Myanmar Part 5: Yangon
We had an incredible experience in Rakhine State and then at the Lighthouse Farm, but eventually our long road trip came to a close when we headed back to Yangon. Before I go on and tell you about our time in Yangon, I really do have to say that I was so, so impressed by the work of Dave and Louise Sinclair-Peters, Jeremy and Adrienne Penner, Pastor Isaiah and the rest of the national ministry team. I’ve heard many stories about this group of people for a long time now, but I was finally able to see them in action on their turf in Myanmar. These people are the real deal and I am so encouraged that Cedar Park has had a great relationship with this ministry for so long. God is doing some great things in and through these people and their ministry to Myanmar people. You’ll hear a lot more about that when we get back to Ladner, though!
These people are the real deal and I am so encouraged that Cedar Park has had a great relationship with this ministry for so long.
Alright, sorry! Back to Yangon! During those three days in the city, we had numerous meetings with various NGO’s and other groups as well as a little bit of time to see some sights. Walking around downtown Yangon was incredibly eye-opening. We saw beautiful, grand buildings, we saw old, decrepit colonial buildings, we saw slums with incredible challenges, and not too far from there hotels that cost up to $500 USD per night. It was a lot to take in all at once, but it was really eye-opening to see Myanmar’s largest city centre. While we did get to spend a few hours sightseeing, the rest of the time was mostly spent in meetings while in Yangon.
One of our hopes for our vision trip was to meet with other ministries, organizations, or businesses who were likeminded so as to evaluate the possibility of collaborating on special projects in the future to help the people of Myanmar. We packed a lot into just a few days! We met with an entrepreneur active in the rice drying market, Mennonite Economic Development Association (MEDA), Fedwell Foods, Stand as One Ministries, Proximity Design (an agricultural training/development company). We felt like we accomplished a great deal in these meetings and were able to get a cross-section of who is doing what to help the people of Myanmar and also where there might be opportunities for us to help to a greater degree in the future.
It really felt like time well spent. All of these meetings were noteworthy and worth their own blog post here, but I really want to share with you just one story from our experience with Stand as One Ministries because it really impacted our team. Through our connection with Dan Schat at Stand as One Ministries, we were introduced to Acha. She is an incredible woman of God. We followed her into the slums in and around Yangon for an afternoon that we won’t be able to forget. Throughout our trip, we saw a lot of rural poverty, but I’m not sure we were prepared for the extent of urban poverty that we encountered when following Acha. We were in an area of about 400,000 people who were living in shanty towns, tiny shacks all densely packed together where we were told that gangs often rule the streets come night time.
Acha’s ministry is primarily to young children, Sunday school age, and there are an overwhelming amount of kids in that demographic in these slums. There doesn’t seem to be much hope, joy, or vitality in these places, except when Acha comes around. When the truck stopped part way through the slum at a house, Acha would get out and bring a small snack, a prepared children’s Bible story, a short lesson about math or another school subject (since many of these kids don’t have the opportunity to go to school) and a few songs with her. Within minutes, dozens and dozens and dozens of kids came from all over and poured into the little shack of a house. It felt like these kids wait all week for the short time they get to spend at this ministry. Acha took us to 3 of the 9 areas that she ministers to and at each place, dozens of kids poured in to sing, learn, and pray. In the slum there are no Christians, except for these children who have felt the love of Jesus through Acha’s faithful witness and are learning to love to Lord through this ministry.
We won’t forget the experience of it getting late and dark in the slum while seeing dozens of children absolutely glued to Acha and us visitors, all praying, singing, and laughing together. It was a beautiful picture of a follower of Jesus, using whatever she had in her hands, to bring light and life to a place desperately in need of hope and love.
Andrew, Kevin, & Hans in Myanmar