On my first trip to Myanmar in February of 2009, I traveled with Pastor Htein Win Ei on the Pyay Road, northward from the city of Yangon to the village of Aunglan in the Magwe Division, along the famed and mystical Irrawaddy River. We traveled in a 1970 Toyota Corolla with natural air-conditioning under your feet where you could see the road underneath. Dodging ox carts in the darkness and occasionally stopping at roadside markets where both adults and young children were pandering their goods, I was presented with flowers to offer to Buddhist spirits or trays of “Fried Sparrow” which was not bird but bat. We traveled all day and night through three government tolls and a half-dozen roadside “family tolls.”
Arriving at 4:30 in the morning, I was led from the main road in the village, through a ravine, to a compound of rough-cut wooden structures with dirt but clean-swept floors and a large bamboo pavilion which was used for both church and school. Very soon the pavilion was filled with both adults and children who wanted to hear everything I would say, even if they didn’t understand. I had come to see a ministry of faith that was making a great difference in the lives of many people, a ministry that I had already begun to help financially. I had come to preach the Gospel of my Lord Jesus Christ as He had commanded me to do, not only at home but to the uttermost parts of the earth (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15).
I had seen photos of the children in the school and orphanage and they had captured my heart long before coming face to face with them. Now we held a church service: they sung and I preached the Word of God. I wept. I had fallen deeply in love with a people I barely knew because God was filling my heart with them. Between meetings a young boy came with an old guitar and sat next to me. Very beautifully, in a way I will never forget, he strummed out the tune of the song “Amazing Grace.” I motioned for him to give to me the guitar and I played and sang another song. I handed the guitar back to him and said, “Your turn!” He played “Amazing Grace.” He handed the instrument again to me and I played and sang another song. I handed the guitar back to him and he played “Amazing Grace.” And so it went on time after time. He smiled at me and I wept for joy.
Months after returning to America I received an e-mail from Pastor Htein Win Ei. He said, “The boy with guitar will die.” I wrote back, “I will come!” Htein said, “There is no time.” I said, “I will send money.” He said, “He will die.” This young boy, who was beautiful from his outward smile to his spirit within, literally shook to death with fever and I, on the other side of the planet, sat curled-up on the floor in a corner weeping again.
I asked God “Why?” He did not immediately tell me. But I think that it was more for me than for the boy. I had to see the urgency of doing God’s work in the Golden Land. There is no time remaining. Will you help us minister to those with no family, no food, no school, no medicine, no church, no hope, and no Saviour? Any amount, whatever God puts in your heart to give, will help us to help them.