Here are three videos from the February 2020 Myanmar mission trip:
As I write this, I’m sitting on a flight coming home to Christchurch from Yangon. This report will cover the last three days of outreach for the NZ team (the AU team had an extra morning of outreach).
On Monday, my team was at Inya Lake. As I reflect back on this day, the highlight was the very last conversation of the day. My translator had to leave a little early, so for the last thirty minutes of the outreach I tried to find people that spoke English to talk with.
A young couple responded positively to my question: “do you speak English?”. They were both university students and were studying languages. She: English, He: Russian - but he knew enough English to follow along with the conversation, and she translated when required.
It was a long conversation, and so the outreach finished late, but it was so worth it. We worked through the logic of the mini flip chart, and the gospel message it explained. They were deeply challenged, and asked wonderful questions. They understood that salvation is a gift, but there is a great cost (in this life) in accepting it.
When the conversation finally ended, I could tell the guy was still counting that cost, but I was delightfully surprised to see the girl say she wanted to trust in Christ! I gave them gospels of John, and a tract each, and I asked her if she was serious to please get in touch via the contact number on it. I leave them in God’s hands.
Tuesday saw my team at the Dagon Center. My translator and I had some good conversations throughout the day, but there were a few translation issues which made many of the conversations difficult. But this was not a bad thing, it just became an opportunity for the translator and I to work through these issues. We spent some time working through relevant Bible verses; we learned from each other.
After this, we moved into a final conversation of the outreach. And it was a doozie! I ended up getting one of our other translators involved as well, and between the three of us, we were able to move through the mini flip chart, with a young man, smoothly. To my joy, the young man, even after counting the cost, expressed a desire to place his trust in the sacrifice of Jesus. He said, “Why would I turn down a gift like that?”. He also received a gospel of John and a tract, and was encouraged to get in touch. He is also in God’s hands.
Wednesday was the final day of outreach for me. I was torn, it is so wonderful being in Yangon talking to people about the gospel, but I so miss my family back home. Getting through the day felt like climbing the final mountain before breaking through to the valley on the other side… but we made it!
We were short by two translators, but this was not a problem, because the team members who didn’t have translators were able to have many conversations with English speakers at the university - they had a marvellous time.
The rest of us stayed at the Hledan Center. In spite of a man constantly blowing a whistle in his strange attempts to direct traffic, we were able to have many gospel conversations.
The highlight was a conversation I had to take over. There were two men involved. And they had both been through the flip chart but were very resistant in different ways. The first young man looked offended and didn’t say much. The second older man was doing nothing but talking!
I decided to get my translator to focus on the man that talked a lot, while I focused on the young man who was able to speak English. His issue was with evolution (he was a zoology major at the university). Science explained everything - so he said. I spend some time with him working through this, while trying to move the conversation to the gospel (more important!). Unfortunately, his friend turned up and needed to take the young man away - he didn’t want to leave, he wanted to work the discussion through, but he had to go.
I was now able to join my translator and work with the man that talked a lot. I managed to get this man to slow down a bit so that we could really start dialoguing. Usually when people talk alot, it means they are very resistant. But to my surprise, I was able to get the man to explain how a Buddhist gets to “heaven” (good deeds), and then explain why that is impossible to achieve. He stopped talking, and started listening (except to answer the questions I was asking him). I could tell he had been given information that he had to consider further. He gratefully received a tract and a gospel of John.
So that brings an end to the February 2020 mission to Myanmar. My reports have only been a glimpse of some of the many wonderful gospel conversations the team has had over the two weeks. All glory to God for any fruit. Thank you for praying for the team, and I hope you will be able to join a future mission with us.
On Saturday the whole team gathered at Mahabandula Park (what I’ve previously been calling Sule Park). Being the weekend, there were many people relaxing and keen to talk.
We also had a team from the New Life Church come to join us on outreach. For many this was their first time, so they did a lot of watching and listening.
It was a pleasure to have two of them join me and my translator - so we were a team of four. One of them told me that she had a burning desire to share her faith, but she was very nervous.
