(Myanmar is also called Burma)

Mission Leader Tells of
Serving The Suffering in Myanmar

ASSIST News Service, July 12, 2008

DALLAS, TEXAS (ANS) -- He leads Gospel for Asia’s ministry in Myanmar—a country in crisis, but he doesn't want to preach. He wants his life to be the sermon. This missionary, who must remain anonymous for security purposes, spoke Friday at Gospel for Asia’s Renewing Your Passion Conference in Dallas, Texas.

He reported that amidst the sobering reality of poverty and oppression, people’s lives are being changed daily in Myanmar (Burma).

He made the remarks before more than 1,000 Christians from around the world who support the work of GFA. The Renewing Your Passion Conference is a gathering of Christians from around the world who support the work of Gospel for Asia’s 16,500 native missionaries in 11 South Asian countries.

Myanmar has come to the front and center of recent news coverage after Cyclone Nargis slammed into the country in May. The cyclone simply exacerbated an already tragic situation in this small Asian country, according to this missionary leader.

The country has been under military rule since 1962.

“Once my country was known as the paradise of South Asia. But today it is full of problems and suffering,” he said.

Before the cyclone struck, there were more than 150,000 refugee camps at the border of Myanmar and China. The people live in poverty, which had dropped the average life expectancy to just 56 years. In neighboring Thailand, the life expectancy is 71 years.

The cyclone took an estimated 350,000 lives. More than 100,000 are still missing.

But life was not much better for those who survived. More than 1.6 million homes were destroyed and 1.3 million acres of fertile crop land were damaged as the cyclone swept across an area known as “the rice bowl of Myanmar.”

“In some affected areas, the dead are more than the living,” the missionary noted.

There was no way to bury the vast number of dead, so their corpses litter the waterways and landscape.

Then GFA missionaries and volunteers showed up with emergency food and supplies. The missionary leader himself was on the crew of volunteers who helped serve food to survivors who took refuge at the GFA Bible College in Yangon (Rangoon). He, and every other missionary who served with him, were letting their lives preach the sermons during those days.

The people in this majority Buddhist country were stunned at the love these Christians showed to them. Two families who went without food for seven days after the storm articulated their thoughts about Jesus to the missionaries who brought them food.

“Buddha did nothing while we were suffering. But your Jesus loves us,” the missionary reported. “Now every Sunday they are coming to church and worshipping the Lord.”

The missionary talked about the joy the people of Myanmar are finding in Jesus.

“In the midst of suffering, poverty and difficulty, the Lord is doing great things in Myanmar. Missionaries are bringing the Good News, and because of their faithfulness, there are 482 of our churches in Myanmar,” he said.

Also speaking at the conference Friday night was Simon John, who oversees GFA’s ministry in North India, serving in Delhi. Speaking from Psalm 8, John told those at the conference that times of suffering help Christians to move closer to God.

“God stands by us and says, my daughter, my son, get up. You don’t have to fight anymore. I will fight for you,” he said. “That is the joy we experience on the mission field.

He then shared several stories of GFA missionaries who endured difficult circumstances to continue serving the Lord—a woman delivered from demon possession after five years of torment and a simple Dalit (“Untouchable”) man whom God used as a missionary and prayer warrior among the people in his home state.

He encouraged those at the conference to look past their own abilities and to seek God for their usefulness.

“We are so thankful for the Lord that He is thinking about us; that he is working out the details,” John said.

Other scheduled speakers include GFA mission leaders from Sri Lanka, India, and the U.S. There will also be a late-night prayer meeting Saturday night with multiple speakers from many nations.

Details about the conference, including specific speakers, are available online at www.gfa.org/ryp.
Gospel for Asia is an evangelical mission organization based in Carrollton, Texas involved in sharing the love of Jesus across South Asia.

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