June - Myanmar

June 2007

Myanmar is home to approximately 43 million people. They are primarily Buddhist peoples, though many engage in the worship of spirits called the “Gnats.” Myanmar is very close to my heart. A few years back I had the opportunity to travel in Myanmar and visit some sights, as well as teach English to some students. If you have ever to been to a country that is rich in poverty, then you probably have an idea of what Myanmar is like. I visited the capital city, Yangon, while there. I noticed as we went about that the streets were crowded with people and trash and dogs. Large golden pillars from the many pagodas (temples) filled the skyline of the city. It was loud at times on the streets because of cars honking and people yelling. About every fourth of a mile we would see cops and soldiers carrying their weapons on their shoulders with pride. We saw numerous officers taking bribes from the citizens. The black market money in Myanmar is called “Kyat” pronounced “chat.” The currency exchange at that time was 650 kyat to the dollar. The latest I heard was that number has gone up to 1200 kyat to the dollar. So why all this information about Myanmar?

I tell you these things because I love Myanmar, and I want to see them know and love and enjoy Jesus Christ. I want to see them live full lives. I want to see them freed from the oppression of their government and religion. I want to see them become a strong missionary force to Buddhist peoples in the area and to peoples all over the world. There are approximately 135 people groups in Myanmar. However, the current military regime that is running the country wants all to be defined as “Myanma.” There are close to 2 million believers in the country, and that number is growing. However, 98% of Myanmar remains untouched by the gospel. I would like to tell you a story about Ethan as I close.

Ethan was an English student I had while in Myanmar. He told me that his English name was Ethan, and he never told me his real name. I was on a bus with Ethan one afternoon, and he asked me a question. “Bryan,” he said, “what is the most important thing in the world to you?” I couldn’t believe he asked that! I answered, “My relationship with Jesus Christ.” His response, “Who is that?” I shared with him that He was God come to us as a man, and that He died on a cross for our sins and rose from the dead to give us joyful life in Him. He asked why He had to die on a cross. I then explained sin to him, and our need for a Savior and how Christ is that and so much more. There are many times that I cry thinking about him and not knowing if he has or ever will believe. I hope to someday go back to Myanmar with my soon to be wife, and perhaps labor long term for the kingdom.

 

-Bryan Padgett