In the afternoon, I had two wonderful gospel conversations, and I wondered if the newbies would like to give it a try - so I asked. To my surprise, the lady who had said she was nervous was willing to give it a try. I double checked, to make sure I wasn’t applying any pressure - and she confirmed she was ready. But I could see that she was very nervous.
I picked an older lady to approach, and I decided to get things started. She did not want to have a conversation (but soon after, she came to take a few tracts from me), and so we moved to a couple that was next to her - they were happy to talk. I got the conversation rolling by going through the building/universe analogy, and then I passed over to my nervous friend to take them through the law. She took to it like a duck to water. I couldn’t believe it (see the photo with my bemused look in the background)! My translator & I stayed to help her when needed. But she shared the law and the gospel using the mini flip chart herself. Well done!
There was no stopping them after that, both of the newbies had an animated gospel conversation with another couple. They were eagerly taking them through the pages of the flip chart and explaining the glorious gospel of Jesus!
This is what evangelism is all about! Encouraging and equipping Christians to step out and share the words of eternal life. Reader, if you are not already involved, may you be encouraged too. Step out - get involved! Share the gospel of Jesus. :)
As per the photos, the day was filled with many, many gospel conversations.
On Sunday, the team split up and went to various churches or orphanages to teach. We then gathered for lunch at the orphanage that David Ling runs, and we ran another kids program in the afternoon where, of course, the gospel was shared (not for the first time!).
The wonderful photos say it all. Thanks to Matt and Grace for taking them.
I think this has been the busiest trip to Myanmar I’ve had. There is just so much opportunity for ministry, both in sharing the gospel with the lost, but also in sharing mutual love with the local Christians we are working with & the many orphans they support.
It is now Monday night, and I haven’t reported anything since last Wednesday. So over the next three evenings (the next three battle logs, including this one), I’m going to try to report on everything that’s been happening since Thursday on.
Thursday saw my team at a shopping center (Hledan) in the morning, and then at a university in the afternoon.
At the shopping center, the stand out conversation was with two young men. It actually started with one of them, but the other guy overheard what we were talking about, and he shuffled over and asked if he could join in. Of course! :) The first guy heard the gospel but ended up having to go, but I was able to have a deep conversation with the guy that shuffled into the conversation.
He said he didn’t have any religion. This did not mean that he was an Atheist, but that he wanted to learn about religion. If my memory serves me correctly, he came to understand the free gift of the gospel, but also understood the cost. He said he needed time to think about it - which is fair, but without applying any pressure, I did warn him that we do not know when we will die - there is an urgency to respond to the gospel!
The University is a great place for talking to English speakers! We have a favourite spot in front of Judson Church.
But my first gospel conversation of the afternoon started outside the library. There were about eight students dressed up in suits - they had just graduated (petroleum engineering). After learning that I wanted to talk about spiritual things, they invited me to the canteen where we could talk over a late lunch (for them). Two of them in particular did all the talking. Sadly, I did not get to share the gospel with them - the one that did most of the talking quickly understood the logic of what I was sharing, but became very resistant (although he was outwardly friendly and polite). But they all listened, and they all received tracts.
The team had many other wonderful gospel conversations throughout the afternoon.
Friday was a day off for the team in the morning and early afternoon before heading to an orphanage in the late afternoon to run a children's program.
But Andy & I didn’t go with the rest of the team. We ended up visiting the orphanage of one of our wonderful translators, Joshua. He and his wife are looking after 19 beautiful children. We first met Joshua last September. We hope to be able to practically help more. It is impossible to work with these precious people in the gospel and not want to get more closely involved in their lives. God loves the widow and the orphan! I intend to write more about this (in other channels).
On Tuesday the team split into smaller teams and spread out across Yangon to share the gospel, in conjunction with our local Christian translators. My team was at Sule Park. Unfortunately the park was closed as preparations were occurring for an event the following day. This didn’t hinder us, as there were many people on the streets for us to talk with.
