"He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God." - 2 Corinthians 9:10-11
The conflict in Myanmar, largely referred to as the world's longest "hidden" civil war, has been ongoing for nearly 60 years (CNN). Hundreds of thousands, some estimate even millions, of people have been forced to flee their homes due to the violence against civilians committed by over 15 separate insurgent groups fighting one another throughout the country. Many of the groups have strong ancestral ties to ancient familial tribes, which in this case causes even deeper-rooted fragmentation and division.
Leaving behind the majority of their possessions, these families flee for their lives to the border of Myanmar and Thailand, where thousands of refugee and IDP camps have been formed. Some camps are dotted with foreign aid tents, while others take refuge in city dumps to make use of the trash and recyclables as shelter-material.
"Many of these displaced families have nothing to go back to because their villages were destroyed. They are also hesitant to return for fear of retribution and land-mines," reported our mission partner in Myanmar.
There are few things as hopeless as these families' situation. The hardships they face while seeking refuge such as lack of safe shelter, lack of clean water, and lack of food, are almost as dangerous as the very violence they are running from.
However, in the midst of all this darkness and hardship, there is hope.
IDES partners in Myanmar have been reaching out and ministering to these refugee/IDP settlements over the past year. Using funds granted by IDES, our partner mission has provided many basic necessities including rice and grains, cooking oil, cooking utensils, clothing, blankets, solar-lamps, and sleeping mats. Some families were also provided with some basic farming tools in order to help them develop and cultivate their own sustainable food sources.
Many of those who are being served identify as animists or ancestor-worshipers. In other words, their spiritual life is founded upon rituals which honor certain animal spirits, or the spirits of their dead relatives.
By meeting the physical needs of our brothers and sisters seeking refuge, a seed is planted in their hearts for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Every single item given through our partners is accompanied with a clear sharing of the good news. As our partners continue to visit with the families, the seed is further sown into their souls by building long-term relationships with them.
"Local evangelists were able to develop trust and opportunities for sharing with families the Gospel and also the reasons for others around the world, which had a desire to help them during these difficult times," our partner said.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 9 that, "He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God."
Friends, these verses are written to us. You, IDES, and our mission partners around the world can work together in full confidence of this promise that God has made. If we are willing to sow the seeds, God will indeed provide more seeds, more opportunities to sow, and more resources to be generous with. The thanksgiving produced by our work brings immense glory and satisfaction to our gracious and deserving God.
“The refugees are so thankful to them for the donation and that in their lives, they have never experienced receiving such help and kindness. Some of the villagers who were hostile to the evangelists became the hosts of the evangelists now, and they started listening to the Gospel," our partner said. "So, from then on, the evangelists go to share the Gospel with them from time to time. The refugees were really touched by the love of Christ through the donation and we hope sooner or later, they will be converted. Please keep praying for them. Thank you very much. May God bless you."
Let's get to planting.
Watson, Ivan, Javed Iqbal, and Manny Maung. "The Decades-long Civil War You've Never Heard of." CNN. Cable News Network, 11 Nov. 2015.
Web. 23 Feb. 2016. <http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/11/asia/myanmar-shan-rebels-civil-war/>.