In northern Myanmar, God is working with preschoolers to save the nation, says Pastor Nang Za Thawn. He is pastor of Evangelical Baptist Church in Tamu, Myanmar, a church that partners with the Evangelical Baptist Conference of Yangon, Myanmar. He sends the following story of how God is working in his nation.
I am delighted to tell you what the Lord is doing in and through our lives here in this needy land of Myanmar. I was brought up by godly parents. I came to faith in Jesus when I was 4 or 5 years of age. My mother dedicated me to the Lord since then. My parents sent me to Faith Baptist Bible College after my formal education in 1991. I did not realize until after the first semester that I was to live for the Lord. When the second semester began, I dedicated my life to serve the Lord. Upon my graduation in 1995, I was appointed to teach at my alma mater. I taught there for 10 years (1995–2004).
I am now pastoring Evangelical Baptist Church in Tamu, which is situated on the northwest border of Myanmar (Burma) and India and is very close to a little Indian town called Moreh. Tamu is one of the principal trade routes of Myanmar; its strategic situation makes it the mecca of trade between Myanmar and India. Being one of the busiest commercial cities of the country, the town derives its income from the transport of products from China, Thailand, Korea, and Taiwan to India and vice versa. Tamu is also the main route through which the heroin product of the Golden Triangle area is exported to the west.
Besides the residential populations, many traders come in and go out every day. Public immoralities are rampant among this population. All sorts of crimes can be seen in the town. Many children are orphaned, abandoned, and even unwanted by parents. Juvenile delinquency is a key problem in all families. Parents go off to make money, leaving the children behind. Drugs, alcohol, and HIV have killed many. For this reason we make our every effort to rescue the children who are at risk.
Our ministry is the result of both a vision and a need. Officially, Buddhism is no longer the state religion in our country, but the officials actively promote it. Theoretically, there is freedom of religion, but there is much discrimination against Christians. There have been many cases of enforced conversions to Buddhism and violence against rural Christians. There have been many imposed restrictions—on buildings, proselytizing, job opportunities, and importation of literature. There have been many cases of Christians being forced to build Buddhist temples and to renounce their faith.
The importance of ministry to children and young people cannot be overestimated. They are the potential church of tomorrow. My church began working with preschool kids in 1989. Parents go out to make money, and the kids are always left at home. God has honored our efforts, and some 1,400 kids have been under our training, and we are glad to see some have become great men and women of God. At the moment we are training 50 preschool kids at our daycare center. Three staffs work at our daycare center. This is the first step of our ministry to the vision we have been praying about.
The Lord led us to take care for at-risk children in 2003. We began working with orphans by rescuing four street children. The need is so great that within a decade the Lord has entrusted 42 orphans into our care. With three volunteers, my family and I live with these children. The oldest boy completed the BTh from Grace Baptist Theological Seminary and currently is a missionary to the unreached in our area. The oldest girl recently completed the BA course at the Kalay University, majoring in geography. We have five college students this year. Two boys are at Bible colleges. It is a joy for each of our church members to see them grow physically and to see them grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
We highly value early conversion. We hold evangelistic camps in the summer each year. It’s always a joy to see young people come to faith in Jesus. We also go to the unreached villages. The Lord has helped us plant three churches in three different unreached villages.
In this part of the world, parents can often do little for their children because adults are caught in a cycle of poverty, disease, illiteracy, and instability. Debt encourages slave or child labor, poverty, and social breakdown and prevents education. The importance of educating children cannot be overemphasized. Poverty-coated kids might be diamonds. That’s why we are polishing these gems. The Lord has entrusted some 250 poverty-coated kids under our program to be educated. We are glad that they are brought up in a Christian atmosphere. Ours is the only place where children are in a Christian environment; the rest are under a Buddhist influence. Sophia Academy was started on September 2, 2013, so we celebrating our fifth anniversary.
We make every possible effort to make known the salvation of Jesus in this needy land. The Lord has answered and honored our prayer. We would like to do more for the Lord. We would like to hear from you if you are interested to extend your hands to this land. Joining our hearts and hands together, we could do more for the Lord. We look forward to hearing from you.
1. The building of our daycare center on the church compound is very old. Pray that the Lord will provide us with a new building.
2. Pray that the Lord will help us run a missionary training school.
3. Pray that the Lord will provide us with more classrooms and with hostels for village kids on our campus and English-speaking teachers.