I had lots of gospel conversations with people, with the help of my wonderful translator: Joshua. Some of them didn’t go well, some of them did. But something that I noticed was that other people would stop and listen to the words of life from a distance. At one point, as I was sharing with two young men on the sidewalk, a taxi pulled up beside us, and started listening. He interrupted to tell me, in broken English, that he was a Christian. I smiled and acknowledged him, but kept my attention on the two I was talking to. A few minutes later, he hopped out of his car, came up to me and gave me a cross - he said it was a gift for me. I was a bit confused, but I thanked him. He smiled, hopped back into his car and drove off.
The two guys I was talking to were actually part of the highlight conversation of the day. It was just after lunch, and the conversation went for nearly an hour. They said they were Christians, and so I asked them to tell me what I needed to do to go to heaven. They didn’t seem to know. So I asked if I could explain what I would tell someone if they wanted to know how to go to heaven. They were happy for me to do that, and so I took them through the mini flip chart and clearly explained the gospel to them. It seemed like it was the first time they had truly put the whole message together. They seemed very challenged and gladly received follow up tracts.
Today (Wednesday) the whole team was at Inya Lake sharing the gospel with many.
Again, the highlight conversation for me was just after lunch. A group of six people were happy to talk with me about the deep questions of life. They were very engaged, asking some difficult questions. But some of them seemed very challenged - understanding the logic of the free gift of forgiveness through faith in Jesus, and yet understanding the cost of accepting that gift, including letting go of Buddhism. After a long conversation, they all took copies of the gospel of John.
The local Christians we are working with are wonderful! It is an absolute privilege to be able to labour, in the gospel, alongside them.
Thank you for your prayers for this mission.
Oh, PS, this is encouraging. Andy’s translator from Tuesday had a very encouraging testimony. The last time the team was in Myanmar was last September. One of the conversations from that trip resulted in a Muslim girl being receptive and appreciative of hearing the gospel. She came to church and was impacted by the love and witness of those that believe in the gospel. She worked through the cost and put her faith in Jesus shortly after - even in light of her family not being supportive. About a month ago she was baptised, and is giving true evidence of the grace of God in her life, in spite of her struggles. How encouraging is that! All glory to God!
The September 2019 mission to Myanmar is complete! I am writing this while waiting to board my flight home (and completed it after I arrived safely back to NZ).
The Aussie team had a half day of outreach on Thursday, before heading to the airport. And the NZ team had a full day of outreach on Thursday, then a half day on Friday, before heading to the airport!
The NZ team were at a shopping center & Judson University - Thursday, and Kan Thar Yar Park on Friday.
But I’m reflecting on the whole mission. What a whirlwind of tiring activity - but oh so worth it! A team of 26: 20 from Aussie, 6 from NZ. 6 hours a day of outreach, mainly with a focus on conversations rather tract distribution. An equal number of local Christian translators were involved.
Here are some stats of how many conversations were had: One member of the team had 56 conversations over the mission. If we be conservative, and round that down to 50 per team member: that would be 1300 people reached with Gospel conversations over the period of the mission!
And yet, there are millions of people in Yangon and beyond who are yet to be reached with the Gospel in our generation! Be encouraged to be a herald of the amazing good news of Jesus - where you are today, but also - are you able to join a future mission?
Reflecting now on some of the conversations from those last few days, here are some highlights:
On Thursday, at Judson University, Andy was able to share with a Botany lecturer. And separately, I had an opportunity to talk with a Zoology lecturer!
Also, outside the university library, my translator got into a long conversation with a local while I was trying to get a conversation started with two mathematics students in English - which didn’t work out. But while I was waiting for him, I managed to get into a wonderful conversation with another three students via English. Their faces went from very friendly to very serious as they understood the nature of sin and the exclusivity of the Gospel of Jesus.
On Friday morning at Kan Thar Yar Park the harvest was very ripe! My first conversation started by someone approaching me rather than the other way around! He spoke good English, and so I didn’t require a translator. The Gospel was clearly explained, and his questions showed that he was understanding it - and yet rejecting it (at this time, anyway). I had other conversations like this through the morning.
