The atmosphere in the city’s slum is stifling. Bouts of heavy rainfall have left the streets – and many of the houses – waterlogged or flooded, yet between the downpours the temperatures and humidity rise steadily and the air soon becomes oppressive. But there is a greater sense of heaviness, ominous and menacing, that lingers over this place. Poverty is widespread here and many people are struggling just to survive. Child abandonment and abuse is rife. Violence, particularly against women and girls, is commonplace. Drunkenness and drug use is a way of life for many people. As I walk up and down these streets, seeing the squalor, suffering and brokenness, I feel sick to the pit of my stomach.
And yet God is at work here.
The care center is run by a local pastor and his family. It is like a flower pushing its way up through a crack in concrete: here there is color, laughter, joy, hope. The 75 children know that they are loved by the amazing staff team and they are seeing encouraging improvements in their educational attainment, physical health, emotional well-being, and their understanding of a loving Heavenly Father who calls them precious, beautiful, children of His.
And this hope is contagious. It is spreading from the care center itself to the families of the children that are served and the community beyond. I experience this when I visit the family of a little girl in their rickety, dilapidated home, made of bamboo, that provides little protection against the weather. Sitting on the floor, I hear how the girl’s paralyzed father was, like most of the people in this community, a Buddhist. Yet God has clearly been at work in his life, and he has come to know Christ. The girl’s mother earns a little money by washing clothes for her neighbors, and she would help her since her parents could not afford to send her to school. That has now changed – thanks to the support of the care center – and this little girl beams as she tells me she is “overjoyed” that she now has the opportunity to receive an education. “May God bless all those who support me” she earnestly tells me.
Please join me in praying for this community. Pray that hope would continue to break through the heaviness, the evil, that has its grip here. Pray for God’s constant protection for the staff and ministry. And pray for these beautiful children, that they would come to experience for themselves the love of the Savior.
UPDATE – FEBRUARY 14, 2021
On Monday 1 February, Myanmar’s army took control of the country, detaining democratically elected leaders of the National League for Democracy (NLD) who had won a landslide election victory in November. A one-year state of emergency has been declared, and a curfew is currently in place, with the army patrolling the streets.
The pastor leading the care center program has asked for prayer:
- For peace – the safety of those who are demonstrating, the release of government leaders, and a speedy and peaceful resolution to the crisis
- For the church – that believers would be a light in the darkness at this time
- For God’s wisdom and leading for this pastor and his family as they care for church members, shepherd new believers in their faith, and coordinate efforts to provide care to children and families in the community
- For the care center – for continued positive impact in the lives of children, their families and the community, and for funding needed to continue operating the center in the coming year
(Note that no names of people or places have been included in this post for security reasons).