“Being in Myanmar was a breakthrough for me.”
– Pastor Hikari Suzuki
A few weeks ago, Silk and I had an exhausting and inspiring time in Myanmar with the pioneering leaders of our Pan Asia Leader Development (PALD) group. This is our first cohort of specially-chosen A2 alumni—two leaders each from five of our Asian Access countries.
Our five days together included many long bus rides as we visited areas in Myanmar pertinent to the country’s history, especially as it relates to the growth of God’s kingdom. We were sleep deprived but exhilarated.
Along with Pastor Hikari (who is from Japan), PALD participants shared how much the program has influenced their lives and leadership. In Hikari’s case, PALD has inspired him with a vision to see 5% of his nation reached for Christ.
The experience in Myanmar gave Pastor Hikari the tools to see this vision come to reality. He told us that prior to this trip, he couldn’t see how his vision could be fulfilled. But as he heard from a number of key leaders, he realized that there were common threads to their stories of spiritual breakthrough:
- It started with prayer;
- Then, the Holy Spirit worked through them;
- Evangelism and social-concern ministries were advanced together;
- The Christian community came together in unity;
- And even though they faced hardships along the way, God overcame.
The common story of the pastors bending their knees was powerful. In nearly every case, prayer paved the way for breakthrough.
Reconciliation and Peace
One pastor told of being invited to a Peace and Reconciliation meeting years ago, held in the midst of Myanmar’s decades-long civil war. As government leaders were sharing, one key activist invited this pastor to share. He said, “I’m no politician. I wouldn’t know what to say.” The activist replied, “I’ve seen many preachers and they always have something important to share.”
He prayed (remember the bended knee?) and God gave him some Biblical passages to share. He talked about how in the Bible, you really never have peace without first having reconciliation. Reconciliation had to precede peace.
This became a powerful moment in Myanmar’s history. The government leaders changed their process from being called “Peace and Reconciliation” to “Reconciliation and Peace.”
Myanmar still struggles with many ongoing challenges. But even though Myanmar faces many hardships, pressures, and challenges, there is a powerful and vibrant Church in Myanmar, blessed with leaders getting down on bended knees in prayer, trusting God to move in His good time.
What a blessing it was to be with the PALD group, together soaking in the wisdom from our inspirational hosts in Myanmar. It was indeed a breakthrough experience for all of us!
Joe Handley, President