The Light of Hope for a Girl in East Asia

“Is he a movie star?” asked a girl named Phyo Phyo as my friend Tze finished up a scene for the mobilization video we were shooting in Myanmar. I, with a smile on my face, looked at Tze and said, “No, but he wishes he was!”

This was the beginning of a conversation that took place on top of a temple located in one of the rural areas found throughout Myanmar. Phyo Phyo, we learned, is a young lady. She dresses like a boy to help protect her sisters and to fulfill the male role as she is the oldest of her siblings and has no brothers. She has faced tragedy like few of us have ever known.

This simple question, unbeknownst to all of us, was the opening of a door that led to two days of talking about Buddhism, visiting her village, learning about the struggles she and her younger sisters face daily, discovering that she has no hope in what she believes and being able to share with her a story about a Man that she had never heard of before, but was eager to learn about.

Phyo Phyo was excited to show us her village, a beautiful farming village filled with friendly people. There she took us to visit her grandparent’s place, the school (filled with happy smiling children), the village temple and then her house where she allowed us to interview her for the video project.

The house was just an open space with no walls, a roof, some of their personal items scattered about and a place to cook food. She said, “At night my sister and I have to leave our house and stay at my grandparents because the neighbors sell beer and the men get drunk. I don’t want to leave, but I must protect my sisters.”

As the interview went on, we learned more about her life struggles and her belief in something that gives no hope. My heart went out to her and I was overwhelmed with a mixture of sadness, compassion, longing to help and questions as to why this young life had to go through so much.

“Phyo Phyo, have you ever heard of a man named Jesus?” I asked. “No.” she responded. The answer to the next question broke my often-concealed emotions, “No one has ever come here to tell you about him?”  “No, no one has come.” she said with a look of both confusion and longing to know who I was talking about.

At that point I was reminded of the book of Romans where Paul writes four very important questions that we the Church must daily ask ourselves should we truly desire to live the lives that God wants us to live.

First, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?” Many of us do not know what this is like as we live where the gospel is heard on a daily basis.

Second, “And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?”  Few of us will ever be able to say we have never heard.

Third, “And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” Again, most of us live where the preaching of God’s Word is abundant.

And finally, “And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” Sadly, only about 3% of the missionaries that the church sends out go to the unreached, while 97% go to reached people groups, and only 0.3% of global Christian giving is designated to areas where people like Phyo Phyo are ready to hear, but few are willing to support or even to go.

I tried what I could to explain to Phyo Phyo this wonderful truth of hope, love, compassion, forgiveness and salvation, the truth that, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But my mind and heart were so wrapped up in emotions that I couldn’t get everything in focus and found myself needing to take a break and think things over.

Later, as Phyo Phyo, Tze, Sam (my father-in-law), Sandra (my mother) and I sat in the shadow of a Buddhist temple for shade, I opened my Bible which was given to me when I became a believer at 18 years old and asked Phyo Phyo if she could read the words written in it.

She began to read John 1:6-8, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.” It was beautiful to hear those words coming out of her mouth and I gave her that Bible with hopes that she would continue to read it.

Later that evening as we went out for dinner, we looked out and saw Phyo Phyo sitting in a horse cart under a shade tree with my old Bible open and lying on her lap. There she was, reading God’s Word for just the second time in her life, smiling, longing for more people to come and share the Good News with her and her family and eagerly searching for this one known as the light of hope.

Are you ready to share that hope with the people of Myanmar? Visit our opportunity site to learn how you can become involved.

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