By Taina Youngren
It’s always fascinating to arrive in a country where we have never been before. Peter had visited in the city of Mandalay briefly – and secretly – about fifteen years earlier, but otherwise the nation of Myanmar (Burma) was a new acquaintance to us. There are about 5.5 million people living in the city of Yangon, so we expected a great turnout in the football stadium that was booked for the Friendship Festival.
We knew that the nation of Myanmar with its 56 million people was almost entirely Buddhist and with a staggering 49 people groups, for whom Jesus died and rose again, yet without a Gospel witness – that was the motivation behind our outreach. After six decades of a brutal military dictatorship, the nation is increasingly open to the Gospel.
Peter had studied carefully about the Buddhist mindset; the worldview and image of God are very different than what we are used to in the western world. The mission was clear; we must open the spiritual eyes of the Burmese people so that they can see what God in Christ has done for them. We had no illusions… Without the Gospel being confirmed by Jesus Christ Himself doing wonders among the people, we would have little or no results.
And so it happened…
The first Festival night was exciting! What would happen? Would the local Buddhist people come? As always, Peter didn’t want to conduct a “Christian event” – but to reach those who have had very little, or no access to the Gospel. He preached and prayed, and suddenly a steady stream of people started to approach the platform. They all wanted to tell others how Jesus had healed them! We ended up having more people coming to testify than we were able to handle. The very first testimony was from a Muslim woman who had received her hearing after many years of deafness and dozens of Buddhist friends followed.
The whole Festival was filled with miracles. Peter’s proclamation that Jesus took and dealt with the “bad karma” of humankind on the cross 2000 years ago, was a crucial revelation (karma, in Buddhism and Hinduism, means the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding individuals’ fate in future existences).
We lost count for how many eyes were healed from blindness and other diseases. Numerous tumors were gone. Deaf ears were opened. People who were not able to walk began to walk. One lady told me that she was scheduled to have a surgery in a month because she had a big growth in her womb – now she didn’t need an operation. Jesus is the infallible Healer!
Casting out the “slave woman”
The pastors and leaders’ Seminar had an explosion when Peter shared from Romans chapter 7. It was an earthmoving revelation to most of the pastors that the Apostle Paul compares the Law to an unhappy marriage! The great Apostle was bound to the Law and he was miserable as he was not able to keep or perform it. The Law only showed what was wrong with him without any power – or willingness – to help or redeem. Only Jesus Christ is the “perfect husband” who helps us without making us feel guilty and condemned.
On the last day of the Seminar Peter taught from the Galatians; about the symbolic illustrations of Sarah and Hagar. This may have been the most “expensive” Seminar the leaders ever attended – they may need to throw away all their old sermon notes and worship songs. Peter and the attendees had a great time casting out the “slave woman” (Hagar) from the church prayer meetings, praise and worship, healing ministry, evangelism and offering time. Sarah (grace) doesn’t work by guilt, but by love!
It all started with a dinner
The whole Festival week in Yangon started with the Friendship Dinner. This is a very special dinner with local religious and political leaders, sometimes also with journalists and business leaders. Peter shares the purpose of the Festival and invites everyone to attend without discrimination. All religions have their representative to give a speech at the dinner. They get to know us and we get to know them – nobody needs to be guessing why we are in the city. This time all main Buddhist monasteries, twenty of them in total, were represented by their leaders as well as the Muslim and Hindu communities.
As people who come from different cultural and religious backgrounds we do have differences, but we also have similarities. Most of all, we are all created by God who loves us and wants us to know Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. There are no demands, no conditions, only an invitation to get to know Him. Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
We are grateful for partners and friends who helped us to go to Myanmar and share the Gospel in Yangon. In our thinking it is a basic human right for everyone to hear the Gospel at least once in their lifetime. Tens of thousands of people got to know Him now. Thank you!
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“I Saw Jesus”
U. Chitko spoke to one of our team members one day after his healing. “I feel so very happy. Yesterday I received my hearing after 35 years. At first I could hardly believe it, but then I realized that I could hear everything clearly. God has been so gracious to me. I’ve never known God before.
Everything changed when I saw Jesus during the prayer at the stadium. Jesus came to me very clearly in a vision, wearing a white robe, and he took the hearing aid out of my ears. I was shaking all over when I saw this vision and after that the deafness was totally gone. I can hear very clearly. God is alive.
U Chitko’s wife commented, “ After the healing we have been so happy that we forgot to eat for a whole day.”