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Myanmar (Burma) Coup Updates

In the early hours of Monday, February 1st, the Myanmar (Burma) military staged a coup and seized power after detaining Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratically elected leaders. Both of our country directors – Pastors Pan* and Thang* – and other pastors were concerned that this would happen, as the military-backed party had been claiming the election would be fraudulent even before it was held on November 8th, 2020. After the election, they continued making these allegations without evidence of widespread fraud. Now the military has arrested Aung San Suu Kyi and has declared a state of emergency for a year, seizing control of the country.

Pastor Pan and many other pastors have begun holding small prayer fellowships three days a week, where they pray together and share information which is then spread to their wider communities. Many pastors and Christians are becoming leaders in the peaceful resistance to this brutal military dictatorship. As Pastor Pan has said, this is not about fighting for one leader – Aung San Suu Kyi – it is for the sake of saving the lives of Muslims, Christians, and many ethnic minorities who are at great risk, and also for the sake of their children’s future. 

Below, you will find updated messages from our two directors in the country, Pastors Pan and Thang, about the ongoing coup. 

Several notes – 

1. Some messages have been shortened or people and place names redacted, so as not to share identifying details.

2. Messages begin with the most recent date and move backwards. 

3. Messages from Pan are marked with a “P” and messages from Thang with a “T”. Pan lives in a more rural part of the country, and therefore has slightly more open communication, as major cities will bear the early brunt of military crackdowns. Pastor Thang, on the other hand, lives in a major city. So, we have received many more messages from Pan within the first two weeks of the coup.  

4. We are sharing the messages we are receiving from our leaders as we receive them. In such a time of uncertainty, not all of the information they are gathering will turn out to be accurate. However, so far most of what they have found out from local sources have been confirmed by international news organizations within days. They also share their opinions on how the world should respond, and they may change those opinions based on how the coup continues to unfold. We feel it is important to share as much as we can directly from the citizens of Myanmar in this moment, with no filter on their words (as long as it is safe to do so). Not all of their messages will include explanations of what they are referring to. To follow the whole situation more closely in the news, we recommend Frontier Myanmar as well as NPR and BBC Asia. 

5. As this continues, our commitment to coming alongside the men and women we support in Myanmar will continue. It will certainly look different, but as always, our focus is to come alongside believers reaching their own people for Christ in the most effective ways possible. 

*Names changed for safety


Monday night (Myanmar time), March 1st: 

P – “It seems the military targets churches and pastors because in Lashio one church has been attacked and the pastors were taken to jail. In another town, one church pastor’s quarters were burnt yesterday, and today also the same thing happened. One of the churches that was attacked was near to us and the other one is a little far. We knew each other.

Some of the news said that General Min Aung Hlaing and another three main Junta leaders flew to China on Saturday night. The Bangkok post also confirmed this news.”

Monday morning (Myanmar time), March 1st: 

P – “As of Feb. 28, the military regime has arrested 1132 people.”

Sunday night (Myanmar time), February 28th:

P – “Very sad news; 23 people were killed and many injured.”

Wednesday night (Myanmar time), February 24th:

P – “Lydia* has come back and they are ok right now.”

T – “I do hear from our partners; they are all having the same problems even among their church members because no work due to the protest. We need your prayers for all our partners in different parts of Myanmar.

There is nothing we can do, just cry to God to save our people from the difficulty that we all face and will face in the coming days. Please keep remembering us in your prayer for our freedom.

Right now there is not open persecution, but you can’t speak out about what is right or wrong – about injustice. We are under pressure all the time. It is like eternal hell – suffering all the pain all the time, but no end through death. Suffering is constant. There was a break from this pressure for several years, but now, under the coup, the pressure is back. At night time we have to stay awake. We need to stay awake to watch. We need to be very attentive in the night and sound the alarm if anything happens. Constantly we are watching our words and actions. It is suffocating. 

All the protestors are in the street and then they clean everything up. They are very respectful. The young generation is very powerful and humble and wise. I am very impressed with them, and motivated by them. I am praying for these protestors to not be harmed and be able to have peaceful rest. 

We need all your prayer to stay firm in our faith and to be wise and to be humble and to forgive all the time and understand all the time. But we are not losers. We overcome everything in Christ. But we always must obey the Lord.”

Monday night (Myanmar time), February 22nd: 

P – “More and more people are coming out for demonstration in my town. No one is harmed here and it is peaceful here today. But banks are still closed and only a few ATM machines are functioning.

Sunday morning (Myanmar time), February 21st: 

T – “Thank you for all the prayer, till today many people are arrested and injured. We are still alarmed and fearful. Please keep on remembering us in your prayer. Within a few more days I think many people will suffer – due to the protest all offices and banks are closed with no service and no work. We have no idea how long will it be. Till today we are taking care of our quarter/ward under the leadership of the people who live here and we take responsibility. Please keep on remembering us in your prayers with many thanks.”

Saturday night (Myanmar time), February 20th: 

P – “Today, the military shot dead 2 people and 21 people were seriously injured.

It happened near to Lydia’s* place [in Mandalay] and she and her family fled to another village for safety. She said that most of the community left to the other side of the river.

Just now the RFA news confirmed that 35 people injured and 7 people died.”

Wednesday night (Myanmar time), February 17th

P – “More and more government workers are participating in the CDM including the International and Domestic airline aviation. Attentions are higher and higher and more and more people have come out to the street though the police and army were so stuck to their duties. Aung San Suu Kyi was accused with three cases which all the World leaders have strongly condemned. Banks are still closed except the Junta owned bank. The Junta owned bank called Myawady Bank was open today and all customers who came to the bank went just to withdraw their money from the bank. They closed the bank at 12:00 noon because they are afraid that they will lose all their customers.

The Chinese troops are mixing with the Myanmar Military. The Junta leaders said that the Chinese troops came to help our cyber system. It shows that there are Chinese troops on the ground already.

