In December of 2011 GLBM’s Matt Mayer and I traveled with Pastor Thaung Lian to a remote village of the Mru people, a tribal group of old Burma near the Bangladesh border, a people that had never seen a foreigner and never heard of Jesus. It took us several days to get there. We traveled first from the city of Yangon (old Rangoon) by airplane, then renting a boat to take us up river to the historic Buddhist village of Mrauk U where we stayed overnight in mosquito nets because of pandemic malaria in the area.
By five o’clock the next morning, we were bouncing down a dusty road in the back of a Willys-type Chinese-made jeep with five others hanging on everywhere. Hours later we got out of the jeep, unfolded ourselves, and walked through a village where we were met by Buddhist chanters with battery-powered loudspeakers. Word had reached that particular village that we were arriving and they wanted to impress us, as well as put us on notice that they were unalterably committed to the way of the Pagoda.
On the opposite side of the village we hired a pilot and his long, slender canoe, powered by a lawnmower engine with a four-foot propeller shaft that could be lifted above underwater growth to propel us through shallow, murky, and snake-infested waters. For hours we traveled the river that was becoming increasingly narrow: herds of water buffalo on both sides of the river, “flying snakes” jumping and skimming the water at the breaking of the bow, single-strand bamboo foot bridges high above with only a thin rope to cling on to, natives smiling and waving as we passed by, long slithering marks in the shining mud that lined the bank – proof of the presence of those creatures we didn’t want to meet: We would never forget this trip, ever!
Finally reaching our destination in the heat of the day, we carefully climbed out of the canoe, maneuvering the slimy bank, and instantly stood before a welcoming party including the village chief, a mob of curious children and teenagers brightly dressed in their best ceremonials. It was a small village of farmers and herdsmen. There was no electric or running water but an obvious organization to their society.
The chief was the first to believe in Christ and receive Him as Saviour. He said, “I want all my people to become Christian!” We climbed into a large, one-room bamboo hut on stilts, built to be a school. I held up my Bible and said, “There is an Eternal Deity. His name is “Pya Thakin” and this is how He has revealed Himself to us. We have come to tell you about Him.” We explained for hours about the Creator, Creation, Mankind, God’s Law, Sin (disobedience of God’s law) and its consequences, the payment for sin demanded in the Old Testament, and the sacrifice paid in the New Testament. Adults and children alike sat on bamboo mats, listening to every word. Many were gloriously saved, placing all their faith in Jesus Christ and turning to Him from spirits and idols. We would plant a new church and somehow provide them with the Word of God.
The children gathered around me and Matt. They were remarkably trusting and we tried our best to demonstrate “the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39) One young boy sat on my lap and I remember when he turned and coughed in my face, spraying me with his saliva. I believe that is the moment in time that would cause me henceforth to test positive for tuberculosis. I am not sick and never have been. My TB is latent and will remain that way because of medicine. But I have seen a young girl with a hole in her chest so large that you could insert your hand and look inside her like a hollow tree. I have heard her cry for help and screams of pain.
We could save many of these children with your help, not only physically and medically, but spiritually. We could give them life-changing medicines for their body and the eternity-changing prescription for their soul. But time is running out for so many! Won’t you help them today? Please give something to GLBM now.