Hearing in our language

Brothers Jesurathnam and Victor had often wondered why their parents sent them to a school where Hindi was the language of instruction—unlike their friends who were able to attend the English school. This question was echoed by Anna, who had felt that she suffered from a similar choice her parents made for her. But God had plans that none of them could foresee.

Today Jesurathnam, Victor and Anna, together with Rev Jenson Andrew and other people from the Lutheran Bethlehem Church in Myanmar, are reliving something of the amazing story told in the book of Acts.

It all started in December 2013 when an elderly man from the Lutheran Bethlehem Church was  in hospital in Yangon. Members of the church were at his bedside praying for his healing. A small Hindustani boy, from a rural village some five hours drive away, lay dying in the bed alongside, surrounded by grieving relatives. Looking enquiringly over at the elderly man and the Christians with him, the Hindustani family asked them what they were doing.

‘We are followers of Jesus, and we are praying for this man’, was Jesuratham’s confident answer in Hindi. ‘Can you pray for our boy too?’ was the response. Without hesitation they laid hands on the boy and gave witness to the life of Jesus, his love and power to save all people, and prayed for healing for the boy.

Returning to the hospital the following day to pray for their elderly member, the Lutheran Christians saw that the boy’s bed was now empty. Thinking  that he may have died, they were amazed to learn that he had recovered and had returned home to his village. The story of his remarkable recovery and the message of the Christians spread among the villagers and they sent word back to Yangon to Jesurathnam, Victor and their leader, Rev Jenson Andrews (President of the Lutheran Bethlehem Church, Myanmar), to come to their village to tell them about Jesus and to pray for them.

In February 2014 these evangelists, pastors and people from the Lutheran Bethlehem Church made their first visit to this group of Hindustani people living in a cluster of villages in rural Myanmar. For two days they stayed with the people, sharing about Jesus and praying for the people who came with their many needs.

Then again, in the early hours of a November morning in 2014, this faithful band of Jesus’ followers returned to the village of the small boy. A crowd had gathered in anticipation of the visit and pressed into the room, sitting cross-legged on the floor, listening intently to the message about Jesus, telling stories of their experiences of being healed following the first visit in February, and now coming forward for anointing and prayer. The guests were hosted with a meal of dahl, rice and an Indian curry. As they prepared to farewell those who came together, a group of local farmers lined up on motorbikes, ready to ferry the Lutheran Christians to another village.

For 20 minutes they rode over rutted roads that dissected rice paddies where the fields were ripe for the harvest. What confronted the group from Yangon was nothing short of a miracle. In this small Indian-like village, where cows roamed freely among the houses, they were led into a Hindustani temple still under construction. A crowd of over 500 men and women dressed in colourful saris came streaming in to hear about Jesus, to be anointed with oil and prayed for. People pressed forward asking for prayer for healing, confessing to drug and alcohol addictions, and praying prayers of repentance. As the message of Jesus was shared in Hindi with conviction and joy, people’s lives were changed by the power of Holy Spirit.

Of all of the people in the Lutheran Bethlehem Church, only Jesurathnam, Victor and Anna can speak Hindi. God has turned their childhood anguish and humiliation into joy, as they can now use the Hindi language to share the message of Jesus Christ with these marginalised people of rural Myanmar—people who are hungry to know Jesus!

The Lutheran Bethlehem Church is one of four Lutheran churches in Myanmar and is a member of the LWF (Lutheran World Federation) Federation of Lutheran Churches in Myanmar. Through our membership of the LWF Mekong Mission Forum and in partnership with the Lutheran Church in Malaysia, the LCA and LCNZ helps to build up the brothers and sisters in the faith in these four Myanmar churches, particularly through theological scholarships and training offered for women, pastors and evangelists.

This story was also published in the March 2015 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 http://www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/international-partners/myanmar/