The Junta leaders said that they will take one year and conduct a new election. No one believes that and that’s why people are strongly standing against them because we have experienced their acts in the past 30+ years. What the people of Myanmar are saying is if we lose this time, we will never get back a civilian government or democracy. Definitely, the Military will continue on their path to win and rule over us. If they lose their power they will immediately have to face the ICC which they already have a case against them. They are very much afraid of that. On the other hand, they don’t care for international condemnations on their activities unless the the UN troops or the US Army take action on them. I want to call upon the UN troops or the US Army to come and save the people of Myanmar before many lives are lost.

Very disturbing news: ‘Counterfeit banknotes from Chinese bank have arrived in Myanmar. According to a report from the Central Bank of China, 5,000/10,000 tonnes of counterfeit goods were produced in China because the military council did not have the money to pay the salaries of its employees.’

The Myanmar Military announced that China is not helping them. But just before 3 hours, there was a great problem between the Military and the protesters at the main train station in Mandalay. There were more than 60 gun shots happening, confirmed by the RFA. No detailed news has come out yet but the situation seems so worse. The people there confirmed that there were many Chinese speaking gunmen among them.

Five popular artists who participated in the CDM have been arrested by the Military just before 1 hour which was confirmed by the MRTV news. Now 427 people were arrested according to the news. They released their names as well.

You may not hear me again until 9:00 am tomorrow. I still have another 10 minute before they block the internet.”

Tuesday morning (Myanmar time), February 16th

P – “The internet was blocked 12 am to 9 am this morning again. Internet will be cut out from 1AM to 9AM everyday.

Cyber security law has been enforced (Announced on MRTV 8PM News). It’ll be stated in the newspaper tomorrow. Note: They’re amending the existing E Transaction Law to look like their Proposed Cyber Law Draft since amendment does not need public reviews.

It is said that there are more than 50,000 Chinese troops and there are another hundred thousands Chinese troops on the border line to guard the Junta leaders. Many people believed this would happen soon. We couldn’t sleep in the night and we are full of fear.”

T – “We believe Chinese troops are here in my city. We are in great danger. If something went wrong, they will not have compassion and concern upon the people since they are not from here. So, we the people are encouraging one another to be careful and sensitive as well as wise. Please keep on remembering us in your prayer. With many thanks.”

Monday evening (Myanmar time), February 15th

P – “Many Chinese troops have come to Myanmar last night by planes to help the Junta leaders. Very sad. Today, we have seen many Chinese army on duty in Yangon and Naypyidaw.”

Monday morning (Myanmar time), February 15th:

T – “The most important need is prayers and safety because all government, university students, teachers, nurses and doctors, engineers, and company workers are involved in CDM [Civil Disobedience Movement] and protest. These people’s lives are uncertain and they are also urged to move from where they live. Please pray for all these people and their safety. Thank you for your great concerns and prayers because the prayers of the righteous are fervent and powerful. It has been always a blessing and encouragement for us that we know that HB, as well as the church, are with us spiritually and mentally.”

P – “We have been back online after 8 hours ban. 

Two MAI (Myanmar Airways International) flights made six round trips from Yangon to Kunming last night…There is no flight list for these planes at Mingaladon Airport or Kunming Airport. What makes it even more suspicious is that when these planes take off and land, the radar is turned off and the airport is connected to an air traffic control tower. Radar disappears near Yangon Airport and near Kunming Airport. However, the radar path can sometimes be seen as evidence. This is what happens during the time when the internet is blocked. Many people believe that the Junta leaders’ families have fled to China. Min Aung Hlaing’s family had fled already to Russia and Thailand on Feb. 2. 

The Chinese Xinhua confirmed that the US drone entered into the Myanmar air space [still a rumour]. That gives a great warning to the Junta Leaders. These Junta leaders are not afraid of the UN council since China and Russia are on their side with veto power. But they are always afraid of US. Whenever the US decides to do things, the US really does. Also, as we know the US is always concerned for human rights for the whole world and freedom of the people. It will be a great help.”

Sunday night (Myanmar time), February 14th:

T – “We are in a great need of your prayer. As I have said, we are always alarmed, especially in night time. Please kindly remember us in your prayer for our lives and our people.

My family and I just went one day to the protests. According to the news, our internet will be cut off at 1:00 am very soon. We are urged to be awake the whole night because army released thousands of criminal prisoners to cause problems in every township. We have seen an increase in danger because they arrest people at night. Thank you for everything and your prayer with the great concern.”

P – “Update Feb. 14: Internet will be shut down from 1 am to 9 am (electricity also) tomorrow at the same time. 

There are lots of light tanks, many police cars and water cannon trucks on Yangon’s main roads this evening, and over 20,000 prisoners were released during these days and they had been threatening for two straight nights in Yangon and Mandalay. We are feeling upset and unsafe.

I believe the military can shut down internet still, but because of the international pressure they still allow access.”

Sunday morning (Myanmar time), February 14th:

P – “It’s Feb. 14, 00:12 already and we are still able to access our internet.

Thank God our internet connection doesn’t fail till now [5 am].”

Saturday night (Myanmar time), February 13th:

T – “Thank you very much for your prayers and concern. We really need your prayer for safety. At present, everybody is afraid of people who have been released from prison causing problems everywhere. Even in our street we all are taking security turns for the whole night. Please pray for our people.”

P – “The protesters are continuing and the situation is worsened. The Military used their arms and shot the peaceful protesters and more and more democratic elected leaders are arrested day by day.

It is worse in my town now also since the military couldn’t stop the peaceful demonstrators and they are using what they have. There was a man who was hired to fire on the [redacted for safety] town. He said that he was given Ks. 500,000 [$350]. He also admitted that he was given two injections at his neck and after the injections he could only think how to destroy the [redacted] town. He was found and arrested by the peaceful demonstrators and he is under the control of our people. Our people don’t want to submit him to the hands of the police because they know that he will be released if he was submitted to hands of the police. He was one of the men who was released on Feb 12 from the jail and he also said that there are many people like him throughout Myanmar. This is a very dangerous situation.