But one conversation ended with a young man understanding the Gospel and stating that he wanted to trust in Christ for the forgiveness of his sin - even after he had considered and counted the cost of doing so. He is pictured exchanging contact details with my translator.
We praise God for all the opportunities we had to share of His love in Yangon, Myanmar. We pray for the many Christians we worked with over the two weeks. We leave the results in God’s hands: that many disciples would be made for his glory!
Funnily enough, one of the best conversations I had was on my final flight home: from Auckland to Christchurch. God had sovereignly saw fit to sit me next to an older lady who was a Christian, and a warm conversation started very naturally. We were able to talk about many important theological issues that we disagree on, and yet I was able to encourage her in the area of evangelism. Before getting on the flight, her brother gave her some money. She declined it, saying she didn’t need it - but he insisted she take it for someone who did. And during our conversation she knew exactly who needed the money. She gave it to me, and said that it was to be used for Bibles in Myanmar. This was incredibly encouraging for me! I will make sure the money is used for this very purpose. As she lives in Christchurch, I hope I see this lady again.
Till the nets are full, or the next mission starts...
On Monday morning, the team took a much needed rest before splitting into two teams to meet practical and spiritual needs in the slums in the afternoon. Jason is pictured presenting the Gospel with translation by David Ling.
On Tuesday we moved back to our six hour a day routine in our smaller teams to spread out across Yangon to share the Gospel. My team was at Yangon University.
We were short a few translators, so I was in search of someone who could speak English that I could share with. Sure enough, God brought along David. He was an atheist - which is unusual for Myanmar, so I started by explaining how he knew God exists (see Romans 1:19-20) and then moved into a presentation of the law. When I made it to the seventh commandment: adultery, I asked him if he had lusted for a woman - he said no. So I asked him if he had lusted for a man - he said yes. So he was homosexual. But I didn’t bat an eyelid and continued with the discussion. I was able to share the Gospel - which he was resistant to. I then spent time answering some very good questions that he had. We parted ways on good terms, shaking hands.
Soon after, a translator was able to join me, and we headed off the the university library, where we were able to have some good Gospel chats in the garden outside.
At lunch time, we headed back to Judson church to meet with the rest of the team, when I had some interesting news from Col. He said that he had been talking with his translator about where to find a place to buy water when David turned up with a pack of six bottles of water for the whole team! I’ve got no way of knowing what his motivation was for doing that - but it was very appreciated. May he come to know Christ.
After lunch, the conversation that stands out was with a teen girl who understood the law and the Gospel, and expressed a desire to trust in Christ. I explained the cost that would be involved with doing that, including the fact that she would have to let go of Buddhism. She instantly said she wanted both! I continued to explain, and it was clear she was understanding me - her eyes became very distant as she contemplated the paradox that the gift would cost her everything!
Today (Wednesday), my team was at the Dagon Centre. I had a good run of Gospel conversations with people in the morning, but sadly most of them were resistant to the Gospel (at this stage anyway). The last one was very good in that the couple I was talking to, via my translator Joshua, became very engaged (they initially granted me 5 minutes to share, but the conversation ended up going well into lunch time) and asked some very good questions that I was able to address.
The afternoon was very hot, and the team headed to a nearby amusement park for outreach.
Only half a day of outreach for the Aussie team to go, and a day and a half for the NZ team. Please continue to keep us in your prayers! Much appreciated.
Saturday saw my team at Sule park again. I found a spot with busy foot traffic and started to distribute tracts with the intention of starting as many Gospel conversations as I could with English speakers, as I didn’t have a translator. My technique worked a treat, and I was quickly in a conversation with a Muslim girl who was on her way to watch a movie and so had the time to talk. I then had a conversation with another Muslim - this time a man from Egypt.
