THE EVANGELICAL METHODIST CHURCH

Southeast Asia

December 2012 Report

YANGON MISSION FIELD

Hmaw Bi EMC

Hmaw Bi town is the newest mission field of Yangon EMC. It is situated North of Yangon and is about 51 km from Yangon. The missionary appointed there is Mr. Zai Hnuna. These days (Nov. 22- Dec. 10) the Director of Mission & Evangelism from Tahan Headquarters, Rev. Lal Sawi Chuanga, was with me visiting Yangon mission field and Paletwa mission field. We visited Hmaw Bi on Nov. 25, 2012.

Here are some stories of our Hmaw Bi EMC.

1. Daw Mar Mar Aye:
She was a Buddhist widow, living in Hmaw Bi. When her children were ill, they were advised by their fellow Buddhists to offer coconuts to the spirits. But they never received healing through the spirits or Buddha.

One day, she invited Christian missionary Hnuna to pray for the healing of her children and amazingly they were healed. Later she accepted Jesus as her personal Savior and Lord. They are now active members of Hmaw Bi EMC. She has to take care of her three children. Unfortunately, her tent was destroyed by a flood and unable to start another. Missionary Hnuna shares the kitchen of the church to her family to stay. Her eldest son is doing any odd job. Life is difficult but she is happy to share her new found faith to others. God also helps her to read and now she is able to read the Bible which is very helpful to share the Gospel to Buddhists.
2. Daw Tin Yee:
Is active witnessing of Jesus to her fellow Buddhists. Along with Mar Mar Aye, they make friends and witness Christ. When people get ready to hear the full gospel, they let the missionary Hnuna shared the full account of the gospel with them.
3. Daw Win:She was a Buddhist. She could not walk properly for 2 years and her husband for 5 years. One day Daw Mar Mar and Aye Daw Tin Yee visited her and shared about Jesus. When she was ready to hear the full account of the gospel, they invited missionary Hnuna to her house. He prayed for them and massaged their foot for three times. It was so powerful that now she could get up and even attend the church now. Her husband still could not walk but very much better than before. They received Jesus as their personal savior and Lord. Even though she can’t properly stand up right, she can go around praising the Lord!
4. Daw Htwe:
She was a Buddhist. She has eye problems and is almost blind now. Her daughter was deceived by telling her that she would get a good job in China. But when she reached China, she knew herself that she was being trafficked and forced for prostitution. She was helpless.One day, she learned about the powerful God who answers prayers. So she prayed for God to help her daughter out. Now her daughter has reached home safely. She testified that God is a living God. He alone is our hope and guarantee for life. He is God of all the nations!

PALETWA MISSION FIELD

I and Rev. Lal Sawi Chuanga safely reached Paletwa, Southern Chin State on Nov. 29, 2012. As Chin State is the remotest State in Myanmar, there is no proper way from Northern Chin State to Southern Chin State and thus we need to cross Rakhine State where Muslims from Bangladesh and Rakhine tribe were killing one another. We thank God that police and soldiers took security and we found no problem visiting. From a particular town called Kyauk Daw town of Rakhine State, it took us about 8 hours cruised by boat to reach to Paletwa.

We have about 20 new family members in Paletwa town and there are about 47 hostel (boarding) students in Paletwa. We have no space to worship together in our mission station/quarters. Therefore, we held open service on that night (Nov. 29th). We just spread tarpaulin on the ground. After preaching, I had the privilege to teach Christmas Carol songs to our hostels students at our mission station/quarters.

 A New EMC: Nga Dat Village

Next morning, Nov. 30th, I and two missionaries sailed to a village called Nga Dat to give baptism to 4 families numbering 11. It took us 4 hours boat cruised from Paletwa. We conducted the first worship service at that village. When I asked U Tun Yu (55 yrs) why they decided to become Christians, his answer was quite simple. He said, “I was a witchdoctor/village priest. But when I look around my surroundings, I began knowing that it is not good to be animists anymore for my community. Then we all turned to Buddhism since it is the major religion of the country. But we found difficulties in some of its teaching like if you can give more (merits) you will get salvation. Since we are poor, we can’t donate enough money to get to heaven. We even struggled to propitiate evil spirits by offering our animals while we were animists.