This has been shared from a fellow civilian and has been circulated on Feb 13 at 2:30 am:

‘There have been threats to our lives in our neighborhood in the past three hours. As announced on the military government TV channels, more than 20,000 prisoners have been released early morning on February 12. Those prisoners were intentionally sent into the different parts of the cities and towns all over the country almost at the same time with the only intention being to threaten the peoples’ lives in different neighborhoods late the same night. They were dropped off in small vehicles and they also brought some tools to set fires. Some of them used motorbikes and rode on different roads to cause trouble to people. Therefore, people in the same neighborhood have been gathering in small groups in their quarters to guard all our houses, our families and our lives. There have been a lot of live updates on Facebook telling each other that this is happening in most parts of the country. There have been some footages of the drones in some locations where they started those threats. Their plan is definitely to create big lies to the world that people are gathering late at night to violate. Actually they are setting them up so as for them to have a stupid excuse for their coup. This is what is happening in Myanmar and our lives are now at risk. We need immediate and serious actions to be taken on this situation.’

This is from a circulation from protestors:

‘The moves the military successfully used against the protesters in 1988 are coming back.

They release prisoners with criminal cases. After intoxicating them, they make them mix in with the crowd and cause violence. At night, the intoxicated thugs will move freely, without restrictions from the 144 law (The curfew). They’ll make false alarms and bang ironware. They’ll all give different answers during interrogations by the locals. They’ll attack random people among the crowds. The cops will come only when people are dead, or severely injured. They’ll destroy houses and shops. They’ll break into warehouses. They’ll rob rice shops and stores. They’ll poison water supplies. They’ll sacrifice about 5 cops and blame it on the citizens. They’ll spread rumours that lawlessness is spreading. Then, soldiers will take over in all cities, and they’ll patrol the streets and kidnap people.

The military will kidnap some leaders of the protest. They’ll break the spirits of teachers and other bureaucratic staff. They’ll make them choose between giving up their jobs and licenses, and promotion. They’ll kidnap members of parliament. They’ll kidnap and torture members of the opposition parties. They’ll make them choose between denouncing their party and quitting it, and long prison sentences and oppressions on their family members. They’ll make announcements and press conferences saying that party has connections with armed insurgent organizations, and made deals with foreign powers. They’ll sue the party for state treason. Then, they’ll announce that the party has been abolished. They’ll arrest anyone who possesses that party’s symbols. They’ll write a new constitution, this time with the PR system. They’ll hold a new election without NLD participation.’

Myanmar, my country, right now is like zombie movies. We have to stay in fear when the sun goes down and the dark comes. Police and soldiers are arresting people by force at night. The criminals – intentionally released from prison – are causing violence in the dark. Our only hope is serious action from UN Human Rights Council and international community.”

Friday night (Myanmar time), February 12th:

P – “Update for today: Myanmar Military & police have been conducting illegal arrest with armed forces without warrants every late night & now it has been over 220 political activists, elected government leaders, Union Election Committee members, and civil servants, such as teachers and doctors who are doing civil disobedience movements, etc.”

Friday morning (Myanmar time), February 12th: 

P – “According to news this morning, more and more people were arrested throughout the night by the Junta leaders.”

Thursday night (Myanmar time), February 11th:

P – “Breaking News: Internet line will be cut off for 14 days from Feb 14 to Feb 28 in Myanmar. Very sad. I call everyone to speak out on our behalf to international leaders. We are in a very dangerous situation. If it is shutdown, it will not be possible to communicate. There is no way to get other connectivity. We are not sure yet if the phone line will be shut down or not. Previously, only local calls are available, though the phone was opened. If the phone lines are working, I still don’t think we can communicate by phone. I am sure that international calls will be cut off. Many people believe that during this time the Military will hurt the people and will do whatever they want to the people since they can’t control the people right now. Till now, 174 political leaders have been arrested and some other protester leaders. They also began to arrest the government workers who participated in the demonstration.

More updates: Just now about 8:00 pm, the military is forcing a move of government workers such as health workers, school teachers, bankers, municipal workers, tax workers, etc., those who are involved in the Civil Disobedience Movement. Most of the head leaders are arrested and the rest of the people are forced to move by the Military from where they live since these workers are housed freely by the government. Some of the workers are housed by the government. Not all government workers, but those who are transferring from another place are given first priority. Now some of the charity organizations are taking care of them as they move out. These people are in a serious condition and need a great help for their housing and their daily food. They were not allowed to take any of their property also. This is a very serious situation.”

Thursday morning (Myanmar time), February 11th: 

P – “According to the news, more than 10 state officers – NLD political leaders – have been arrested last night. Their families didn’t know where they are and they can’t contact them.

I have seen Biden announced sanctions. That was very encouraging news. The people of Myanmar are encouraged to know that the US stands with us. But this kind of sanctions will not hurt the military, as they aren’t afraid of it. Because China is always with the military.

Now the NLD, as well as the demonstrators are calling on UN for a concern. This Saturday the 47 countries of the UN Human Right’s Council will have a meeting on the military coup in Myanmar. Of course, now also India is watching the military activities very closely. This news came out after Biden had a talk with the Indian Prime minister.

[On preference of name of Burma vs. Myanmar] Actually, the US always used Burma. Here in Yangon, the US embassy still uses the word Burma not Myanmar. I think, we all prefer Myanmar. Why we called it Myanmar is because there are many tribes living together. That is why we call it Myanmar. The original name of the Burmese is Burma. If we use this word, it focuses only on one tribe, which is Burma. When we call it Myanmar, it focuses on the fact that many tribes who live in Myanmar belong to this country. This question is asked frequently even by the citizens of Myanmar.

The lawyer who defended the case of Aung San Suu Kyi and our president has been arrested just now.”

Wednesday night (Myanmar time), February 10th:

P – “Today more and more protesters marched peacefully in all cities. Thankfully, many police, lawyers, artists and charity organizations and all the departments of the government workers have been involved. We have also seen the military and armed forces with full weapons. We are also glad to learn that the US, UN and the other countries have been condemning very strongly the activities of the Military Coup. We pray that all these things will result in a good way. 

There is a need for help for the protesters. Since they have no time to go for jobs and they can’t make money for their family. Especially in Yangon, we have seen some people donating to some families, those who are fully involved in this activity. We believe that this will take time and there will be a great need for the people. 

