Myanmar 2017: Part 4 – Reconciliation
Lighthouse Farm, Continued! I promised I’d tell you what happened next at the Lighthouse Farm, so here it is! We were blessed to witness some reconciliation from some of the village leaders around the farm. This is such a blessing that will ensure a long, fruitful future for ministry out of the farm.
We were blessed to witness some reconciliation from some of the village leaders around the farm.
A little bit of background: Ever since purchasing the Lighthouse Farm, it has been a real battle. Isaiah’s team has worked hard to build up the farm so that they can be a resource to the surrounding villages by providing agricultural training (as well as other practical things) and also share the love of God with their neighbours. This didn’t go over well with a strong minority voice who held a lot of power. Buddhist monks and some village leaders had threatened Isaiah and his team with violence. These relationships were tenuous at best for the last three years. It was bad. But God has been working all along in incredible ways!
Pastor Isaiah has become good friends with an elected regional leader who had come to Christ last year at the farm’s Christmas outreach. Ever since receiving Christ at that outreach, this leader has become a huge advocate for Isaiah and has protected the ministry from militant Buddhist monks in the area. Another mayor who was totally opposed to the Christian presence in the region was not re-elected and was replaced by a new mayor who has let his own community decide whether or not they want the Christians there. He actually put the matter out to his community in the form of a referendum. Guess what!? Only two people in his entire town opposed the work of the Christians at the lighthouse farm, everyone else was in unanimous support of Pastor Isaiah’s work (the only two opposed were the former mayor and the leading Buddhist monk).
There has been serious opposition to the ministry in this area for three whole years, but God has been working on providing an opportunity for peace. So a few days ago while we were still at the farm, mayors from 11 villages all came together for a meeting at the farm. What was the result of the meeting?! Good question!
The mayors all agreed to extend a formal and official hand of welcome to our ministry out of Lighthouse Farm. Let me repeat, these 11 villages are officially wanting to partner with the Sinclair-Peters and Isaiah’s work. But there is more. The head of the leaders of the Buddhist monastery was there so that he could express a formal apology, stating that he initially didn’t understand Isaiah’s heart but now knows that the Christians are here to help the communities. Isaiah accepted his apology. What an incredible story of reconciliation where God was at work to bring a tense, difficult, and broken relationship into a place of healing so that the gospel can be shared and that the Christian community can show Christ’s love through really tangible work that will really benefit everyone in these villages. We’ve been waiting for this moment for three whole years and it happened while we were all there watching! Incredible. If you thought that was good, you’ll love this next part. These same village leaders are all in support of Pastor Isaiah running a big Christmas party with games, food, and a gospel message (and all these villages want to contribute to putting it on by providing some of the food and organizing some of the games).
The next day, we were invited into a neighbouring village to run an eyeglass clinic. That village really rolled out the “red carpet” for us. You should have seen this lunch. It was an amazing feast as we sat with village leaders who used to be enemies but are now friends. Isaiah told me that whenever him and his team walked through that village in the past, no one would even acknowledge them but now they have embraced them with open arms and hearts. Hans helped to run the eye glass clinic, I shared a message about God’s love to the community, and Kevin prayed a blessing over the group. It was such an encouraging experience for all of us to see God at work in such a profound way. Thank you so much for praying for these relationships for the last three years and for praying for us while on this trip so far. God has really, truly answered those prayers, and now there is incredible opportunity to share the Christian faith and really help these communities in very practical and critical ways.
After all that, we got all of our stuff and hiked 2 hours (it felt like 40 years!) through rice fields and hills in a million degree weather. By the time we got back to the vans to drive back to Yangon, every one of us looked like we had fallen into a swimming pool with our clothes on because of how sweaty we were! Ironically, it is “cold” season here right now… We jumped in the vans, prayed over a youth hostel that the Sinclair-Peters oversee, had dinner with the governor of the region, and checked into our hotel by 3am in Yangon. But all that is another awesome story for some other time!
Andrew, Kevin, & Hans in Myanmar