A YWAM Ships outreach team made the perilous journey to this war-ravaged nation in April to bring humanitarian aid and spiritual nourishment. The seven-member team loaded a couple of four-wheel drive trucks and braved rugged terrain in route to villages in the Karen State, which is named after one of Myanmar’s largest ethnic groups.
The trip was part of a two-month outreach — from January’s Justice Discipleship Training School at Port YWAM — that also included stops in Thailand and Cambodia. The team arrived in Myanmar carrying health and safety equipment such as mosquito nets (because of the region’s vulnerability to malaria outbreaks) and first-aid kits.
Regan Watkins, 21, said living among the Burmese people was one of her highlights of the outreach.
“It was such an honor to live with the locals and get to experience life the way they live,” said Watkins, of Oregon, who co-lead the team.
Emma Pintur 20, said she was touched by the hospitality she experienced in Myanmar.
“The Karen people are some of the most beautiful and welcoming people I have ever met,” said Pintur, of Australia. “We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to stay in numerous villages.”
Myanmar citizens have lived under a constant state of civil conflict and military authoritarianism for decades, which have helped stunt the nation’s economic growth. It is arguably Southeast Asia’s most dangerous country because of ethnic tensions and because landmines are one of the choicest weapons deployed by the military and civilians alike in the ongoing strife there. Tyler Belan, 25, said his team felt a large measure of peace despite the risks involved in its mission.
“It’s very unsafe in a lot of the area so feeling safe was a fun thing because we were doing good work and knew we were being protected by Jesus the entire time despite anything that was around us,” said Belan, of Washington state, one of the team’s leaders. “That was a huge breakthrough.”
Despite the dangers, the YWAM Ships Kona team was able to have a peaceful experience and bring refreshment to the Karen people. They put on seminars educating villagers about basic hygiene and sanitation. They also brought candy and crafts for local children and taught Bible classes. They also used a portable screen and projector to show “The JESUS Film,” teaching masses of people about Christ. Dima Yarmolenko, a 23-year-old student on the team, said the film screening was one of his favorite memories in Myanmar.
“It’s translated in their language. We had an interpreter and we were able to share testimonies but ‘The JESUS Film’ helped us gather the crowd together,” said Yarmolenko, of Washington state. “That gave us the opportunity to share what God had done in our lives and the power of God and what He can do.”
Photos By Jason Eppink.