According the FB news, many of the cyber experts have arrived last night from China and we are afraid that there will be internet limitations. We have heard today that Aung San Su Kyi and our President’s FB accounts were hacked and released fake news. Some of high ranking members of the NLD warned the people to not believe that fake news.

There are organizations that can give direct help to protesters in a secrete way but not publicly. We will not be able to help all, but there are leaders who work tirelessly. These are the people we want to focus on. Also there are some Christians who participated in this activity and these are also who we want to focus on helping.”

Wednesday morning (Myanmar time), February 10th:

P – “We believe the world could do something to the Junta leaders.

This morning, the Junta leaders are blocking all the main roads. We can’t go here and there freely. The food supplies are available right now with the same price as before. But we are in shortage of food at our home since we have taken many new children recently.”

Tuesday evening (Myanmar time), February 9th:

P – “Demonstrators have been continuing. One college student has been shot dead and another four were injured seriously in Naypidaw. In my town, many people come and there are lots of armed forces around the city. The situation has worsened. Please continue to pray for us.”

Monday evening (Myanmar time), February 8th:

P – “Many, many people came out on the street today in every city. It is estimated that nearly 1.5 million are marching. All government offices are closed including the banks because everyone participated in the Civil Disobedience Campaign. The Junta has announced curfew from 8:00 pm – 4:00 am and it effects from today onward. Though the demonstrators peacefully marched, the police and military are watching to fire. The tension of the people is higher, and on the other hand the Military is launching the fire cannon and many people were hurt very badly. There is not a single plan for the pandemic by these Junta leaders. Our mentality is badly hurt and we are in a danger situation. Now many army people are changing their uniforms and wearing the police uniforms so that the international community cannot blame the military being involved in this activity.”

Sunday evening (Myanmar time), February 7th:

P – “We have just re-accessed the internet after 39 hours banned. I don’t know how long they will open. Thank you for your prayers. All phone lines and internet will soon be closed again according to the news. I and my family as well as the orphan children are safe but our future is uncertain. On the other hand, the Covid 19 positive cases are rising up here in our town. Thank you for your continued prayers. Demonstrators have come out to the street in all cities to condemn the Military activities. Firing order has begun. It is worse.

The military will shoot the demonstrators. I hope that there will be some changes/ accomplishments because of all the people involved in these demonstrations. But I think this will take time.

I believe the junta re-opened the internet because there are many pressures from around the world. We cannot communicate with other parts of the world when internet is shut down. But we can communicate locally this time. On Feb. 1, phone lines were shut down and we could not communicate even locally. We are not able to get news when the internet is shut down. Thank you so much for their [churches] prayers for us.

I hope that there must be changes because the way the Junta acted was shameful before the world. Let the US stand with us this time to save Myanmar. I believe if the US troops are sent to Myanmar, they will immediately stop what they are doing. The Junta will not be able to go against the US troops. If these kind of actions will not be taken, the Junta will act as they are. I wish the US troops or the UN troops will be sent to Myanmar immediately before many people lose their lives here. Otherwise, they will shoot people and kill as they did in 1988 since they control all the weapons.

One good news is that there are some armed forces and police forces who do not agree with it. They are on the civilian’s side. This is according to the local news. We have learned through FB that some have been resigned from their military service. But they are in danger and they don’t want the news widely spread out. I talked with [the pastors who do some ministry with soldiers] and they can’t get into the army base. The military base is totally shutdown from all communications from outsiders. Some will side with the people. Especially the military Christians would be on our side.

The biggest hospital here in my town was closed because the health staff are involved in civil disobedience campaign. Many health workers have also resigned because they said that they don’t want to serve under the Junta. Some patients were sent back home and some were transferred to military hospital.”

Friday afternoon (Myanmar time), February 5th: 

P – “The members of the Government are being arrested one by one.”

Friday morning (Myanmar time), February 5th:

P – “I was 14 years old when the Junta took over control in 1988. I have been experiencing how painful it was to survive under the dictatorship rule. I do not feel safe and free even right now.

In my town, we don’t see much police and army around us but in Yangon, Naypidaw and Mandalay, there they are full of Army and Police with full weapons roaming here and there. They don’t care for a small city like my town; if they take over control of those main cities, they can easily control over the whole of Myanmar. At my town, things move as normal so far, but everyone is with fear and uncertainty.

Now we cannot talk openly about our government as some of the people who were involved in the civil disobedience campaign and young activists have been arrested. The Health Organization has started the Civil Disobedience Campaign, refusing to work under the new appointed leaders. The one worse thing is the Covid 19 vaccination has been blocked by the new leadership.

Thank you for your continued prayers.

I have talked with Pastor Thang and he is safe and he is still in his home town. He will be going down to Yangon on Monday.

We have not heard yet about the new plans for Covid 19 by the new leaders. Definitely, it will hurt more people and more people are in need of food since many businesses are not running right now or will close permanently. Please pray for us and if funds are available and if you can send us, this would be a great help for our people here who are poor and suffering because of Covid 19 and this new leaders’ pressure.”

Thursday morning (Myanmar time), February 4th:

P – “Morning news: The Junta leaders announced that Facebook will be blocked for three days in Myanmar and anyone who opposes the new administration will be arrested immediately.

I have not heard more arrests so far in my place. Things are worse in the bigger cities. Everyone is silent in my place and scared for the future. Our pastors have not been facing any problems so far and they are doing well.”

Wednesday evening (Myanmar time), February 3rd:

P – “As of today, we are sad to hear that the president and our state counselor have been charged to be in prison. Some of the senators have been released and asked to leave and to go back to their homes by the new government. The banks are operating as before. But nobody can predict whether it will continue or not. It seems the international pressure will not work because China is on the military’s side. China it seems used their veto in the UN council. We also read that the military started beating some of the government workers in Yangon division. Also the internet was blocked for six hours in Yangon, but it’s good in my place.

We are discouraged mentally, and our hope to have a civil government is still far away here. But we put our trust in God, that He will do the best for us. Thank you all for your prayers.”

