2017 Myanmar – Graciela Kim

One With Him

From 8-16 January 2017, a team of 10 from New Philadelphia Church flew out to Myanmar. For the first half of the trip we were in northern Kachin state in the city of Myitkyina with Pastor Khaungze as our local contact. For the second half of the trip, we were in Yangon with Pastor Tuang, the director of NPWM (Native Pastors for World Missions) in Myanmar. I will split highlights into two parts, one for each half of the trip, as they were very different.

Throughout the trip I kept singing this song randomly, without having heard it in many months: “All I want is just to know Your heart, and would You keep me here until we’re one.” I believe this was a huge theme and purpose of this trip for myself personally, but also for the people of Myanmar. We are not called simply to do God’s work and just do God’s ministry and just see God’s power. Rather we are called to be in an intimate relationship with God. All the ministry we do must be aligned to His heart, so everything we do, say, speak, is from Him, with Him, and through Him.

The first half of the trip with Pastor Khaungze was one that made me fall in love with the city of Myitkyina and the Kachin people. Pastor Khaungze oversees many churches, is the National Director of the Assemblies of God denomination in that region, and oversees many church plants and trusted pastors. Each night for dinner, he would invite the team over to his house, as his wife and church leaders would cook for us. He wanted our team to feel like family and not like foreigners. We were so blessed sharing these meals with him. There was so much laughter and sharing of stories. It was a glimpse of heaven, rejoicing with Kingdom family even across language and cultural barriers.

On the last morning in Myitkyina, P. Khaungze invited some of the pastors and leaders that he oversees to a special service at his church. We had a blast worshiping and dancing with these ministers. Pastor Marcus preached a powerful word about Moses striking the rock in Numbers 20, although God had told him to speak to the rock instead. Pastor Marcus gave a warning to all of us ministers, about what happens when we don’t deal with our emotions and allow our hearts to unknowingly harden towards God. Without even realising, we can continue to do ministry by method, and not out of a place of intimacy and relationship with the Father. Moses struck the rock, knowing that water would flow, as per his experience in Exodus 17. And water did flow for the Israelites. Yet because this miracle was performed in disobedience to God’s commands, Moses was forbidden from entering the Promised Land.

This message went out with power and spoke volumes. The people of Myanmar are generally not very expressive or dramatically emotional. Even receiving a hug was huge. But all of these pastors and leaders, each with so many more years of ministry experience than our team, each and every single one of them came to kneel before God. They came to repent, and to ask Him for a fresh touch to soften their hearts and renew their intimacy with Him. When I saw this, I was moved to tears. I couldn’t believe how these amazing ministers were humbling themselves before God and in front of this young foreign team. Pastor Khaungze and his wife were one of the first to come and kneel at the altar. I’ve only had a year or two of ministry experience, and have already experienced that hardness of heart. But my heart broke in compassion for this ministry couple, trying to imagine what kind of persecution, loss, and pressure that they might have faced over the decades. And yet they humbly came, longing for our great God, longing for His touch and His intimacy again. God showed up powerfully that day, touching each son and daughter and softening their hearts, renewing intimacy with each one of His ministers. I felt like He was clothing them in strength, and especially in honour and dignity, as they have served faithfully. I left Myitkyina in awe of these humble ministers, and in awe of God’s faithfulness to them, and stirred up by this message being stewarded in my own heart.

As our team arrived in Yangon, I saw not only the physical environment around us change, but also felt the spiritual climate change drastically as well. We were no longer in an area that was predominantly Christian. We were right by the largest Buddhist temple in Myanmar, right in the centre of Yangon. You can see this pagoda from any part of the city. This was more like what I remembered about Myanmar, from my previous trip five years ago. Our team also began to show physical signs of this warfare, so we rallied to stay alert, continue praying, and fight against these battles.

As we were all praying one night, I saw an image of a giant diamond before me, maybe 5 times the size of my body. I couldn’t understand fully what this meant, but I felt like it was how God viewed His church in Myanmar. There was light coming into the diamond, and it radiated the light in different directions, from different faces. Later on I would come to see what this image represented. On our last day, half of the team went to Sunday service at Pastor Tuang’s church. And as I looked up at their stage, I saw Isaiah 60:1 written: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.” I felt that this church, and the Church in Myanmar, was that diamond. You see, diamonds are formed deep underneath the Earth’s surface. They are formed in darkness, through much tension and at extremely high temperatures. But after these diamonds are formed, they are able to withstand intense pressure. The Church in Myanmar has gone through intense pressure and tensions, deep in the darkness for many years. But it is now time to shine. The light of God has risen and as His light shines upon His gem, the Church in Myanmar is radiating light out to the entire nation!