Youth Camp in Myitkyina

Asians For Christ understands the importance of Christian youth and youth ministry.  We believe that Christian youth is vital in carrying out Christian faith in their generation both in the present and future.  Without Christian youth, church will someday be empty and Christianity will no longer exist!  Since the ancient world, the local synagogue played a major role in shaping or educating their children.  The Jewish children at age of 4 or 5 would learn, read, write, and memorize the Torah.  Therefore, the churches need to invest in their members in the earlier stage of life.

The main purpose of our mission trip to Myanmar this past April was to conduct a youth camp at Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin state in Myanmar.  Nick, John, Caleb Hutchcraft and Drew Hanson, youth ministers from the USA, teamed up with local Christian leaders offering a Christian camp for the Christian youth.  Our goal is to help teens follow Christ with all of their hearts, shaping them with the Word of God so that they would look more like Jesus.  Our hope is to mobilize the young people who are committed to Christ, to make their lives and society a difference by sharing God’s Word and their spiritual experiences to their neighbors because they are well connected with the teens in Myanmar.   

As you may already have known that Buddhists in Myanmar celebrated their New Year on April 13-16.  During this New Year celebration, Thiangyan (it is called “Song Kran” in Thailand), tens of thousand of people would come out on the streets to pour water on each other as a sign of blessing from the god of rain (and it turns out to be a blessing from the Buddha).  The water symbolizes the washing away of the previous year's bad luck and sins.  The nights begin with music, songs and dances, merrymaking and general gaiety on the main streets of the city.

Rather than to have the Christian youth being indulged with this pagan mindset, many churches in the area of Myitkyina and Waimaw have offered church camps for children and youth to attend in order to have their children be deeply-rooted with God’s Word during this pagan festival.  Asians For Christ has started this type of ministry among Lisu churches in Thailand since the mid 1990s and now has joined with churches in the Northern Myanmar for this vital ministry.  We are also challenging churches in these areas for the need of youth ministers.
Myitkyina Youth Camp
Youth Camp- Class Time
Classroom extended outside
Youth Camp Staff/Leaders
Nick teaching
Drew teaching
 Here are some reflections from John and Caleb:

John: During April break, I finally had an opportunity to join my father and older brother, Nick, along with some friends from the U.S.A on a mission trip to Burma. It was really something I could never forget with all of its wonderful scenery, splendid times of worship, and the joy of seeing brothers and sisters in camp. Firstly I would like to point out that the culture is very different from most places that I’ve been accustomed to. There were always honks of motorbikes or cars trying to get through, and I hardly find any drivers stopping during a redlight. The camp was fantastic with all the songs that we sang, games that we hosted for youth to play, and testimonies each night. Not only did I pour out my knowledge upon them, but also received tremendous amounts of blessings from them as well. It was all planned out perfectly throughout the entire trip with many ups and downs, but I knew that God had been with us throughout the whole time teaching not only these teens and children, but also us as camp leaders! Praise God for an incredible event that I could take place in and pray that I may see these people again in the future…
John preaching at an evening devotion
Caleb: There are so many things that could be said of my time in South East Asia. I could delve into all of the different languages, the various bizarre foods, and unfamiliar customs which all became a part of our daily routine. Yet, one thing about our time in Thailand and Myanmar rises above everything else. Without question, it is the unchanging nature of our God.  “He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.” I am learning that He is the same regardless of where one finds Him. Native culture, levels of education, political systems, economic demographics, you name it; these are shadows which grow faint in the glorious light of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the months leading up to our trip I spent a good amount of time researching South East Asia, and Lisu culture (Don’t get me wrong, one should seek to better understand a land and a people who are foreign to you), and what I now see more clearly is that we are far less different than what we often think. We are all created in the image of a revealed God, and the more clearly we see Him the less our human differences stand between us. Outwardly, and culturally America and S.E. Asia are two different worlds, but if you lay bare the hearts of their people you will discover a familiar mold. All of us are prone to wander. Our flesh is ever inclined to run after created things, and turn away from the creator of those things. All people, everywhere, have an eternal soul yearning to be filled and satisfied. Therefore, in our inner most hearts we are all the same. This yearning deep within us is a Christ-shaped hole. Yet so often we attempt to fill this void with the temporal shapes of this world. This has been true since the fall of Adam. Because of this truth I am filled with joy to see so many faithful workers who are striving to restore people to Jesus. The greatest encouragement of the trip was seeing and working with faithful pastors like the Wongratanamajcha family. They truly embody the ministry of reconciliation. Their efforts are spent calling people to embrace and turn to Jesus. They are not bound by denominational or organizational priorities. They seek first the Kingdom of God and they call others to do the same. The faithful witness of this family, and the many other pastors who dedicate their lives to the Kingdom work there has truly touched my heart. I will continue to pray and be mindful of the work that is continuing each day. May God’s grace and peace be with you.  
Caleb teaching