Tuesday evening (Myanmar time), February 2nd, a day and a half after the coup:

P – “The worst news [about the coup] is that the Buddhist organizations agreed with the military, because what they have always been trying for is to make Myanmar a Buddhist country. Christians will suffer more and more.

Today onward, the Myanmar health organizations have started a civil disobedience campaign, as they don’t want to serve under these new appointed leaders. We are in a very hopeless situation. We need your prayers. The Covid-19 vaccination is also terminated by the new leader. Also, the vaccine carrier plane was sent back by the new leader.

I heard that the Military Junta leader visited some churches in Yangon, but nobody knows what they are doing. There is not any news released by them. Everyone is effected very badly. We are in fear about our future. The banks are open today – Let’s see how they will operate. We believe there will be great problems. Those struggling for food will of course be affected. We believe that there will be a shortage of food because the new leaders shut down companies. My children feel very bad, and they fear because the military is roaming here and there.

I was told that at midnight the internet and phone lines will be blocked again. But let’s see… Thank you for the prayers. We don’t see anyone taking immediate action internationally for this to be reversed. Unless international action is taken, there is no way for us, the people of Myanmar, to reverse this. I will share updates whenever I can.”

Monday evening (Myanmar time), February 1st, half a day after the coup: 

P – “Since midnight, we cannot access any phone or internet. All are shut down. We do not know any news yet. Thanks for your prayers. The arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi is very sad. I do not know if the internet will continue to be blocked, as it has opened just now. Even right now, our internet connections are very slow.”

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Pray for the Persecuted 2020: Myanmar (Burma)

On this third weekend of November, following the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, we continue to share the wisdom of our country leaders on persecution. This week, Pastor Pan* and Pastor Thang* in Myanmar (Burma) give their reflections.

Myanmar is 18th on Open Doors’ World Watch List, which lists the top 50 countries with the greatest persecution of Christians. Persecution has increased as Buddhist extremism and Burmese nationalism grows. For context, read Open Doors’ country profile here

Pastor Pan* has seen and experienced physical and psychological persecution in his two decades of full-time ministry. He is an encourager and connector of a network of dozens of pastors and missionaries throughout his country. A few years ago one of the women he mentored in ministry, Tabitha*, died of a premature “heart attack” the day after a mob of radical Buddhists and monks surrounded her home screaming threats. As she was 32 and healthy, it is unlikely her death was natural. Her crime was leading 12 men and women to faith in a village where she had been doing ministry for seven years.

Pastor Pan shares,

“Firstly, pray for all our partners for their safety during this pandemic. Secondly, pray for the persecuted Christians to be more strengthened in their faith. Thirdly, pray for the non-persecuted Christians not facing persecution in their lives. Finally, pray for the Gospel to be more fruitful through our efforts in Myanmar.

I personally learned and believe that persecution comes to us because of having faith in Jesus Christ and sharing His good news. Because most of our missionaries who have been facing persecution did nothing wrong with their community, but still they were opposed and persecuted. That means persecution took place because of the hatred of Jesus Christ and not because of the hatred of the man or the woman. I didn’t find any other reasons for facing opposition and persecution except having preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

During the past quarter, I haven’t experienced any persecution directly. But we must be wise when evangelizing in the villages. Even though we did not face persecution directly, the new believers’ faith is persecuted by their relatives and their communities to not follow Christian faith. But by the grace of God, though they faced persecution because of their faith, they don’t care about that. Instead, they grow in their faith.

Pastor Na*, who I serve with, recently wrote, 

‘I have regular contact with the new believers in the place where we started a new fellowship in early March. I send a message from the Bible so that they can read by themselves and learn more from the Lord. But it is very sad that some of the people in their village said to them that they hate Christians because they destroyed their beliefs. They do not want Christians in their village. When they heard all these words from their village people, they were so scared for their future. But they still have faith in Jesus Christ more than before. Please, for their safety and their future lives, pray that this kind of persecution may not destroy their faith in Jesus Christ.’

Another Pastor I serve with, Maung*, shared this recently, 

‘Most of the time, we are working among the Palong people. They mix their beliefs between Animist and Buddhist. I usually call it Animist-Buddhism. These Palong people were very conservative in their beliefs of their forefathers. Many of the Palong villages are controlled by the Palong rebels and have no chance to believe in Jesus Christ. If someone under their control becomes a believer, that man will be dismissed immediately. In the Palong villages, there are people who are always disturbing our preaching. At the beginning of March, as we planned to visit one of the villages, we were stopped from entering and pushed back to not enter their village. There were about 20 people in a group who opposed us and warned us not to preach the Gospel in their village, even in the future. But the Lord still opened another village and we have seen two people come to the knowledge of salvation.

One was a man and his name is Niang*. I visited his village and shared the love of God with him personally. His past religion was Buddhism; I shared the love of God with him for more than two hours and he came to know Jesus Christ. He confessed his sins and accepted Christ as his Saviour and Lord. He is so active in his faith, and he is now the main person to get me access to the refugee camp in his area. I hope and believe that someday he will be one of the soul winners among the people there in the refugee camp. It is also my prayer that the Lord will speak to those who are willing to learn more about the living God and will change their lives with the love of God in the next outreaches.’

According to Luke 10, when Jesus sent the 72, He said, in verse 3, “Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” From that point I usually encourage the persecuted believers/missionaries, that ‘you are sent among the wolves’. You might face persecution, but that persecution will not be the end, but will bear fruits for the Kingdom of God.”

Pastor Thang* is also a connector of a network of pastors and missionaries. Although he has faced opposition for his faith in small ways, like the police giving him a citation for noise in his church, he would say he has not faced persecution himself. He brings perspective to praying for and learning from the persecuted church that believers in non-persecuted countries, like the US, may relate to.

He shares,

“To be honest, I find it very hard and difficult to say a word to those people who suffer and are persecuted as well as put into prison. Because if I am in that position, how hard will it be? But I want to share what I have been praying for them, as follows: 

When I was converted in 1990, I started to pray for the people who have been persecuted because of their faith till today. Also, I am praying for the persecutors and the authorities who mistakenly and wrongly persecute Christians, that they will turn their life into believing God and trusting, like Paul the apostle.

