Anna Julian speaks with a quiet and deep confidence. It is a confidence that comes from a lifetime of knowing that Jesus loves her and that this love allows her to love and serve him. Anna has been involved in the translation for English speakers who travel to Myanmar for the biannual Women’s Bible Conference. […]
Anna Julian speaks with a quiet and deep confidence. It is a confidence that comes from a lifetime of knowing that Jesus loves her and that this love allows her to love and serve him.
Anna has been involved in the translation for English speakers who travel to Myanmar for the biannual Women’s Bible Conference. The conference gathers Lutheran women from the different ethnic groups across the country. Together they celebrate the joy they have in common in Jesus, as his precious children. In an ‘us and them’ society, the gathering contrasts with the ethnic and cultural divisions in Myanmar; divisions that are often intensified by political and social stances.
Anna’s mother and grandmother also loved Jesus. From when she was a young girl, they prayed and read God’s word with Anna. This had a profound impact on Anna. Throughout her childhood, Anna loved to read the Scriptures, even when she did not understand all the words. She would then share the stories with others. When snack sellers and Buddhist monks passed by her house, Anna would share the gospel.
As an adult she refers to God’s Word as His ‘love letter’ because Anna believes this book is about the deep love of her Heavenly Father for her and for all people. After she married, Anna moved away to live with her mother-in-law’s family. The Buddhist monks told her mother ‘now there is no-one to share the gospel with us’. Today, when Hindu women come to Anna for housework, Anna uses the opportunity to share the gospel with them.
The Holy Spirit has given Anna a deep trust, which enables her to openly and honestly share everything with God. Each day she says, ‘Father, let’s take a walk together’. During these walks, Anna shares her burdens, her struggles and her joys with God. When she is struggling to forgive someone, the conversation during the walk may be, ‘Lord, please just give me time’!
The Women’s Bible Conference has not been held in recent years (due to the coup and COVID-19), but Anna has continued her life of ministry. She has met with a small group of people from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Myanmar, by travelling twice a month to a village three hours away (2 hours by car, 1 by boat, then a 15 minute walk). They travel to meet as frequently as they can, to continue building close and trusting relationships.
They meet with the Hindu women and teach the 20 children there the traditional Tamil language. The women are open to having their children taught a Bible verse and a song about Jesus in Tamil at the start of each lesson. It is through the children that Anna believes the Holy Spirit will be present to their families.
One family who attends the gatherings have accepted Jesus, but struggle with family pressure to continue with Hindu customs and practices. Many of the customs are entrenched as a part of Indian communities; the people worry that they will lose their identity if they give up too much. Anna, herself a woman of Indian background, relies on the Holy Spirit to guide people to make courageous decisions and to become free from the bondage of Hindu rituals.
When Anna meets with people who have heard the gospel but are not yet resting in the grace of Jesus Christ, she tells them that she doesn’t want to convert them. Instead, she encourages them to simply ‘taste and see that our God is the living God’.
We read and came to know from the news and media that daily life in Myanmar is hard. Many young students and medical people have fled the city of Yangon either to escape the war or to fight with the People’s Defence Force (PDF). The military junta (who overthrew the Myanmar government) raid village houses searching for members of the PDF. Bombings and fighting continue, with many young people losing their lives. Recent waves of COVID-19 have devastated communities as hospitals are closed, vaccinations are few and many of the medical staff are fighting the junta.
Internet access is limited and personal use is tracked. VPNs are taken from phones and power is only available for a few hours in the mornings and afternoons. In Yangon, bombs can still be heard, as the military surround the town hall. Church buildings close to the town hall remain closed. Others are starting to meet physically together, with someone stationed at the door to offer security.
But despite all the hardships, the church is alive in Myanmar. People are reading God’s love letter and clinging onto His faithfulness. If you don’t already do this, perhaps you could invite God to take a walk with you each day. As you become open to His leading and trust in his unrelenting love, He will reveal Himself to you. If you have heard the gospel but are still unsure if you believe in Him, try tasting and maybe you will see that our God is good.
This story was also published in the August 2022 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.
Many of our partner churches are working in new territory for the kingdom of God; therefore, spiritual attack is their everyday reality. As a member of a congregation, school, or family, or a couple or individual, you are invited to commit to praying for our partners in mission. For regular prayer point updates, go to www.lca.org.au/international-mission/act-now/pray
Read more stories about our partner churches in Myanmar at https://www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/international-partners/myanmar/