Visually impaired people have always preferred “hands on” professions, and in Asia, the tradition of the blind masseur is centuries old. Early writings reveal that the blind have been formally trained in massage in China, Japan and Korea since Medieval times. It is estimated that over 50,000 blind or visually impaired masseurs now earn a living in the Asia-Pacific region.
Khamh Lian Thang, a Heaven’s Family national missionary and Bible School Director in Taunggyi, Myanmar, knew of some unemployed visually-disabled Christians in his city. He approached them about starting their own massage business, explaining that, with a grant from Heaven’s Family’s Christians with Disabilities Fund, they could obtain the necessary training and purchase equipment they’d need to open shop.
Khamh’s friends agreed, so after putting together a sound business plan, they received twelve months of training and then purchased massage beds and other equipment. In June of last year, the Agape 3 Massage Center opened its doors.
The business did well from the start. Each massage therapist earns about $32 each day—ten times what an average day-laborer in Myanmar makes. The business supports five masseurs and two housekeepers who clean and cook. All of them are blind, and all of them are unashamed followers of Christ who love to share their faith.
Although the Agape 3 Massage Center welcomes walk-in clientele, the five therapists have found that most regular customers prefer house calls. This provides two blessings for the team: first, their clients are more willing to ask honest questions about Jesus while in the privacy of their own homes, and second, they can witness without fear, as proselytizing at a place of business is illegal.
Athough thrilled at the opportunities to share their faith, the blind masseurs also became painfully aware of their inability to confidently do so. They quickly turned again to Khamh, who consequently tasked two of his Bible School students to disciple them in evangelism in the evenings. They have since become much more confident at sharing their faith, and have so far led four of their clients to Jesus! It’s massage with a message!