My prayer and encouragement and message to persecuted Christians is this: 

You brothers and sisters in Christ who are in prison and being persecuted, I give you the highest honor and respect for your faith and willingness to stand for God for any cause, even to death. Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” This verse is what you stand for. I personally just read it, but you are the one who is not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. So, I am always reminded that I am a very poor person in spirit and the Christian life. It has always been a challenge and encouragement for me whenever I pray for you.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, you are the transformers of the world through your faith in Christ, and stand without wavering in your faith even into the prison. Whereas many people are just speaking and confessing their faith in a normal life, you are strongly committed to the Lord. I always remember the life of Job’s suffering. God is so proud of him being faithful and trustworthy. God also knew that even though he would suffer and lose everything he has, he would never abandon God. That is why God allowed Satan to tempt and destroy his physical life, but saved his soul and life. So, you are God’s trusted men and women for the sake of other Christians, to be great examples and transform the life of the persecutor and non-Christian. So that through all your life our God will be glorified and manifested. I also pray for you and will pray for you at all times, as this is one of the greatest things that I can be part of in your suffering.”

Thank you for reading and praying! To support the work of Pan, Thang, and all the men and women we come alongside, you can give below. Next week, we will be sharing messages from leaders in Bangladesh, India, and Bhutan. 

*Names changed for safety

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Countries

Myanmar

Myanmar

Myanmar, also called Burma, takes up a landmass the size of Texas, yet has twice the population, with 54 million residents. A beautiful country with a majority Buddhist population, Myanmar is rich with history, architecture, precious gems, incredible landscapes, and diverse culture. The country has a long history of foreign colonization and local military rule. After being under a military junta since 1962, a gradual liberalization began in 2010, leading to free elections in 2015 and the installation of a government led by veteran opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi the following year. This led to an opening of the country, leading to an active tourism industry. Since then, an army operation and genocide against Muslim Rohingyas highlighted the continuing grip of military rule in Myanmar. On February 1st, 2021 the military staged a coup, claiming election fraud as their reason to declare a state of emergency and arrest Aung San Suu Kyi, while giving no evidence of the fraud. 

Now under the Military Junta again for the foreseeable future, Myanmar and the pastors and missionaries we come alongside there are walking into a completely new and extremely difficult era. We ask for your prayers for comfort, wisdom, and strength for the men and women we partner with and serve, and their fellow citizens. Now more than ever, we will continue to stand beside these brothers and sisters in their work of sharing the love of Christ. 

With a growing network of missionaries throughout the country, 26 of whom receive regular monthly support, Harvest Bridge comes alongside pastor training, child protection and education, women’s empowerment, economic development, printing and distribution of theological materials, and disaster relief. In 2020, about 3,675 men, women, and children – received several weeks’ worth of life-saving food supplies in the face of a hunger crisis precipitated by COVID-19 lockdowns. 51 children received monthly sponsorship. Nine women received micro-grants to invest in or continue their small businesses. Pastors and missionaries received 11 motorbikes and 15 bicycles to aid in their ministries. Over 120 men and women began following Jesus this past year, and 71 were baptized.

Capital: Naypyidaw

Population: 54 million

Religion: Buddhist 87.9%, Muslim 4.3%, Christian 6.2%, Other 1.6%

Persecution Watch List Country Ranking: 18

Ministries: Pastor TrainingChildren’s MinistryHope Through EducationVocational ProgramsDisaster Relief

Leadership Information: Our Myanmar leaders oversee church planting teams in five regions of the country, including areas affected by long-running civil war. In addition to planting dozens of churches among unreached people groups, they have established two children’s homes and an organization that advances the well-being of tribal people.

Give directly to our Myanmar fund:

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Stories

Provision through Crisis

“I want to begin this letter by saying thank you to you and the donors for providing these food items for the people of Myanmar during this time of difficulties and hardships. Thank you for standing with us at this time.” ~Pastor Khaw* 

As Covid-19 and its ripple effects have spread throughout the world, Myanmar (Burma) stands out as one of the worst-affected countries. 

Despite sharing over 1,300 miles of its border with China and being heavily intertwined economically with its northern neighbor, Myanmar’s government downplayed the threat of Covid-19 and did not announce the nation’s first confirmed case until March 23rd. Amid the government’s early denial, an official even claimed the “lifestyle and diet” of Myanmar’s people protected them from the virus. 

Once containment measures were implemented, their poorly-planned, patchwork nature led to disruptions in supply chains of food and other necessities. Alongside the virus, the greatest threat quickly became hunger for the many millions living in poverty.

Physical distancing is difficult in Myanmar’s urban areas, as well as in the many camps for internally-displaced persons forced from their homes due to conflict between the Burma Army and various ethnic-minority armed separatist groups. Regions controlled by these separatist groups have implemented their own lockdown policies, further complicating a coordinated response. The country’s testing capacity remains limited, and its healthcare system was weak even in the best of times.

Our pastors and missionaries began small-scale food distributions even before receiving additional funds. Through your prayers and support, we were able to respond swiftly and effectively through these local missionaries. They have completed two phases of life-saving food distributions for the poorest and most neglected, with a third phase to begin soon. 

Below, Pastor Khaw* in western Myanmar shares how your support and prayers are making a deep, holistic impact on the frontlines of this crisis in his village.

“I want to begin this letter by saying thank you to you and the donors for providing these food items for the people of Myanmar during this time of difficulties and hardships. Thank you for standing with us at this time. Through your donations, 12 families will have enough food for the next one month. 

Praise the Lord for His provision. The people here were so thankful for the food. Each family received rice, beans, onions, cooking oil and potatoes. Thank you for the food supply, especially during this time as many people are not making money to purchase food.

The Lord has given us great opportunity to share His good news to the people in my village. They are open to the Gospel during this pandemic. Many people are willing to listen to the teaching of the Word of God, and they want to give their lives to Jesus. As of now, 12 people have come to the knowledge of salvation and 9 people are ready for water baptism as a testimony of their faith in Jesus Christ. God has given us a great harvest. I continue doing the follow-up work and safely visiting more houses to share the Good News of salvation. 

