More updates from my awesome team members on Myanmar:

Ashlee: http://wheresashlee.blogspot.com/2008/05/yeshu-bontsi-bah-see-doh-myanma-dee-nai.html

Here is an email from Matt, our team leader, that he sent out to the church today:

Dear church,

We have returned safely from Burma/Thailand, and I am overwhelmed by what has happened the past two weeks. A cyclone hits Myanmar, we receive an opportunity to help, send out a church wide e-mail and within an hour, my phone is off the hook. In the end, over 80 individuals were ready to leave everything in a day’s notice to love and serve the people of Burma and over 20 were willing to fund it. This is not normal. It is a testimony to our God and how powerfully he has worked in all of our lives. We have received something so great and so loving, that we can only respond by wanting to give that back to the world. So we went.

If we could have taken 80 we would have, but in the end, we left with a team of five. None of us were worthy or prepared for what lay ahead of us. We flew into Bangkok, Thailand, and immediately drove to the border of Burma with literally only the clothes on our backs (our luggage got lost). The only things that made it were the two water purification systems, and they were by far the most important.

At the border, we came up against some of the strongest forces of evil I have ever seen. With hundreds of thousands of people dead or dying, the government of Burma had closed off the country to foreign aid. By the grace of God, we were able to get a day pass and walk into this very dark place. It was simply overwhelming to be so close yet so far. We wept and cried out to God in a Buddhist temple that day for these people’s freedom. As we continued to walk the streets, we looked into the faces, saw the smiles and did our best to smile back.

As it became more and more a reality that we were not going to reach the disaster areas, God brought to us some local brothers and sisters in the faith. They were underground Burmese Christians who passionately loved Jesus and wanted to help their people. We all prayed and decided that they were to be the ones to distribute the aid and provide clean water for the dying. We strategically got all the aid across the border and as you read this, it is making its way, along with our Burmese siblings, to the disaster areas. What we love about this is that the local believers get to be the heroes.

In light of this, we were faced with a very difficult decision. All of us wanted to stay because we quickly fell in love with these people, but we also wanted to utilize resources and do what was best for the Burmese. Our presence on the border was not unnoticed, and it was not a mystery that we were being watched rather closely. We all felt that this created more of a threat for the local believers, and having five white faces around for another week was probably not the best thing for them. Also, by leaving early, we were able to save money and give it for the purchase of more supplies for the cyclone victims.

So, we are back, and our hearts are very heavy. We know without a doubt that God sent us there for a reason. Although we didn’t pass it out ourselves, people were able to receive help. Along with this, we fell in love with a country, a people, and we are ready to fight for them. It most certainly does not end with our trip. As a church, we want to intercede and cry out to God on their behalf, and continue to look for ways we can help our brothers and sisters. We ask you to join us. On Wednesday, May 28, we will have a day of fasting and prayer for the Burmese people. We will end the day with a community worship service and time of intercession from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Highland Village worship center. This will be a time to cry out to God on their behalf with fellow members from The Village and local Burmese living in our area. I look forward to seeing you all there.

Again, thank you for your willingness to go and help. I am deeply moved and so grateful to be a part of such a wonderful body of believers. I cannot wait to go and continue to be a light unto the world with all of you for years to come. I love you guys.

Matt Elkins
Short-Term Missions Pastor

I think those of us from the trip are feeling more overwhelmed than anything, because it’s very hard to go and see this suffering, be so close to being able to physically help it, but be called home. I’m just so thankful there were so many who couldn’t go, but gave money, and while we did not make it in, their money definitely did. But for when we have limited resources to help more, we will use our voices. A voice can be a very powerful thing. So we’ll use our voices to call out attention for people when they are already starting to fade from the news spotlight — right when the most perilous phase has begun for the survivors. Many gone without clean water, food, and shelter for 18 days now, and still have very little hope of receiving it. 2 weeks ago, they sat laughing with their families. Now 30,000 children are at an acute risk of dying from starvation. Can you imagine their trauma? The pressure still needs to be put on the Burmese government, aid organizations still need people to give. Most importantly, we can use our voices to pray to the God and Creator of the Universe. If you’d like to pray and fast on May 28 with us, even from afar, that would be wonderful. Love you guys.

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