I have a problem. I have too many good things to report, and I can’t fit everything into one newsletter. I have little choice but to focus only on the highlights of our December trip to Myanmar (Burma). Through our three divisions—Shepherd Serve, Orphan’s Tear, and I Was Hungry—Heaven’s Family is making a greater impact in Myanmar than any other country in which we serve. Please rejoice with me for the fruit we are bearing with your help in a Buddhist nation where believers often face harassment under the rule of a military government. We were watched quite closely by the police ourselves, and our conference organizers had to pay the usual small bribes to keep them at bay.
Strengthening the Church by Serving Her Shepherds
Sandwiched between India and China, Myanmar is a mosaic of ethnic groups and languages. The three hundred delegates who attended our leadership conference in Shan State spoke a combined total of twenty distinct languages—Chin, Mizo, Kachin, Karen, Laho, Shan, Tidim, Burmese, Lishu, English, Chinese, Falam, Wah, Hmong, Rawang, Palaung, Azi, Gorakhy, Lungvo and Maungsi. Thankfully, I needed only one interpreter during my three days of teaching on discipleship, as everyone understood Burmese. And thanks to you, we were able to give them all Burmese copies of The Great Gospel Deception as well as of Saving Faith. The Disciple-Making Minister has so far been printed in Myanmar in both the Chin and Mizo languages, and it is being distributed to Chin- and Mizo-speaking pastors. The Burmese translation will soon be underway.
Sharing Christ’s Love with His Little Followers
Seventeen other team members from America and New Zealand joined me on this trip, and they spent the majority of their time ministering to a total of 690 children who live in 26 orphanages. They played games with them and brought lots of clothing, candy, toys, hugs and smiles. Some children received the first toy they have ever owned. And at a very special Sunday service, our team literally washed the feet of the majority of the orphanage directors. Many tears were shed that morning as we honored true servants of Christ.
Hundreds of the children we visited are supported each month through Orphan’s Tear, but we took photos of several hundred more in Christian orphanages who are now waiting for monthly sponsors. Below are just a few of them, and you can see all of the orphans available for sponsorship online.
Perhaps the most heart-breaking (yet most inspiring) orphanage we visited was the Handicapped Care Center in Kalaymyo, where 27 children live who have been stricken with polio, a disease that has been eradicated from most of the world. They walk with the aid of crude crutches or crawl on their hands and knees. With tears in her eyes, the wife of the director of the Handicapped Care Center told us how much better the children’s lives have been since they’ve been sponsored through Orphan’s Tear. Among other things, she told us that she no longer needs to beg for rice from neighbors to feed them, and they eat chicken once a week. All of the children are full of joy in knowing Jesus. Wanting to serve their Lord, they crawled and hobbled to 800 houses in Kalaymyo in the past and won five people to the Lord. There are nine new children at the Handicapped Care Center this year whom we met and who are now waiting for sponsors. Four are pictured below.
I Was Hungry
Loving Jesus by Providing for His Family
I’m also pleased to tell you that we visited several orphanages that now have new dorms because of gifts we received some time ago. We also visited a few orphanages that were harvesting their first crop of rice on acreage that was also purchased through I Was Hungry—a gift that has helped them become more self-sufficient. Because of the generosity of friends, this year all 26 orphanages that our team members visited received special gifts ranging from one hundred to five hundred dollars for warm clothing or capital improvements like bathrooms and kitchens (very primitive by our standards). And this year we were able to purchase two houses for very needy orphanages, as well as eight acres of rice paddies and two oxen for plowing them for another growing orphanage in Kalaymyo.
If the Lord lays it on your heart, a number of other orphanages that we help are in real need of similar capital improvements. Five to ten thousand dollars can make a big difference in improving the living conditions of little followers of Christ. If you saw how they live it would probably break your heart. There is no way to describe it to North Americans—you have to see it for yourself. For those waiting (like me) for the blessing of being able to make such major contributions, an investment of only $45 each month in the Heaven’s Family Mutual Fund helps train pastors, feed and clothe orphans, and assist the very poor every month. Learn more about the Heaven’s Family Mutual Fund.
Finally, while we were in Myanmar sixty-five pastors received new bicycles that will help them take the gospel further, and many also received new reading glasses. Thanks to everyone who made all these gifts and ministries possible. To get a better idea what it is like to be an orphan in Myanmar, view a 10-minute video documentary produced by my son, Stephen, titled A Day in the Life of an Orphan. It even includes some of his original music. You can also view a slideshow of photos of our time in Myanmar taken by various team members.
As always, thanks for helping us reach out around the world. To God be the glory!