I want to include one testimony: 

‘I am Lien*. I was brought up in a Laipian [a small local religious cult] family. As I was taught, I never listened about Jesus Christ. But in this pandemic time, I was not sure if the Laipian god could take me to heaven. At that time, Pastor Khaw and his team visited my house and brought food for our family. They gave us food freely, which can feed us for one month. Not only that, but also Pastor Khaw shared with us about Jesus Christ who is the Savior of the world. I came to know that I am a sinner, who needs to be saved with the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. When he told me about this precious blood, my heart was moved because in my religion there is not the shedding of blood. Finally, I believed in Jesus Christ and accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. I thank God for saving my soul. I also want to say thank you to the ones who donated food to our family.’

Please continue to pray for more souls to be won for Christ during this time. Please continue to pray and help our people, as most of the people are struggling for their daily food. This will open more doors for the Gospel to the people here, which is the main focus for our ministry.”

Pastor Khaw and all of our partners in Asia face enormous hardship in this time, but they continue to use what they have to proclaim and demonstrate the Gospel. Your support and prayer have been crucial in equipping them to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the most tragic of circumstances. 

Thank you for continuing to stand with our brothers and sisters.

In Christ, Khaw and the Harvest Bridge Team  

*Names changed for safety       

Categories
Stories

Christmas for All

December’s newsletter is written by one of our Myanmar (Burma) directors, Pastor Than, whose name is changed for security. Pastor Than teaches at a seminary, runs a children’s home, operates a Christian book publishing ministry, and oversees a team of 30 missionaries.

Christmas greetings and thanks from Myanmar!

As we are going to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is a great opportunity for us to witness about the Saviour of the world, for sinners to come to the Lord, and for us to bring the joy of salvation to everyone. 

Especially in Myanmar, where Christmas is known by everyone, why not take advantage to tell about the birth of Jesus, the Saviour and Redeemer?

Many Christians here think that Christmas is for only Christians to celebrate because it has to do with Christianity. But in my understanding, Christmas is not for the Christian only. It is for all people. 

It has to be for sinners, who are desperately in need of help, being lonely, isolated, and disadvantaged, and who feel that they are forgotten, have sorrow in their heart, and instability in their mind. It is for those who need a redeemer and Saviour from all the burdens of their heart.

The Gospel of Mark 10:27 says, 

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man [being saved] is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’” 

And in Mark 10:45, 

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

In the Gospel of John, Chapter 5, we see the man who had been at the pool of Bethesda for 38 years. When Jesus came to Jerusalem for a feast, he saw this man out of the multitude of people. Jesus knew before he spoke with him about his suffering and waiting. When He came to know this man’s heart, Jesus asked him, 

“Do you want to be made well?”

I tell people, today, Jesus has come into the world to die for you and to save you from your sins. He asks to you too, 

“Do you want to be made well?” 

Do you want to be saved from your sins? Only Jesus can forgive your sin – just believe in Jesus.

In Luke 8, after spending her living on physicians and not being healed, a woman touches Jesus’ garment and is immediately healed. Jesus said to her, 

“Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

This is Christmas. Let us rejoice and be happy as we are going to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

On behalf of our missionary partnership, we would like to express our love and thanks to the churches and individuals who support and pray for us. 

You all have been so special and precious to us, as you have shown the kindness and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is our strength and courage that we have in being part of your family through Christ. 

Without all your support and prayer, we would not be able to do the work.

Merry Christmas and Many Thanks! 

Pastor Than and the Harvest Bridge team

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Stories

Serving with Peace and Joy

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

Categories
Stories

The Heart of Missions

Serve the LORD with gladness! ~ Psalm 100:2


My visit to Myanmar (Burma) last month started off on the wrong foot. From a human perspective, we were focused and productive, but I lost sight of the heart of what we do.

Thankfully, on my visit to a children’s home Harvest Bridge supports, God used the laughter and singing of children to reawaken me to the beauty and joy of serving Him, and I recalled that the kingdom of God is not just about miles traveled or the number of people reached, but “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). 

With my eyes refocused on the heart of missions, I was ready to learn from the amazing people I met.

When he became a Christian, Yaza* left the army, where he was a highly decorated officer, and became a missionary who faced much persecution. Yaza confided, “In the army, I received many medals, but none made me happy. Serving God makes me happy, even if I receive nothing.” 

We enter into the joy of Christ by serving Him (Mat. 25:21, 23).

Youth are liberated from drugs and find freedom in Christ at Pastor Nanda’s* church. Nanda told me that lively Christian music and hope are keys to their recovery. Perhaps this is why Paul encouraged people prone to alcohol abuse – and the rest of us – to “make music in [their] hearts to the Lord… with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Eph. 5:18-20).” 

Joyful songs of praise help us break free from sin!

Nyein* was despondent and self-critical, but his face lit up with joy as he recounted how God has watched over him. Once, when he was lost in the jungle, a lion actually guided him to the village, blocking the wrong paths and leading him in the right direction! 

Meeting Nyein reminded me that the antidote to self-doubt is to look away from our weaknesses and gaze upon the surpassing greatness and goodness of God (Phil. 4:13).

The joy of the Lord is crucial not only for our own sakes, but because joy strengthens us for service (Neh. 8:10) and allows us to better reflect the heart of God to others. 

If you haven’t thought about this in a while, I encourage you to reread what the apostles taught on the subject. They faced incredible challenges and hardships, but never lost sight of the amazing privilege of serving God. 

Even after speaking about trials, Peter writes, “you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Pet. 1:8). Paul yearns for us to know “the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:19). 

In their epistles, the apostles repeatedly urge us to cultivate peace and joy in our own lives, and they tell us how:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” ~ Philippians 4:4-9

As Easter approaches, now is a good time for us to remember that Jesus not only died for our sins, but rose again so that we could have new lives (Rom. 6:4), animated by the Spirit and growing in love, joy, and peace (Gal. 5:22). 

Surely this doesn’t exempt us from troubles, but we do not lose heart, for inwardly we are renewed (2 Cor. 4:16).

Have a joyous Easter!

Tim M., President

*Names changed for security.

