The battle rages on and people are starving. This sentence is definitely true both spiritually and physically in Myanmar. Stephen has been in Myanmar for a little over a month and continues to work both the spiritual and physical needs of the people.
Physical starvation in Myanmar
As you may know in the northern parts of Myanmar called Kachin State, battle has been going on and off between the insurgents and the Myanmar army. While both sides are fighting, it has caused a lot of hardship for many people groups in the area, especially the Lisu people. The Lisu people group are considered to be the most peaceful people group in Myanmar and have received official recognition and certificate by the government for never going against the government. This in itself has its pros and cons. The pros is that the Lisu have more freedom under the Myanmar government than other groups and also are helped by the government, but the help is very small, for example the government offered one meal for the recent refugee coming into the city area and building a few huts for 500 displaced Lisu to stay in. After that, the government was no longer able to help. The cons is that since the government is technically “helping” the Lisu, many humanitarian organizations overlook the Lisu people and are focusing their efforts on other groups rather than the Lisu.
Through the help from IDES, Stephen was able to make a trip to western parts of Kachin State to an area called Danai in order to give 500 bags of rice to the very desperate Lisu people there. In Danai, almost 100,000 moved here many years ago in order to mine Amber (fossilized tree sap) for a living; in the recent months, they were prohibited from mining because of the battle. Many of these Lisu people are struggling to find a source of income. In the area, Stephen, through the help from IDES, was able to help the people who were most desperate and who are facing starvation with the 500 bags of rice. At first, the Myanmar government did not allow any food, especially rice, to go into the area of Danai because they feared that the rice will go to help the insurgents. After many meetings with the government officials, praise God, Stephen was allowed to take the bags of rice to help the Lisu people in Danai. This is a work of God because the government restricted everyone, but Stephen was the only person granted permission to go into the area. Praise God!
|500 bags of rice being packed and sent to Danai|
|Through the help from IDES, Stephen is able to help give the Lisu in Danai some rice|
|Stephen is joyful he can help the Lisu people|
At this moment, there seems to be a truce for a peace talk on the 3rd week of March, please pray for both sides to come to a peaceful agreement.
Spiritual starvation in Myanmar/Southern China
Deeper than physical hunger is the spiritual starvation for God’s Word. Stephen and his wife Mary traveled into Myanmar early February. Stephen and Mary traveled to Myanmar in order to encourage the refugees and also the church in the area. This trip to Myanmar was a first for Mary, and she enjoyed meeting up with the women in the area in order to encourage them. Mary was in northern Myanmar for about a week and came back to Thailand; she feels very blessed to be able to go and meet the women and even some of her relatives in Myanmar.
|Stephen and Mary spending time and encouraging the displaced Lisu|
Stephen continued to stay in Myanmar in order to help the displaced Lisu people and also to teach to the students at bible institutes and also leaders of churches in Kachin state, Myanmar. Stephen taught Revelation and James to 2 groups of students in the Jamaiti village. Stephen also taught a class on “Being a Man of God’s Household” through the book of Titus to a men’s group of about 70. The feedback from the students and leaders taking the classes was extremely positive; many are excited to learn the Word by learning the books in their original context and text (Greek). Many in the area still hunger for more.
|Stephen teaching Revelation and James to the students at Jamaiti|
|The cafeteria for the students, serving rice and vegetable soup|
In the bordering area of Myanmar and China, many Lisu on the Chinese side asked for Stephen to come teach the book of Revelation. Stephen felt extremely tired from teaching all day and night and from helping the physical hunger from the displaced people that he couldn’t make it to the Chinese side; Stephen sent a leader who came in January to Thailand to study Revelation with Stephen to the area. This leader, Ah Phu, went into the Chinese side and taught Revelation to the people and many people accepted the real teaching of Revelation. In the past, many Lisu have been taught by older missionaries that Revelation was full of predictions, but deeper studies shows that Revelation is a book written by John as a letter, prophetic (message from God), apocalyptic (showing behind the scene spiritual warfare). Many accepted and were encouraged to learn and are on fire, but there were complications because Ah Phu was detained by the Chinese soldiers because one of the Lisu present did not agree because he held on to the old missionary teachings rather than the real meaning of Revelation. After several days, Ah Phu was released and the Lisu that called the soldiers apologized and began to open his ears and understood the real message from what John wrote in Revelation. Praise God!
|Ah Phu, where purple patterned shirt, teaching in Chinese side of the Chinese-Myanmar border|
This month long trip has been a challenge for Stephen because he has had little rest and faced uncomfortable beds and travels but he feels so blessed that God is using him to reach the displaced and also to encourage and teach and strengthen the church in the area. Please continue to pray for Stephen as he is still in Myanmar.
|Stephen's bed; uncomfortable but Stephen says for the Lord, it's worth it.|
Isaac is on Thai summer break, finally. He is thinking about learning some kind of musical instrument. Mary is at home now; she feels extremely blessed to have traveled to Myanmar to visit the people. She has been moved to tears seeing how the Lisu people there live and how they love the Lord so much. Becky is doing well, she smiles every day and encourages everyone. Nick has been taking care of the secretarial work and taking care of Becky and Isaac when both Stephen and Mary were in Myanmar. Stephen is still in Myanmar and will come back sometime in the middle of March. John is busy studying the Word; every time we talk to him, he’s always reading or at the library.
We thank you so much for your partnering with us and your prayers. We are so blessed to be able to do ministry alongside you all. Please continue to pray for our family, missions, and especially for the displaced people in Myanmar and the situation there. We are praying that one day there will be peace and happiness, where there will be no more physical or spiritual hunger. We love you. Thank you for being a part of our missions.