The Spring months and Fall months are very rainy in the impoverished country of Myanmar.
Each year during these months, the rains fall heavy and hard upon rural farming villages, damaging hundreds of families' homes and nearly destroying their crops. Although it may seem that the rains are easy to predict and prepare for, the resources available to these families are extremely limited. Most of them live in small, one-room houses with thatch-roofs and reed-woven walls--none of which hold up very well against heavy rainfall.
Myanmar is predominantly a Buddhist nation, but some rural families practice Animism and ancestor worship as well. We praise God that IDES has trustworthy local Christian partners in and around these villages that share the Gospel of Christ with these families, especially during their time of great physical need during the flood seasons. It is IDES' ultimate goal to fulfill the Great Commission. That being said, many of the families we serve would not be willing or able to hear the good news if their physical needs were not met first by Jesus-followers.
Think about it. If our roof just caved in and our primary source of food and income just got destroyed (again), how willing would we be to listen to someone talk to us about the love of God who isn't offering to help us rebuild? That is precisely why IDES strategically operates within crisis situations, meeting physical needs in order to establish trust, relationships, and legitimacy among the families being served, thus opening the door for the Gospel to be received with open hearts. Good news is much more easily received when preceded by benevolent and generous assistance.
This past Spring, we were blessed with the opportunity to work with one local Christian mission to help rebuild families' roofs and repair their homes following the flooding.
"Our volunteers worked very hard for collecting thatches in several villages both from India and Myanmar. We hired a truck for transportation for several times from the villages," our partner reported. "Our volunteers and the village leaders made the decision together--The thatches were distributed to (the neediest) 18 families; depending on the size of the roof destroyed by the storm. They are very happy for getting thatches and have repaired their houses. There is a Burmese Christian Missionary family in this village. He is one of our volunteers in our relief works. Our works help him more in a relationship with the Buddhist families. He and his family will continue evangelism in this village."
In the Fall, the rain and floods hit another portion of the country where many rice farmers and fisherman make their living. As the waters rose, the rice patties were washed away by mud and large schools of fish suffocated. The farmers' and fishermens' families were forced to leave their damaged homes to find safety until the waters receded. This displacement left these families in need of the most basic necessities like food and water, with little hope of help from government agencies or other relief organizations due to their extremely rural location. But, where there is suffering, Jesus' followers are there and willing to help. Thanks to your generosity, IDES was able to fund a major food distribution for these families, allowing on of our Burmese partners the chance to also share the Gospel with them.
"When we went and helped, they told us that the amount of rice , oil and beans that we shared with them was the biggest amount they had received," our partner said. "They got a few donors before but the amount they received was very small. Before we shared the food, we shared the Reason why we came and helped and shared the Gospel and prayed for them. We saw some tears in some people’s faces. And we shared the [Scripture] tracts written in their language."
In all the villages our partners travelled to with the relief food, 786 families were served altogether.
One of our partners had the chance to interview the head of one of the villages following the distribution and sharing of the Gospel. "His name is Soe Thein, aged 65, and he told me that he has been as a village head for about 15 years. This is what he told us: 'The whole village was coved by flood for two months, and the whole rice farms were destroyed after two months rain covered. Some people are fishermen but the water got muddy by the flood and all fish were gone, and the fishermen can’t get any fish now. The school was closed about a month. But now it is open. We completely depend on the other people’s help. You Christians are very nice to us. Some Myanmar relief teams came and helped but not to our village because our village is very remote and hard to travel to. Many relief teams just go to the nearer villages, and do not want to go to the remote villages. But your team came to our village through muddy road, by boat, by motor cycles. You Christians are good hard workers.' .....All villagers who were the flood victims are so thankful to you and IDES for the donations. This project has helped them find relief from the suffering caused by the recent flood. Thank you very much. May God bless you."
These stories of help and hope would not be possible without you, our faithful supporters. The more we partner together in generous giving, the more suffering people will be able to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ as they are helped and served by IDES' mission partners all around the world.