Pastor Joe’s emotions pulsed as he and Mae prayed and planned with the team. “Is this the right choice for me as a father to be going into a conflict zone? Do I want to be in the middle of a war? No! What if I die and leave my children as orphans?” He wanted to say no, but he wanted to do the right thing too… The time of prayer helped though, and the peace and joy of heaven began to calm his racing heart. “There are desperate people who are hungry and alone in these jungles. Their children are in need!” Joe thought, and he and the team began to get fired up about the trip into the interior.
The region they were targeting for relief is a Karen area in Myanmar where we have worked to develop a community of leaders who serve children. It is a high human trafficking area. A KNU general, who is a local friend of ours, gave the team guidance on how to get to some the neediest communities. They had to ford rivers, traverse jungle trails, muddy from the almost constant monsoon rains. The team had to get past 12 checkpoints from 3 opposing military groups and avoid the Burma Army. At one point a Burma army truck was stopped on the trail, and they were examined right on the road.
Occasionally warnings would get to them and they would have to reroute to avoid active fighting areas. Joe and the team’s hearts sank when they saw the sad people. The smell was sometimes awful from dead animals and people, many killed by the widespread landmines. When they showed up, nobody was smiling at them. The Karen leaders didn’t trust Joseph as a Burmese coming to love and feed his enemies. But Joe was able to share his story through a translator. “I hated the Karen for killing my parents, a dreamed of joining the army and fighting them.” He told how years later, “God saved me and delivered me from heart disease during a revival meeting. The revivalist spoke out, ‘If you have pain in your heart, forgive your enemy!’ I forgave the Karen people and heard God calling me to serve them instead. The physical pain in my heart disappeared!” The community leaders warmed up at this, “We don’t know these people, but we believe that God sent them to our communities.”
While Pastor Joe and his team traveled, one of our leaders, Enna saw a vision of land mines buried in areas where our response team was supposed tread on. She saw how angels protected and directed our ground zero team. This redirection really happened during the actual trip into the conflict region when they had to reroute as fighting increased in the area they’d planned to pass through.
Hill, a missionary friend and key partner has an intercessory team praying for the relief efforts. One mom based in US was up all night in deep intercession to wage warfare for protection. Hill also received Psalms 23 from God during this time and shared how they saw so many angels protecting our team. This was a powerful testimony of God’s loving protection upon our team and also His great love upon the displaced communities through the provisions of relief. These provisions were truly answered prayers as it has been months now that these families have been displaced… Don’t you love how the church is in coordinated action as Jesus body?
Joe and the team bought most of the supplies locally in a Burmese Guard Force controlled area, to save on transport. They had to transport the goods across the river. Many mothers came to help pack and distribute until fighting came within a mile, and they had to go to look out for their children. Each family food package contained oil, onion, washing powder, soap, noodles, dry chilies, salt, and soy milk, plus we set up some rice distribution. There was great joy in the camp when the food was distributed!
The way home was just as adventurous between checkpoints and trying to outrun a surge in fighting so they wouldn’t get stuck. Joe observed, “This trip was not humanly possible, but God guided us throughout the whole trip and allowed us to safely complete all the things we had committed in prayer to get done. We are so thankful and grateful for the protection too!”
You are not too late to join in this relief effort and give life-saving support to families hading in the jungles of Myanmar. A gift of $70 per month feeds a family of 5 that is struggling to survive right now.