Today Dr Simon took us some 80Kms in a northerly direction from the camp. We passed through a land of beautiful limestone crags, steep hills and rich valley farms. From time to time he said: “We are planting a church here.” or “We planted that church, a graduate of KKBBSC is the pastor.” This litany continued all the way.
Finally we arrived at a glorious valley deep amid the steepest and highest hills. There at the end of the valley, beyond the village and farms, stood a brand new, unused church. Three stories above it towers a huge white cross. It was the dream of Dr Simon’s wife, and he drew the plans. It is constructed of metal piping and clad in white painted sheet metal. There are rooms with magnificent views in each arm of the cross.
The new church and its cross will be dedicated on Feb 14th. But already there are dormitories for children of neighbouring villages, allowing them to attend the school. The elder was an Animist until his recent conversion, now he seeks to convert all the valley. Villagers in such a remote rural area have even less access to resources and education than some refugees, who may have relatives in good jobs in Thailand, Burma or Third Countries. So, access to education, like the cross, is a symbol that the good news of Christ has come to this remote valley.
Many such rural development and evangelistic efforts here, result from local initiatives, sometimes attracting outside support, rather than foreign “mission”.
Senior General Than Shwe and his clique seem determined to eradicate Karen nationalism, they may even desire genocide (think of their response to Cyclone Nargis, which affected mainly areas of the country where Karen comprise most of the population), they perhaps also hope to remove Christianity from Burma.
The Burmese Generals might perhaps eradicate Karen nationalism, though there is small sign of this yet. They will surely fail at genocide, as other evil men have failed before them. But they have already succeeded in planting vibrant evangelistic Christian churches all along this borderland. Gen 50:20 (the motto displayed at the jubilee in 2008) springs to mind.