If the news of Coronavirus and chaos in our streets has you down, consider this—you could be a Kachin.
On July 2, over 160 people in Kachin State in Myanmar were killed when a 200-foot-tall mountain of mud taken from the local jade mine gave way and buried them alive.
Why were they there taking such unimaginable risk when they knew that these landslides happen regularly? The reason is that they were desperately poor people who spent their days digging through the leftover mud from the mines to find enough slivers of jade to survive another day.
This has made the news, but I’m sure it will quickly be forgotten in the western world. And few Christians will even know that many of those killed were their brothers.
Almost no Kachin knew Jesus until the great missionary Adoniram Judson brought the gospel to them in the nineteenth century. Some estimates are that as many as 95% of Kachins are now Christian!
And now many Kachins live in unimaginable poverty and persecution. Their churches are often burned. War has become a normal part of life. Most Kachins live in a daily landslide of hopelessness.
Why Should We Care?
Why am I taking time to write about this? Why should you care, with everything else going on in your life today?
As I continue to watch the development of the Christian response to COVID-19, new concerns are nagging at my heart. They are concerns I don’t hear many people talking about, and sometimes I wonder if I’m missing something.
Has the church in America become so spiritually weak that the only question that matters to us is when we can get back to our normal, comfortable lives?
Would you consider these questions?
How would new lockdowns affect the poorest people in the world?
Jesus made it very clear that we are to care for the poor if we want to follow Him. Many of the global poor, like the Kachins, are also our brothers and sisters.
Like them, many are living in the most desperate conditions imaginable, even without a global pandemic. Do consistent predictions of global famine and massive deaths among the poorest in the world, resulting from lockdowns, concern us as Christians, or is our only concern how to protect ourselves right here in America?
Has the American church forgotten the Great Commission?
As we restart churches, as we respond to the pandemic, as we engage with those who are angry and even rioting, is our FIRST priority to reach them with the love of Jesus? Or is it to argue our position, to ensure our way of life, to protect ourselves?
If we don’t care (desperately care) about the broken hearts of our neighbors, maybe it should not be surprising if we pay little attention to 160 dead Kachins so far away …
Has the American church forgotten about our missionaries?
I am not hearing a lot of talk right now among Christians about what our missionaries might need. Many of them have been in unimaginable quarantine conditions overseas and are lonely and uncertain about the future, while still seeking to bring the gospel to those Jesus loves.
Have you prayed for them? How could you encourage a missionary today?
There are many kinds of landslides happening around the world today. And our missionaries are sometimes the only Jesus followers who are there to dig people out. Don’t leave them there alone.
Making Decisions in Hard Times
These are hard times. I find that making decisions as a leader at Life Action or even just in my own life and family has never been more difficult. But in reshaping my own life and helping others to do the same, I find my clearest direction in times like this from the marching orders of Jesus.
He said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24 ESV). No exceptions made for global pandemics.
So, as for me and my house, we’re not interested in a lockdown lifestyle. We can’t fulfill our mission just hunkering in our basement! We will put on a mask or do whatever is necessary, of course; but we must follow Jesus, and He is not quarantined.
Jesus also had this dialog:
“Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’” (Matthew 25:37-40).
Ministering to Jesus
So in these days, in the best way I know how, I want to live my life and lead my family and Life Action to minister to Jesus by ministering to others. That means that most of our ministry won’t happen on zoom calls or from behind computer screens.
And it means that I have to daily plead with the Lord to wreck my flesh and fill me with His Spirit, so everything doesn’t center on me. So I care about those He cares for. So what matters to Him matters most to me.
I can’t help but believe that Jesus is coming very soon! How will He find us when He comes? I am desperately praying for the kind of revival in the American church in this day that compels us to join Jesus on His mission of love.
And that’s why what happens to people like the Kachins should matter to you, and to all who desire to truly follow Jesus in these days.