A relief effort funded partly by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention in Burma (also called Myanmar) has resulted in the construction or repair of 15 Baptist churches, about 70 fishing boats and nets purchased for villagers, and discipleship training for dozens of pastors and laymen.
A Burmese citizen helping with relief efforts told the Southern Baptist TEXAN the work there following Cyclone Nargis, which killed nearly 150,000 people last May, was progressing.
The SBTC first sent aid to the Southeast Asian country last summer and again this fall. Baptist Global Relief has also done relief work in the country since the cyclone.
Some small coastal villages in the country were destroyed, while others have regrouped with help from relief agencies overseen by the military controlled, Buddhist-dominated government.
In addition to fishing boats and rebuilding churches, the $10,000 SBTC churches provided helped rebuild some straw huts and provided push tractors for farmers.
“Materially, physically, they are doing quite well,” the relief worker said. “The most important thing right now is spiritual needs.”
With help from a Burmese business owner who became a Christian eight months ago, Baptists working in Burma were able to offer evangelism and discipleship training in several cities, drawing interest even from pastors of liberal churches, some of whom were receptive to hearing the gospel for the first time.
In fact, the relief worker told the TEXAN that from Dec. 4-14, about 45 young people, mostly from liberal churches, went through a basic Bible doctrines class that covered sin, salvation, the doctrine of God, and other basic fundamentals of the faith at the urging of a pastor who gained assurance of his salvation after he was asked if he knew where he would spend eternity.
“We helped him understand assurance of salvation,” the Burmese worker said. Consequently, the man has set a new course in his ministry.
Bibles may be distributed legally only in churches, and 150 were given away to Burmese citizens. The business owner also purchased 50 of the 70 fishing boats and funded evangelistic work throughout the coastal areas, the worker said.
“We have planted two churches” with help from the business owner, who is very wealthy and wants to do more to spread the gospel, the relief worker said.
“God has so many people. We just don’t know how many he has. His provisions, protections?the power of God is incredible.”