Categories
Stories

On the banks of the Irrawaddy: Lydia’s Story

On the banks of the Irrawaddy, a 24-year old woman looks out on the river she’s grown up on. 

This is the river she worked on with her parents, carrying goods across the water by boat, after stopping her schooling at age seven with only basic reading and writing skills. Lydia* grew up a Burmese Buddhist in Myanmar (Burma), where Buddhism is the majority religion and Burmese is the majority ethnicity. 

But because of where she was born – the slums on the river – Lydia and her whole community are heavily discriminated against in their city.

While in Myanmar in January, I had the absolute privilege of spending time with Lydia, listening to her heart, enjoying her tea and hospitality, laughing and praying together, and hearing her story of how she met and was changed by Jesus.

Three years ago, while traveling out of his state to encourage local pastors in the area, one of our Myanmar ministry leaders went to share the Gospel in a slum he had recently heard of. Pastor Paul*, a natural evangelist, went from hut to hut to ask if people needed prayer, and explaining the Gospel if they were willing to listen. The Holy Spirit drew him to Lydia and he simply shared the Gospel with her. 

She had heard about Jesus before from a friend who had recently become interested in Christianity. But until she met Pastor Paul, Lydia never felt confident enough to ask questions. He listened well, he was kind, and he understood her fear of how her Buddhist family and community would treat her if she believed. 

As Paul left, he challenged her to try praying to Jesus directly: telling Him what she wanted, asking Him her questions. 

Three months later, they met again. 

In that time, she had taken Paul up on his challenge – Lydia had seen Jesus work in her life and answer her prayers, and had decided to follow Him – becoming the first follower of Jesus in her community. 

Three years later, Lydia has seen 16 adults in her community – both men and women – begin following Jesus, including her mother and grandmother. 

With laughter and the biggest smile, she showed me her mother’s container that had held their Buddha statue. After she accepted Christ, Lydia’s mother threw the statue into the Irrawaddy and now the container holds a printed Burmese Christmas hymn. A simple but bold statement.  

Pastor Paul, seeing leadership potential in Lydia, connected her with another local pastor, Maung*. This pastor and his wife began discipling Lydia. Now, with their help, she leads a Bible study for the 16 other believers. 

When first praying to Jesus, one of Lydia’s prayer requests was for a sewing machine and tailoring classes. Through a relative, she was able to get the machine and the training, and she is now working as a seamstress out of her lean-to on the river. Together with other women – both Buddhist and Christian – she has plans to help women gain trade skills or start businesses.

Lydia is uniquely gifted to lead and encourage this community. 

As I sat outside Lydia’s home, I met with several of the people who had come to faith through Lydia’s testimony. She is clearly a natural leader, with both women and men, Christians and Buddhists respecting her opinions and thoughts. I saw a combination of strength, humor, compassion, joy, responsibility, and wisdom in this 24-year old woman. 

Tears filled her eyes, and mine, as she shared the challenges of this young church.

Many never learned to read and so cannot read the Bible for themselves. They work from dawn till dusk, seven days a week, making it difficult to meet regularly. Many are ostracized by their families for their new faith. It was a precious thing to hold hands and pray together over these needs, and to praise God for all He has done in this slum.

These are challenges that Lydia understands intimately, and so, along with Pastor Maung’s guidance and the Holy Spirit, we look forward to seeing this community grow. 

This is why Harvest Bridge exists – to come alongside believers like Pastor Paul and Maung and Lydia, and join them in reaching their communities for Christ. Thank you for partnering with us in this!

In Christ,

Kate Therese, Director of Mobilization 

*Names changed for safety 

Categories
Stories

Following His Example

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year…” ~ Charles Dickens 

This time last year, I was spending Christmas in Myanmar (Burma) at a children’s home with 18 children. Four were the children of the pastor and his wife who run the home, and 14 were there because they had been abandoned or their families were too poor to care for them. 

None of the children knew a word of English, so we danced and laughed for hours to Feliz Navidid playing on my phone, and they sang me their own Christmas carols. 

Those are some of the most precious memories I have – seeing these little ones who were so fully loved by the pastor, Paul*, and his wife Mariam*, who had taken them in. Pastor Paul also oversees much of Harvest Bridge’s ministry in Myanmar.

I visited three children’s homes in different regions of Myanmar. All three homes were started because local Christian couples saw the despair and pain that orphaned, abandoned, and impoverished children were living in, and they decided together that it didn’t matter that they were themselves very poor, or that they were already busy with other ministries. 

They would give whatever they could to care for these children, to love them like Jesus would, regardless of the complexity and sacrifice it would take.

In their poor communities, these couples had no one to rely on but the Lord in taking in children who not only had physical, educational, and spiritual needs, but also deep emotional scars from losing parents to war, or being abandoned, or being forced to grow up much too quickly.

God built on these acts of faith, and now there are dozens of children in these homes who have received education, food on their plates, spiritual discipleship, hope and opportunity for the future, and a family’s love.

The work of running these children’s homes continues to be messy, joyful, hard, and rewarding. And it’s all done by faith. As one of the pastors, who has 14 adopted children, said to me, 

“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!”

This love is reflective of the greatest act of sacrificial love: The Lord Himself entering our world as a humble child. 

Jesus not only came to save a world from sin and separation from God; His coming meant that He would know and share in human pain, temptation, and joy. 

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.”
~ Hebrews 4:15

His example of entering into a broken world is one that we are called to follow.

The willingness of the barefoot pastors we support to enter into the lives of the people around them is a direct result of what Jesus did for all of us. 

“We love because He first loved us.” ~1 John 4:19 

Because of His humble birth, sacrificial death, and miraculous resurrection, these men and women choose to care for the helpless when they have little themselves, to love their enemies when they’re persecuted, to share the Gospel when it’s unpopular.

I cannot imagine a better way to “honour Christmas in my heart” all year round than to follow their example in my own life, and to support them in their work!

You can come alongside these faithful men and women this Christmas season by giving below! 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Kate Therese, 

Director of Mobilization

*Names changed for security

Categories
Stories

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.

In Christ, 

Kate Therese, Director of Mobilization

*Names changed for security