My recent visit with our partner Pastor Samuel* from Myanmar (Burma) reminded me the secret of serving God fruitfully, with peace and joy.
Before sharing the key, let me tell you a little about Pastor Samuel.
With few resources, Samuel and his wife Martha* care for their two biological children and 18 other children in need. Since 2000, approximately 100 children have benefited from their loving care.
In addition, Samuel operates a small Christian book publishing business that has translated and printed 26 books, with another 29 books ready to print as funds become available. To help make ends meet, Pastor Samuel teaches at three Bible colleges, where he earns a total of only $15 per month.
He now leads a team of 29 missionaries, mostly former students, who serve in some of the most dangerous, unreached parts of the country.
No one who knew Samuel as a child could have predicted the direction his life took. Samuel was born into a poor family of low social status in the highlands of northern Myanmar. At age 14, he migrated on foot into neighboring India in search of work.
Over the next decade, Samuel had several opportunities to build a prosperous life outside of Myanmar, including business ventures in India and the offer of asylum in the United Kingdom. Instead, he went to seminary, earned money through diligent work, and saved all he could to prepare for his return to Myanmar.
Even now, Samuel and his family live simply on rice and lentils. The only meat in their diet is a weekly serving of chicken soup.
In spite of his sacrifices, there is not a trace of regret or self-righteousness in Samuel. He is cheerful and at peace.
Samuel discovered the key to Christian living at age 15. Though raised by Christian parents, Samuel had the misconception that he had to earn God’s favor through good works. In spite of his best efforts, Samuel felt that he always fell short. This changed when he digested Ephesians 2:8-9 for the first time, and realized that his anxious striving to be acceptable to God was futile and unnecessary.
We are saved by God’s grace, not our works!
Samuel shed the burden of trying to earn God’s approval and was able to receive, for the first time, God’s unconditional love.
He knew he was not alone in feeling burdened by his sins and imperfections, so he resolved to return to Myanmar to proclaim God’s grace and to live with grace toward others. Despite the challenges and meager resources, he is now happy and free.
Many of us, like Pastor Samuel, have struggled with feelings of inadequacy. We try to live morally and do good deeds but we know we are imperfect and may feel that we are unacceptable to God. I know firsthand that these feelings are very painful and can cause us to withdraw from God.
The antidote, as Samuel discovered, is to thoroughly digest the Biblical message of grace. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39)!
As Pastor Samuel’s life illustrates, our acceptance of God’s grace increases our capacity to give. Grace opens our eyes to God’s love for us and sets us free from insecurity, so we can extend God’s love to others.
We can’t thank you enough for your partnership in loving God and others through your prayers and support of HB. To come alongside Pastor Samuel’s ministry, please write “Pastor Samuel” on donations made by check, or give below to the General Myanmar (Burma) Ministry fund.
Grace and peace in Christ,
Tim M., President
*Names changed for safety