Soon after that conversation had finished, a translator was able to join me in tract distribution, and we were soon into a long Gospel conversation where most of the time was spent in getting the man to realise that salvation was by faith alone, and not by works. I really took the time to labour with this man, constantly asking checking questions and tracking back to re-explain. It was so wonderful to watch understanding of the Gospel come to him. In the end, he had to leave, but he was very interested in talking further, and so took the contact details of the translator (pictured).
My last conversation of the morning was more pastoral in nature. It was with a young man who had grown up in a Christian home, but who hadn’t really been able to fully think through everything for himself. I clearly explained the Gospel to him, and then answered the many questions that he had. I pointed him to his Bible and the local church to continue to wrestle with his very important questions.
The afternoon started with a wonderful conversation with a lovely lady who seemed genuinely encouraged and challenged by the Gospel. I then moved into a conversation with four young men who quickly bailed from the conversation after understanding the serious nature of sin via the law - they didn’t stay to hear the good news. But an elderly man had been listening and so engaged me in conversation via a translator. He was extremely resistant to the simple message I was giving. Suddenly, he switched from Burmese into English and was trying to distract himself by saying it was “complicated”. I wouldn’t let him do it, showing him that the Gospel was clear and simple and he was simply looking for excuses to deny it. May he submit to the lordship of Christ.
Sunday saw the team spread out to various local churches for fellowship. Some of the team had the privilege of preaching. And in the afternoon, we ran kids programs at two orphanages, where we were able to preach the Gospel, sing songs, play games, and bless them with gifts!
The last three days of outreach in Yangon, Myanmar (Burma) have been a bit of a blurr! Six hours a day of outreach: three hours in the morning, an hour for lunch, and then another three hours in the afternoon. We break into smaller teams and go to various locations in Yangon, and we pair up with local Christians for translation and mutual encouragement.
My team was at a shopping center on Wednesday. A lot of rain that day, but there was shelter under an overpass (pictured) where we could talk to lots of people about the Gospel. On Thursday we were at Sule park - with rain in the afternoon. And on Friday we were at a different shopping center (pictured) in the morning, and then at the university in the afternoon - no rain till after the outreach finished that day! :)
I am learning a lot on this mission - from all my teammates, and also the local Christians we are working with. I am grateful to God for that and for them!
For me, I’ve had many difficult Gospel conversations. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing! I’ve had people seem to come under conviction of sin, and break the conversation before I can share the good news of Jesus :( I’ve had a lot of people become argumentative and resistant to the Gospel. But, all glory to God, there have been conversations with people who were receptive to the message of grace (2 x pictured)!
The most exciting conversation I had was with a Buddhist monk (pictured). I was surprised he bothered to stop to talk to me, and so I launched into a Gospel presentation quite quickly (starting with the law). He quickly started throwing up smoke screens and trying to led me down rabbit trails. I refused to allow it to happen, and with my wonderful translators help, persisted to share the law and the Gospel (praise God that I got through it). I then tracked back and started to address his questions. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I just gave simple answers to each one. E.g., he asked, “why does the Bible have an old testament and a new testament?” (I think he was suggesting that they contradict?) - I simply replied with, “because God wanted to do it that way.” Eventually, he invited me to come with him to talk more. No problem with me! He said he wanted me to meet one of his higher ups. He led my translator and I to the Pagoda and invited us in. I was praying, not knowing what to expect - but I was confident God was with us! We had to pay to get in, which we refused - so the monk said he would get his friend and met us outside. I refused to let the delay stop me from sharing the Gospel, so my translator and I started to distribute tracts (from a respectful distance from the Pagoda). The two monks soon came, and we head to the park to sit down and talk. The original monk was keen, but the new monk wasn’t willing to engage. I tried to goad him a little bit by saying: “I’m a simple man, are you afraid to talk with me?”. But it didn’t work and the left. I praise God for this opportunity. The original monk had accepted a Gospel booklet (that goes in depth). As always, I leave him in God’s hands. The Gospel is the power of God to salvation!
Please continue to pray for mission, we desperately need His power!
Hear Andy and Thomas share about encouraging conversations they had with men in Myanmar during the recent mission trip.