2017 Myanmar – Natalie Weaver

The Battle Strategy

“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,” – 2 Corinthians 2:26-28

First, thank you for sending me on this trip to Myanmar, and praying for me as I was in the field. It was a powerful time of experiencing God’s presence as He worked through and in me. Our team travelled to the northern city of Myitkyina and finished our trip in the capital city of Yangon. While I was serving in Myanmar with my team, God broke into my mindset of who I am and what my value is. I am a different person today from who I was before embarking on my very first missions trip.

I knew that God uses what is foolish to shame the wise, but I had not truly understood it. When preparing for this trip, the doors flew open to take time from work and do ministry in the mission field. And yet from my first night in Myanmar I kept hearing the same accusations over and over again as I was falling asleep every night: “Why are you here? You have nothing of value to bring to this team. You are the weak link on the team. Why did you even think you should come on this trip? There is no special breakthrough you can help bring in this country. You took this spot from someone who would have brought exactly what these people needed to hear from God.” Every night it was a fight to speak the truth over myself, to battle through these words that were rushing through my mind. I felt like a failure and a little foolish, but I knew God had called me to be on this trip at this time and with this team. I shared my struggles with two people on my team just so I would not be battling alone. But I kept the severity of this attack to myself. I was hearing lies that I have heard since childhood– words that said my value is in my ability to listen, not to speak. Sharing in front of people has always been very difficult for me. I knew each team member had to submit our testimonies, but I was terrified at the idea of sharing mine in the field. I told my Team Leader Marie about this fear, and she assured me that my testimony was powerful. She said that once I saw someone share their testimony in the field, I’d understand how it was supposed to go and feel better about it. “Okay,” I thought. “I’ll wait to see how this goes and then I’ll feel better about it.”

So after two days of flying, we finally arrived in Myitkyina. At our first service I’d finally started to find my way– watching how the more experienced missionaries were operating and trying to emulate what I saw them doing. Then the native congregation entered into their time of worship. Joy filled praise, completely in Burmese, started to fill the building. And my heart just lifted as soon as I heard it. We gathered our team together to pray, and our team preacher, Pastor Marcus, told us what he would be preaching on this particular morning. Then he said the words I had been dreading: “And Natalie will be sharing her testimony today.” I looked at him, and I literally thought “Are you crazy? I don’t know how to share a testimony, much less in the mission field. Oh no. It’s the first day and our team preacher has already lost it…” Thankfully, none of this came out of my mouth. I don’t think it’s advisable to call your team preacher crazy on the first day in the field. According to some of my team members I just said, “Okay, sounds good,” or something to that effect. I went to talk to the translator and I was thinking, “Could I just hand him the paper and he can just read it for me?” Walking into the service I felt this heavy dread in my heart as all the words I had been hearing the past few nights started to fill my mind. I didn’t really want to be there in that moment. I didn’t want to worship even though my heart had been lifted by the praise just moments before. So I sang and prayed. Through those few minutes before I had to get up and share, God showed me how much of my story He had written, and how His story is never powerless. His story always goes out in strength. And when I stood up in front of the congregation, it was the first time I’d ever spoken in front of people and not been terrified.

But this was only the beginning of my understanding how God wanted to work in Myanmar. On our last day in Myitkyina when we went to the church of our local pastor, Pastor Khaugze. He had invited different pastors from the area as well as his own church leaders to hear from our team. These are some of the most amazing people I had ever met, and their hearts shining through their bright smiles. Pastor Marcus gave an amazing message about renewing their hearts that really captured what God wanted to say to these leaders. Glancing around the room, you could see a few people were sitting on the edge of their seats. And at the end of the message, every person in the church came forward and knelt at the front of the church in response to the altar call. This was not what I expected. I am just a young adult whose walk with Christ has been rocky and not always straight. Yet here I was praying for these men and women who have poured out their lives so that God would be glorified in Myanmar. These people had been fighting a fight that I could not even fathom, and here they were kneeling, and I was going to pray for them. For a moment I was intimidated and a little shaken inside. But God uses whoever He wants to do His will. And if I could bring any refreshing to any one of these precious ministers through my prayers, I would not hold back. This time was powerful, and not only for me. I could see it etched on the faces of my team members as they prayed. I could hear it in their voices as we shared with each other that evening. Though I am not the strongest or most eloquent Christian, I believe God was using me alongside my team members to release His refreshing presence and a living hope to these powerful men and women.

One last story I want to share is how God revealed an even more radical strategy in Yangon at the New Light Preschool. I’m a Kindergarten teacher, so of course I couldn’t let this time go by without sharing about our time at a preschool that serves about forty precious neighbourhood children. This Christian preschool was started by our local pastor in Yangon, Pastor Tuang and his wife. It is located in a completely Buddhist neighbourhood. None of the students attending this preschool are from Christian homes. And I was struck by this battle strategy. Here we were equipping these children, who according to the world have no value in and of themselves. According to the world, the value of children is in who they will become in the future. Their value is not in who they are at the moment. This is why it was radical when Jesus welcomed the children to Him when He was teaching. And this was a concept that the founder and teachers of this preschool understood, a concept that I am only beginning to understand. You see, this preschool was started to offer excellent education in this neighbourhood, to draw in these children who don’t know Jesus. As these children learn about Jesus, they will go back into their homes and reach their parents, siblings, and neighbours with the Gospel. How amazing is that? While we were dancing with the kids, sharing a skit that we put together the night before and on the bus ride to the preschool, I just looked out at these laughing and eager children mingled with the shy ones who were doing everything they could not to react. Then one of my team members, Kim MacDonald, gave a powerful message about God’s love that was beautifully tailored specifically to these little minds. Afterwards, she told these children that we wanted to give them a heart present. So these precious little children stood, closed their eyes, and opened their hands, and we were able to pray over each one of them. As they stood there, their precious faces so intent as we prayed over them in a language many of them didn’t understand, you could feel the Holy Spirit moving in the room. You could feel how important these little ones are to Him. They are valuable just as they are, and they will make mighty moves in Myanmar.

There was so much more that happened in Myanmar, and talking with the different people on my team, I can tell that God really highlighted different themes and key revelations for each of us. As much as we were encouraged and able to build up what God is doing in this beautiful country, I know there is so much more on the horizon for our brothers and sisters expanding the Kingdom in this nation.