Myitkyina (Ma-gee’-na), the largest city in Kachin State, is located in northern Myanmar and was the location for a MTM conference in mid-July. All over Myanmar the Buddhist influence is felt, from grand pagodas rising hundreds of feet high in the public plaza to small idols in taxi cabs. Although free from showy symbols, God’s church in Kachin State is alive and well. This northern area enjoys an unusual heritage of Christianity, dating back nearly 200 years to early missions. They realize however that Satan is working hard to discount and water down the faith. It struck me that across cultures and language barriers, the issues of life and faith remain the same. Seeking to build the church through strong marriages and families, Brother Isaac and his team asked for five days of teaching on the Godly Home. Topics from courtship, to leadership, to roles of husbands and wives were taught from the Scripture.
The Full Conference Group At Myitkyina, MYANMAR
Seated in the front of the church, I had been taken off guard the first Sunday and then again the next Friday night as the offering plate was passed and I didn’t have anything ready to give. The collection came from even young Bible School students. The next Sunday, our last day in Myitkyina, I realized I was still carrying more kyat (Myanmar money, pronounced “jet”) on me than I needed for the rest of the trip. Feeling a little smug, I stuck the wad of bills in the collection plate. Imagine my surprise when after church, I was presented envelopes with a generous cash gift inside. I came ready to give, and ended up receiving. It seems giving is the normal response in this church – many of the pastors and church members we met have multiple levels of outreach – from preaching, running orphanages and drug rehabilitation centers, caring for the everyday needs of their community, to caring for the people in displaced persons camps. Some of these displaced people are from their own congregations. They realize however, that the primary mission field is in their homes, and that the light of the gospel can shine brightest from the simple example of a Godly family.
“You can’t out-give God”. As the gifts kept pouring in, I recounted to Merle and Judy the text of a sermon I heard a few years back. The brother who gave the message gave several experiences that illustrated God’s goodness and faithfulness in returning and even multiplying our gifts to Him. Our time in Myanmar was definitely a time of receiving His goodness. From native clothing, precious gemstones, and local hospitality, the local church in Myitkyina literally gave us back far more than we had invested.
Burning in my memory is an entire congregation standing together at our closing service, enthusiastically singing “When We All Get to Heaven”. What little investment we made in His kingdom will be returned to us many times in the memory of fellowship that stretches across language barriers. As they sing out in their tongue, and we in ours, we all sing to the glory of God! Our prayer for the church in Myitkyina is for strong Christian families that will keep singing and serving Him, living and worshipping in the beauty of His holiness.
Over and over we heard this plea, “Please come back again. Please come back very soon. We really need the things that you are teaching. This is a blessing to our churches.”
Editor’s note: The above article was written by MTM guest teacher, Brother David Swearingen from New Carlisle, Ohio. Dave’s family and home congregation sacrificed time, prayer, and resources for MTM and the church in Myanmar. Their willingness, teaching, and singing was a powerful example of servant leadership. Thank you Dave, Michelle, Brendan, Bailey, and Dane. To God be the glory, great things He has done!