When we got sick and needed to be hospitalized, we saw a great difference between Buddhists and Christians. There is no visiting, no care, no prayer among Buddhists and animists. But there is in Christians. Even though they don’t know, they care and love one another as brothers and sisters. They visit and help whatever they can. I found great love in this religion which I think is the mark of true religion. Your missionaries told us that there is forgiveness if we repent and believe in Jesus and get salvation which is free, attainable even for the poor like us. After bamboo flowering and a plague of rats brought famine in Paletwa from 2007-2010, their lands are no longer fruitful. We don’t know why! That’s why we decided to believe Jesus and become Christians.

We entered Mr. Tun Yu’s house and we did what they called house cleaning. That is removing all the items relating to animism or Buddhism. At one corner, we found some bones of animals and leaves which were used for spirit worship. And we found a picture of Buddhist monks, Buddhist tract, and flowery leaves which are offered to Buddha. After prayer, we did consecration of the house.

In their context, wearing priest robe is very important. Since I didn’t bring mine, I borrowed one from our missionary but I couldn’t knit the button. (I recalled Rev. David trying to several Burmese shirts at the stores in Kalay)

After that we held the first service sharing the full account of the Gospel, inviting them to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord and gave baptism. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2Cor. 5:17).

In their context, giving baptismal certificate is very important as it is like a sign of those who are going to heaven.After giving baptism, I gave some important Train & Multiply books in Burmese to the leader, Mr. Tun Yu to reach the rest of his villagers.
The lady with sunglasses called Mrs. Soon Pah and her husband (Mr. Pyu Wait) who was standing next to her was severely attacked two years ago by a big beer in the jungle leaving them unconscious. Thank God that He saved their lives to receive Christ today. Everybody thought they were to die. She lost one of her eyes and their faces and heads were severely torn. We told them that God doesn’t want both of you going to hell so He saved your lives. They agreed with us! We are doing mission where Holy Spirit is ahead of us preparing people’s hearts!
  We invited Mr. Tun Yu to the convention of Paletwa EMC which would be held in Gyi Lee village and to get trained of ECC.

Gyi Lee Convention

    From the river, we followed the brook and walked about one hour to reach Gyi Lee village.

 

A Khumi Chin lady dressed with their traditional dress and the dried gourds to carry water from the brook. The bride price is so high that the husband works hard to pay for it almost his whole life. If he can’t fully pay it in his life, his son(s) has the duty to continue to pay to his uncle. Normally the bride price is between US$ 500- 1000. In early time, they paid it with animals and didn’t accept money for they had no use of money. Now, some have started to accept money. Therefore a husband possessed his wife totally and she is expected to work all the time.

A husband and wife never sleep together nor walk together. Since no bed, a wife sleeps near the kitchen and the guest(s) and children at the middle and the husband at the door. A mother should not eat anything except rice for a month or so after giving birth. When a baby dies, a priest or pastor is to take the body of the baby with a basket to the forest in the evening and hang it on a high tree. Missionaries from Northern Chins have been working hard to change Southern Chins and they achieve to some extent.

For example: they were now convinced to wear clothes and till today we send our used clothes to them. But some interior villages, many of them are still not wearing. The other thing they convinced them is to use plate for each family member for meal. Earlier, they made one big wooden plate for one family where they mixed rice and any curry they cook. Without washing their hands, they eat food by their hands from that wooden plate. After that they called their dog (which eats anything) to eat anything left in that plate. Without washing the plate, they again use it for meal. Now everyone in the house has their own plate.

Their villages are clean except their ladders are difficult to climb up or get down.

This year is the second convention of our Paletwa mission field, starting from last year only. Though they do not dance they clap their hands and sing 10 or more songs non-stop. Most of their songs are translated from northern Chins. It seemed heaven was coming down as they sang the whole night till dawn on the last day of the convention, Dec. 2nd. Different villages from EMC (some from 1 to 3 day long walks) were coming and we all are revived!

 

I had the privilege to ask the congregation to pray for revival in Paletwa and in Myanmar at large.

 

Since not enough plates, leaves were used to put food and bamboo for soup.

 

Opening ceremony of Gyi Lee Church

 

Rev. Lal Sawi Chuanga cut of the ribbon to open Gyi Lee church.

What a great joy to dedicate Gyi Lee Church building to God for His glory!