Bible teaching staff

The team meeting one of the local political leader

The World needs Jesus Christ:

As Matthew 4:23 says “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people” (NRSV).  After the youth camp, Stephen continued his mission work in Myitkyina area, digging three wells; one for a Bible training center and two for very remote villages.  He and his team also visited churches in the area and met many TB and malaria patients who have been healed through the help of IDES.  It was a heartbreaking moment to meet 2 year old boy, Sar Lar Phu, who has be cured from TB.  Out of his three sibblings, Sar Lar Phu is the youngest son of Simon, a minister at Zekham Christian Church.  He was exposed with TB at the age of 18 months.  It is hard to imagine Sar Lar Phu’s life would be if the help didn’t reach to him in time.  With the continuing help of IDES for the year of 2015, Stephen suggested the whole family should get a check up.  

In the midst of poverty and suffering; however, it was an encouraging experience to see how the people in Myitkyina and Waimaw seeking God and were so eager to hear God’s Word.  Almost every village that Stephen and his team visited, the church bell rang at evening for a special service.  Particularly on every weekend, the team preached at four different churches.   Stephen challenged over a dozen of churches to participate in helping the people in need.  Above all, he called those churches (over 70 churches in Myitkyina and Waimaw that Stephen is affialiating with) to reach out to their neigbors, such as Bhama, Nepali, Shan, with the Gospel of Jesus’ redemption.

Stephen visiting church at the remote area of Malika
Typical house a the remote area of Malika
Downtown church: kids at play
Praying for the well digging site at the bible school in Myikyina
No drilling system means working by hand
Hard at work digging the well
Down the well
Normarya village
Stephen at Normarya village
Checking the pulley system of a well at Normarya
The water is still dirty at Normarya,
so more digging is required
Stephen with the 3 cured TB patient
(left to right: Ah Shwe - 58 yr, He Bo Yet - 7 yr, Sar Lar Phu - 2yr)

Much Works needs to be Done:

In the past, Myitkyina had been a closed-off city for foreigners for decades.  Recently, the government allowed foreigners to visit the city, enjoying its unexploited sites and fellowshiping with the ethinic variety of Kachin people, including Jinghpaw, Atsi, Maru, lachik, Rawang and Lisu.  Since then the native people of Myitkyina have been facing many new challenges in their daily lives.   There are many new rich people in the city. As usual, the rich people are getting richer and richer while the poor, the majority of the people, are getting poorer and poorer.  Due to the long period of conflict between the government and the insurgent, many have become displaced; many children have lost their parents in their early age and many women have lost their loved ones.  Various lethal diseases such as Malaria and Turberculosis have also claimed many lives.  It was a heartbreaking picture to see many women and children having to go through the changing society without hopes; no farm, no jobs, of course no child education for these left-behind wives and orphans. Moreover, drug problems have increased dramatically;  the drug addiction among youth has increased, even among the Christian youth.  The drug abuse among the university students has surged.  The University of Myitkyina is, the only one, welknown for drugs and narcotics inside the campus.  It is said that at almost every corner on campus you can find drugs and needles.  Moreover, at the border area between Myanmar and China, at the hillsides of Myitkyina and Waimaw is populated with poppy fields which produce opium.  Churches among Lisu in the area have tried tirelessly for several years to reach out to these people for Christ; however, it is still far from being a completed mission. Yet, there are churches that have been built in the area. Your prayers for this mission work would be much appreciated.

Prayer Needs:  

1.       Stephen’s quick evangelistic trip to Kaya state in Myanmar in the next couple days.  A group of Lisu non-believers from Kaya state has waited for Stephen for over a week.  There are over 40,000 non-believers of Lisu in Kaya state, east of Naypyidaw (the capital of Myanmar).  These Lisu people have lived there over century, but none have reached them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Pray that God will give Stephen strength to serve Him and preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ through His power.
2.       Isaac’s education: while many people are going to have school break, Isaac’s school for the year 2015-2016 is going to start on May 11.
3.       The families’ health.
4.       Youth in Myitkina and Waimow.