This Tuesday our River West team returned home from Myanmar with tired eyes and full hearts. While in country, our team was able to provide wellness checks and much needed medicine to over 200 boarding home students, parents, and leaders that partner with Pastor No Pum! By all measures, this trip was one of the most fun, fruitful mission trips I’ve had the privilege of leading. However, there’s one experience in particular where the Lord captured our hearts in an awesome, unexpected way.
Halfway into our trip, Pastor No Pum told us that he’d like to take us to visit and pray for a new church that was starting in a remote, rural community. In fact, this church plant was so off-the-beaten-path that it did not have a name. Instead, locals simply refer to the community as “13 mile” (based on the fact that it is 13 miles away from the nearest township). As our team arrived, a soft-spoken man named Simowei (Sim-o-way) led us down a narrow dirt path to a simple bamboo home with a cross. Like most Christian churches in Myanmar, this one met in Simowei’s home each Sunday to worship, pray, and open the scriptures. Altogether, the church is made up of 4 families. As we listened to prayer requests from these church leaders, our hearts were captured by the vision these young believers had for their community. Together, they believed God had given them a vision to demonstrate and declare the Gospel to a poor community with deep roots in Buddhism and Animism. Because the town does not have a well, they decided to name the church Living Water Church.
After linking hands together and offering up our prayers for one another, I noticed a guitar lying in the corner of the room. As we lifted up our praises together, the dusty floor beneath our feet felt like holy ground. Together, we were standing in a place where Christ was present. Later that evening, as our team arrived back at the hotel I was reminded of a vision the Lord gave the prophet Ezekiel in the Old Testament. It was a vision of a church with a river that flowed out from it:
And he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he led me back to the bank of the river. As I went back, I saw on the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. And he said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh. And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.”
Ezekiel 47:6-9, 12
What a beautiful picture of what a living church looks like! At River West, we believe the local church is God’s plan to bring the hope and healing of Christ to our broken world. In the weeks ahead, we’ll be sharing more about our church’s partnership with local churches and leaders in Myanmar. In the meantime, please lift up our brothers and sisters at Living Water Church!