting movement in Myanmar.

Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God

“Expect great things from God: attempt great things for God.” – William Carey, Father of Modern Missions

Most people agree that we need to share the gospel and heal the sick throughout the world. Jesus commanded us to “go” in the Great Commission. The Great Commandment says to love your neighbor as yourself and that certainly includes helping and healing the downtrodden. I would want someone to help me if I was the victim of persecution or injustice, wouldn’t you?

The problem many face is they want to do something great for God, but they believe they aren’t qualified or don’t have the skills. It’s a hard place to be. You want to make the world a better place, but you don’t feel like you can really do anything worthwhile. You want to be on mission with God and see people’s lives changed for the better, but your past or inadequacies stand at the gate like giants and forbid you to pass.

I often hear this as people are considering going on mission trips. “I don’t know what to do,” they say. Or “I’m not qualified.” Or “I’ve messed up too much in my life.” These are legitimate concerns, but they should not stop you from doing great things for God. These are the same reasons for not attempting great things for God the disciples gave Jesus. He told them not to fear. He is telling you not to fear, also.

So, I don’t know what the next step is for you to be on mission with God, but I want to challenge you to take it today. Obey the Spirit of God and figure out a way to pray more, or give more, or encourage more, or go more. Fear not, friend. Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.

Bring Healing and the Good News

In Luke 10, Jesus tells his followers to bring healing and share the good news wherever they go. People don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.

That’s why at Love for Myanmar we minister to orphans, poor students who cannot attend public school, broken-hearted people at the leprosy hospital and village, and help those who have been persecuted for their faith get back on their feet.

But, it is not enough to meet needs on earth, if someone is going to spend eternity apart from God. That’ why it is important to share the Good News that Jesus has died for people’s sins, raised from the dead, and now offers the gift of eternal life in heaven to all those who will receive it.

Love for Myanmar has trained hundreds of Burmese believers how to share their faith, make disciples, grow as spiritual leaders, and start churches. We also provide coaching and mentoring to church leaders who want to improve their ministry skills.

Check out how our ministry obeys Jesus’ command to bring healing and share the good news at www.LoveForMyanmar.org. If you are a ministry in Myanmar, let’s partner together to see many follow Jesus in the Golden Land.

Help Us Help Them

Orphans in Myanmar have little hope. They fall easy prey to ruthless people who exploit them for forced labor or the sex trade. The Bible says in the book of James that true religion takes care of the widows and orphans. Would you want someone to help your child if they became an orphan?

Love for Myanmar currently cares for over 100 orphans in six Christian orphanages. Boys and girls find faith, hope, and love in the arms of devoted Christian workers. Their needs are great, and God is using believers like you to give them hope.

Click on this link to go to our website and find out more about Love for Myanmar:

Click Here

As God has blessed you, please give to the orphans in Myanmar. God will fill your soul with joy and comfort as you join Him in giving to these little ones He loves.

We Can Serve in Word and Deed

The following letter was recently provided by Isaac Nun Hmung regarding one of his seminary students in Myanmar.  We felt it a compelling opportunity to share, allowing the  Holy Spirit to move in the hearts of readers.  If you would like to participate with response, please contact us at Love For Myanmar by clicking here.

Dear Friends,

I am so thankful to the Lord for your support in prayers and in earthly gifts for the ministry here at MEBC.  For the last 4 years your faithful participation whether in body or spirit has been a partnership which God has used to grow the seed of our ministry for His glory.  One of the greatest blessings throughout this time has been to participate directly in mediating the needs of our precious students, first spiritually then physically.

Although this has been a great privilege it has also been a worthy cross to bear.  As many of you know God has provided for us the unique honor of reaching out to the poorest of the community of saints in Myanmar. They come from rural villages where basic comforts such as reliable electricity is a scarcity.  Due to this level of poverty our students have been plagued with many tribulations including the lack of proper health care. Through conviction from the Holy Spirit we have been compelled to share what we have with them to live out the commission of Scripture to not merely serve in word but also in deed.  Therefore, God has used our work to provide for these precious crowns physical needs which they desperately need.

Recently one of our female students has been carrying a horrible wound from childhood that has disfigured her face.  Her name is Hoi Ley and when she was 3 years old a jack fruit fell on her face and caused an injury which would eventually disfigure her face.  The injury could have been easily treated if proper medical care was available to her, but due to the remote location of her village coupled with her family’s extreme poverty no care was available for her.

With no other option her family merely hoped that the wound would heal on its own. However, this left the wound to fester and eventually disfigured her upper left side of her face.  This has caused her to live in shame and despite her burden she has shown a vital faith to serve which is the reason for her attendance of our institution.

As you can imagine when I heard her story and saw with mine own eyes her condition, I was moved and felt a need to help her in her trouble. We had taken her to a doctor here in Yangon for a consultation.  They had informed me that her condition could be treated and her face restored with plastic surgery.  The estimated cost for the surgery would be about $3000.

My dear friends, I wanted to share this opportunity with you and humbly ask if any of you might be able to help in raising these funds to provide for our dear sister.  Perhaps if there are some in your congregations or friends in your life that God has already placed a burden on for this need, would you be willing to ask and see if any might be able to help us to care for our sister? She is second year Bachelor of Theology program student. Thank you again for all your support and may our Lord bless each of you with the fullness of His Kingdom.

Love in Christ,
Isaac Nun Hmung

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A Dream of School

By Carolyn Watkins

HPU 3

 

For the first time in the seven-year history of the Austin Karen Baptist Church, a young man from our congregation is attending a four-year university!  After a successful high school football experience at Austin High School, Ehlar Htoo, Pastor Moe Eh’s fourth oldest son, moved into the athletic dorm at HPU on Wednesday, August 10.  Gary and I were blessed to have the opportunity to accompany this outstanding young man to HPU to meet with the admissions department and financial aid department on July 29 and again on move-in day.

As the incredible story unfolded, the entire spring semester of high school, Ehlar was sharing his dream to attend Howard Payne in the fall and to play football there.  Prayers were shared for him as he took the SAT and other admissions tests. When we checked online and saw the financial requirements for admission, we could not see any way that his dream could happen.

But, as we know, God can make a way when there seems to be no way!  We lift our praises to Him for opening doors to the financial aid that Ehlar needed to make this dream come true! We know that without divine intervention this could have never happened.  Ehlar is so excited to be able to play football at the college level and to get a Christian education at such a outstanding university.  He is a worthy, hard-working, Christ-honoring young man that lives in service of our Lord.  We are excited about the wonderful work the Lord is going to do in and through Ehlar’s life at HPU and beyond!

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