FACES - YWAM Singapore Issue.2018 - Page 13

Yangon’s Perceived Needs t the outset of our ministry, one of the most visible needs was the many orphans who were brought to us from rural villages. At the time, the most obvious solution was to set up orphanages in the city to gather these children and give them a home. However, over time, we quickly realised that whilst some of the children in our care had been orphaned and left to devastating circumstances—civil wars, sex traffi cking, and drug abuse— there were many children whose families were still living in rural villages. We found out that it was a common practice in Myanmar for many children, some as young as four years old, to be sent from their villages into the city to receive an education. Some of the well-meaning people who had brought them to us had lied about the children’s background, in the hope that we would take them in. This troubled us greatly. Although these children could fi nd a ‘home’ in orphanages and receive food, education and shelter, they would have to grow up without the God-ordained bond and protection of their parents. As a result, many children grow up with emotional defi ciencies and long-term damage to their development. We listened to God’s heart and realised that we had only been ‘treating the symptoms’ of the problems but not addressing the root issues. By running our city orphanages, and keeping children apart from their parents, we were inadvertently contributing to the heart of the brokenness in this city! Convicted by God, we decided to release the children back to their families in 2006. But we continued to look after the orphans and the children with volatile and unsafe domestic situations in their families. Yangon’s Real Needs While we worked on making these changes in our orphanages, God connected us with a YWAM couple from Norway who were starting pre-primary and primary schools in remote, rural regions. These rural schools would allow the children to receive an education without being apart from their families! The couple had been working elsewhere for a few years but their ministry ended up re-joining YWAM in 2010. We partook in their work wholeheartedly, humbled that God had provided such a neat solution to one of the city’s problems. Following that, in 2011, God led YWAM Yangon to move to a new location. Initially, we did not understand why He led us here. But we soon realised that we were surrounded by growing slums, which were fi lled with huge numbers of the urban poor. God began speaking to different members of YWAM Yangon. The King’s Kids team started visiting slums and gathered large crowds of children, teaching them songs, telling them stories and simply refl ecting God’s love to them. After running weekly Sunday school type programmes for a few years, we pioneered a pre-school in June 2016 in one of the slums. In a shaky, simple bamboo hut, 15 to 18 desperately poor children attend the school. Through teachers who love and value them, these children are learning that they have been created in God’s image and are growing into their God-given capacities. As we slowly got to know the slum communities, we also felt God nudging us towards presenting the Gospel in more practical ways. Due to their meagre diet, most slum children are malnourished and protein-defi cient. When we prayed and explored how to help them, we came across ‘Soy Goat’ machines that produce nutritious, protein-rich soymilk. We started distributing this milk in 2016. This has created many opportunities to infl uence and disciple nearly 1500 children and their families. Many have responded positively to the call of their Heavenly Father! Yangon Moving Forward In order for God to bring holistic transformation to the city, He is leading us to help the people break out of disempowering life patterns. We are learning that rather than giving the poor handouts and only meeting their immediate needs, it is more effective to provide them with jobs so that they can regain a sense of ownership and dignity over their lives. At the moment, w e are building a workshop to produce cost-effi cient cooking stoves, and intend to hire slum dwellers to run this small business. Our hope is that they will be able to support their families, discover their God-given talents, and have their lives permanently changed for the better. Pray with us, that as we remain faithful to helping individuals and their families, we will see God’s welfare eventually transform the communities and the nation. 11