A missionary from Northern Chin at Paletwa mission field. He got married with a native and now has three lovely children. He is praying to build a church building since they are rotating worship service among newly converted members every Sundays.

Animist Sacrificial Altar

Our EMC Pastor Ram Thang coming from the boundary of Myanmar-Bangladesh to attend the convention and ECC training at Gyi Lee. It took 4 days to come to Paletwa.

Every Community for Christ (ECC) Training of our workers at the New Church Building

Our new convert Mr. Tun Yu is sharing his story after learning how to tell MY STORY. He is to be guided carefully by our appointed workers for a time being as he is a new convert. (Since we needed to use the blackboard, the village school was to close because there is only one blackboard)

 

 

They also learned “I AM SECOND” Bible study, 12 principles of planting churches, and Train & Multiply books.

 
 

They said they never had such wonderful training. They discussed and decided new target and strategy for outreach ministry according to their respective regions. Please pray that they will be effectively used to extend God’s Kingdom in Paletwa mission field.They also learned “I AM SECOND” Bible study, 12 principles of planting churches, and Train & Multiply books.

EMC Hostels at Paletwa Town

We have hostels at our mission station/quarters for about 7 years. And it is a very good way of reaching the unbelievers to Christ. For Middle school (Grade 6-9) and High school (Grade 10-11) are available only in Paletwa town. Since those who have no relatives nor unable to rent a house cannot continue their education beyond their primary school (Grade 1-5). It is one of the reasons, Paletwa region is so backward. So, the church runs a hostel at our mission station with free of lodging. Students support themselves for food and the rest. Our missionary there leads morning and evening services. I listened their prayers and woo, it is like a Pentecost day of prayers.

Every year, students converted to Christians. This time 7 Buddhist students decided to become Christians in its 7th year of opening EMC hostel. So Rev. Lal Sawi Chuanga gave baptism with the consent of their parents who tell us that let their children be Christians first and they will become Christians later.

 

We have boys and girls hostels. Below is boys hostel. The boys’ ladder is about 75 degrees.

 

 

The girl’s hostel is under the quarters. We are praying to repair and enlarge our hostels as they are very crowded as 47 of them staying together. We have no chairs, no tables, no furniture for studying. They received government electricity 3 hours a day. Because of limited space, each year many students have to stop their education. Besides we have no church building for worship.

1. Mr. Aung Pho (18 yrs)

He enrolled at EMC hostels in 2006. Although he wasn’t converted into Christian in 2006, he started praying for the conversion of his parents since then. He took baptism in 2007. As our borders boys and girls are preached the gospel every morning and evening, after one year he knew lots about the Gospel. He then shared about the Gospel to his parents/family since then. At first his family didn’t listen to him. But they started seeing the change of their son’s life. Although his father didn’t want to become a Christian, he dared not drink before his young son. As the strong prayers of the hostel, his whole family became Christians in 2008. Now they are like the pillar of the church in their village.

He is now doing his matriculation. His ambition is to join the Bible school when he passes the matriculation examination and to become a missionary pastor in his region where many of them are Buddhist animists.

2. Mr. Aye Chain (12 yrs) of Grade 4

I am sorry I don’t have his photo for he was with the Lord in August 2009. Our missionary from northern Chin State, who also lost his eldest son due to malaria in the mission field, told me about his faithful convert which amazed him how much a child can trust in the Lord!

Mr. Aye Chain and his whole family converted to Christians in April 2009. One day, he got a severe tooth pain. As there are neither medicines nor doctor in his village, his parents, out of pity to the suffering of their child, often tempted him to allow them to sacrifice animals to evil spirits to remove his tooth pain. But like Daniel’s friends, he denied to bow down before the evil spirits even if it costs his life. They are poor and unable to go to Paletwa town for medication. Later his face was swelling and unable to eat food, he softly sang Christian songs and his face so calm in spite of the severe pain. Everybody knows that he wasn’t afraid to die but had a peace of mind. What a faithful EMC boy in Paletwa mission field!

Conclusion

We give thanks and glory to God for your faithful prayers and financial assistance to Myanmar EMC without which we may not be able to continue our mission outreach among the animists and the Buddhists.

Please continue to remember us in your prayers for Myanmar EMC where only 6% of the whole population is Christian. We sincerely believe that God chooses us, EMC, to be an agent of change in Myanmar.

In His grace,

James