Nine months ago, Simon* would have never imagined that God would lead him on such a faith journey as He did in November this year. After leaving the mission field since the onset of the Covid pandemic, he had finally managed to return to a town near the Thailand-Myanmar border when travel restrictions were lifted. In mid-November, together with local Jesus followers, Simon coordinated a food distribution for more than 60 families from three villages in a remote part of the border region.
“More than a year after Covid-19 started, I thought that God was done with me as a missionary. I then started a home business early this year and was contented with the success of the business. When the Myanmar military coup started in February, I was hearing many accounts of what was happening in Myanmar. My helper would give me daily updates of what her family was going through – how they had to hide in the jungles and so forth. Hearing these updates burdened me and my thoughts kept going back to the people I knew in Myanmar,” Simon shared.
While he was baking for his business one day, he listened to a sermon by a missionary. At that point, the Holy Spirit prompted Simon to pray to God for a clear indication of whether He was done with him as a missionary or not. The next day, he was approached about an opportunity to go back to the mission field as a relief coordinator.
“The timing of that question must be God’s answer,” Simon thought, but he was still sceptical.
“How about my finances? If this is real, please provide me with the money for this.” Simon tested God with this prayer.
The next day, he was invited to his pastor’s home for a time of worship and felt led to pray for Myanmar. After the prayer, his pastor asked if there might be a possibility for him to go back to the mission field. He added that if he should do so, the church will support him financially.
“I knew then that God had answered my prayer and left me with no choice but to obey Him,” Simon added.
“I was still very fearful and reluctant to go back. I knew in my heart that I would need very strong prayer support as the spiritual forces at the mission field were very strong. God sent people from my church to come alongside to support me and my family with prayer. Even now, they are praying for me every week. God had put in place all that I needed.”
When travel borders started opening up in October, Simon finally managed to travel back to the mission field. When he first arrived, he felt lost, very vulnerable and did not know what to do. One of God’s first words to him then was to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Through a local partner, Thi*, Simon found out that several villages in a remote mountainous region were in need. Due to the political unrest and the Covid situation in that area, the villagers had not been able to gain access to food supplies. They were isolated and in distress. That area had also not been easily accessible by other relief organisations since the pandemic started.
Thi had a friend living in a small town near the villages that could help them and with a leap of faith, Thi and Simon went to the town to assess what they could do.
When they arrived there, Thi’s friend connected them to the chief of that town, who owned a provision shop. They managed to buy all the supplies that they needed from him. As a Christian, he was very willing to help and spoke to the authorities in that region on their behalf to gain access to the villages.
“We faced another obstacle,” Simon remarked. “We would not be able to navigate through the rough terrain in our pick up truck. Through the chief, we managed to borrow two four-wheel drive trucks and mobilised three other volunteers to help us, including Thi’s friend, the chief and their local church pastor. We loaded the two trucks to the brim with the food packages, which contain a bag of rice, cooking oil, salt, tinned sardines, instant noodles, onions, garlic and fermented fish paste seasoning in each pack.”
A gospel tract written by the local pastor in their own language was also inserted into each food pack. The tract encouraged readers to trust Jesus in whatever trials and tribulations that they were going through.
Simon continued, “As we drove nearer to the mountain, fear started to grip my heart. I realised that the journey would be dangerous and started praying fervently. God knew my fears. When we reached the base of the mountain, several local escorts leaped into our vehicles to provide protection as we drove up the mountain. I was greatly comforted by their presence.”
It took them about an hour to reach the peak through rough terrain. When they reached there, they saw a group of villagers waiting for them. As access to their villages was not granted, they had to distribute the food packages in a safe location. The villagers had to walk three hours to reach the distribution point.
“My heart broke when I saw them,” shared Simon. “I tried to hide my tears as we unloaded the food packages. It was painful to see them looking so worn out and defeated. I could also see that they are unwell, perhaps from Covid.”
“The day before I set off on this journey, God led me to read about Paul’s first missionary journey. I knew that God was trying to say something to me. When Thi asked if he could share the gospel with the villagers, I said without hesitation that God wanted him to do that!”
Thi started to preach. After that, he asked Simon to pray for them.
“My message was clear – God wanted to remind them that they were not forgotten. Living in isolation for so long, it was easy for others to forget these villagers. But through my prayer for them, I wanted them to know that God loved them, that He saw and heard their cries,” Simon explained.
They left after about an hour. Although Simon had spent nine months planning for this moment, when he saw how God touched everybody involved in the whole relief operation, he knew that all that work was worth it.
For Thi, the relief operation was like a personal revival. In his 60s, he had thought that his days of serving God were over. But after this, he was hopeful that God still had use and purpose for him.
Simon also had similar insights. “God was not done with me as a missionary yet. He made me realise that previously, I was working on my own strength and ability to get everything done, but that was not His plan. Through all that had happened throughout the relief operation, He was telling me to just follow Him and He would do all the work.”
He added, “I had often wondered how Moses would have felt when He stood at the Red Sea and saw it part. I can say now that I had a taste of that feeling. It was exciting to see God’s work unfolded before my eyes. I am encouraged to continue to stay pure and holy, and to obey Him, and I believe that He will show me more of the power of the Holy Spirit.”
“In Luke 19:40, Jesus said, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” Like the disciples, I just want to testify to the amazing works that I have seen. I must glorify God by sharing this story of God’s work in my life, as well as in the lives of all that I met during this relief operation.”
*Names changed for security reasons.