We were excited to go to H’skay village because a long time ago the people there were Tey Lah Kone Karen. Over the years the villagers there stopped worshipping the Tey Lah Kone traditional ways and their worship has become a mix of Animism and Buddhism.
After a great deal of walking around the village we found the first family who became Christian in H’skay village. The husband accepted Jesus Christ about five years ago and then faced an onslaught of difficulty because of it, even from within his family. But through God’s strength he has been a powerful witness in the village and in his own family. His wife accepted Jesus Christ and was baptized last year. Two more families in the village have also accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
After talking with this Christian family we went around the village inviting people to come to a concert put on by our Tey Lah Kone team members. Many of the villagers we spoke with said they would come, but unfortunately only a few did. However, that evening as the team shared their music and testimonies inside this small home, you could sense how those who came were interested in hearing the gospel.
After the testimonies and music, Saw Kuh Nah Paw took over leading the worship. He began to preach in a very traditional Karen Baptist way. Truth to be told I am not a fan of this type of worship when we are doing evangelism as it can feel a bit cold to me. I started to become frustrated and anxious hoping Saw Kuh Nah Paw’s speaking would come to a close. (Note: When Karen get going on a sermon it can sometimes last up to an hour.) So as Saw Kuh Han Paw shared longer and longer I became uneasy. Then I began to pray. I knew I had to let go of this frustration and pray for God to work on the hearts of the people there.
Another disruption came too. A middle aged man who was drunk came to the service and tried to get his older mother to give him money and to come home away from the service. She scolded him and said she wanted to hear what the Tey Lah Kone evangelists were saying.
As I watched all this happening I wondered how on earth in this boring sermon interrupted by a drunken villager are people going to be able to connect with God. I then began to pray asking God to use this time to work on their hearts. I also prayed for God to work on my own heart and to let go of this issue of me wanting to control what was happening, because I certainly could not. After Saw Kuh Nah Paw finished he then asked if I wanted to preach. I gave about a minute or two of encouragement to the people sharing with them that while we loved them, we knew God loved them a great deal more.
After the service was finished two older women came up to Saw Eh Kla Moo. One of these women was the mother of the drunk man who had interrupted the worship. These two women shared how they had witnessed what God was doing in the families of those who had accepted Jesus and shared how they were interested in Christianity. As Saw Eh Kla Moo translated I then asked, “Well do they want to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior right now?” They responded with an eager “Yes”! The Christians there also agreed and so Saw Eh Kla Moo guided them through a prayer to accept Jesus into their hearts. As they prayed the Christian families gathered around and prayed too. While I have helped to lead brothers and sisters to Jesus Christ in the past, I’ve always been amazed of how wonderful a gift it is to see people make this transition in their lives.
After the prayer, our group gathered together and shared more with these women who accepted Christ. The growing Christian community there told us how they believed many more in the village were interested but that there was no evangelist or pastor in their village. We talked about this in our group and I prayed asking for God to send the right person for this village. As I ended my prayer I looked up at Saw Hsi Htoo. He is Pwo Karen like the villagers here and he had shared throughout his trip about a desire to be an evangelist. I asked “Hsi Htoo, why don’t you come here to serve? You speak the language and have a heart for these people.” He responded how he didn’t feel he was ready but he would pray about it. I encouraged him and then prayed more for God to bring the right evangelist to this village.
The next day we started our walk home. Along the way we stopped and had a debrief about our trip. We all felt that the January-February time frame is the most ideal time to do evangelism trips in this area. The farmers have little work to do during this season and we are able to move through the jungle without having to deal with the rainy season. So we are now praying and talking about a larger and more organized trip next year, and expanding our outreach to other villages we have learned about. After our informal meeting we continued our walk home and after two days we broke up. We were all able to make it back to our own villages safely.
It has been just over a week since our team came home. I just yesterday went up to the refugee camp and many friends of ours talked with us about our trip. They had heard from others in the area what took place and they were all excited. I met with Hsi Htoo and he also shared with me that he, his wife and his 4 month old daughter would like to move to Hskay village and be evangelists there. In the next few months we will start talking with the church leaders of this area to organize the move. I want to ensure that we work together for the sake of God’s kingdom and that we are seen as builders not dividers. I ask for your prayers in this as we move ahead. There is a great deal to plan out and discuss. But praise God for sending workers into the harvest!
We are all excited about what is ahead in the next couple of months and next year. We praise God for you all too. You play such an important part in our efforts to serve. We know the success of this trip can be attributed to the many prayers of so many different people. Please continue to pray for our outreach into these villages this year as we want to continue to maintain the relationships we have built. Thank you so much and to God be the glory!