Doing Something with Nothing
"It is true that we may desire much more. But let us use what we have, and God will give us more." ~ Adoniram Judson; 19th century missionary to Myanmar (Burma)
In December I had the privilege of meeting and worshiping with dozens of pastors, missionaries, and their congregations in Myanmar (Burma).
As their sister in Christ, it was truly a time to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. My days were spent with rural pastors and missionaries who face challenges that I have never faced, but who experience joy that comes only from complete reliance on God.
I struggled with the words to describe both the individual churches and the overall church in Myanmar, but I realized the Apostle Paul had already done it! His description of the churches of Macedonia is shockingly similar to what I found in Myanmar.
"Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God." ~ 2 Corinthians 8:1-5
From church congregations, to families, to individuals, I saw people in the midst of trials – persecution, sickness, personal loss - respond with inexplicable joy and give generously - not only of their finances, but of their lives, despite their poverty.
Not perfect people, by any means, but people who are undeniably filled with the Holy Spirit.
Khin* is one of our lead pastors. When I asked where most of his support came from (HB is only able to support these pastors modestly, and not regularly), he paused, then said,
"Well, only Jesus. We have no one else to rely on, so we have to have faith in only Him. I often do not know where I will get food for the day for my family, but so far, God has never made me fast longer than a day! But I am ready when He does. He will be faithful to sustain our ministry."
Jia* and Xi* are a young missionary couple. As Jia was about to give birth, Xi was arrested on false charges because of their ministry. Xi was released with help from The Voice of the Martyrs, and both husband and wife continue to minister to the community that persecuted them.
Another pastor, Kyaw*, continues to serve his congregation, and share the Gospel, despite his church being burned to the ground by radical Buddhists.
A single woman, Grace*, is the only Christian in her village, yet has continued to do ministry faithfully on her own for seven years. She is supported by several churches around the country.
Than* was tortured for days in prison, after accepting Christ while in the military. When he was released he decided to become a pastor. He told me,
"It has been a joy to suffer for Christ, and to serve Him. I want others to know His joy."
Mya* and Kyi* are two incredible women who started a successful prison ministry despite seemingly impossible barriers, great physical danger, and a financial burden on themselves.
From pastors to children, I met few who were sure of where their next meal would come from.
Yet, I met dozens of Christians who had given what they could to help with the medical bills of believers they had never met on the other side of the country.
Several pastors have adopted abandoned and orphaned children, despite the fact they hardly had enough to provide for their families beforehand.
One family has taken in 32 children whose parents were killed in a nearby civil war, in addition to their own five children. Most of the little ones were found abandoned in their homes, the woods, or on the road; it's unlikely many would have survived had David* and his wife, Ruth*, not taken them in.
They've done this with no outside help, only with the support of their small village church.
A 70 year-old couple, Cho* and Aung*, have given everything they have - their land and home - to be used for the local church.
I celebrated Christmas with small churches that came together with what little they had to hold Christmas outreaches in their villages, presenting the Gospel to hundreds.
Like the churches of Macedonia, the churches of Myanmar have learned to support the Body of Christ, despite what little they have. They have given out of an abundance of joy and deep poverty, to support those in even greater need.
Harvest Bridge comes alongside those who have done something with nothing. This is a key factor in our ministry approach. This is what defines the men and women we seek to support in Myanmar.
Currently, Myanmar is the only country where our local ministry partners do not receive regular monthly support – yet these believers have taken what little they have and used it all for Christ. They have had no choice but to rely on God for everything, and so have seen great fruit in their ministries.
The Body of Christ is a part of carrying out God's faithfulness toward these believers. We have a role to play in supporting them.
"For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality." ~ 2 Corinthians 8:13-14
Near tears, Pastor Khin, the same one who said he was ready to fast when God called him to, told me,
"We have so many accepting Christ, but we are desperate for training to disciple these new believers."
The men and women we come alongside in Myanmar have been faithful in what little they have.
If we followed their example of generosity, how much more could they do with the support of the global church Not just in finances, but through discipleship resources, prayer, and encouragement from their brothers and sisters in Christ. You can join these men and women by giving below, and through prayer.
Kate Therese, Director of Mobilization
*Names changed for security