Testimonies of Transformation

A Tale of Two Villages

In a valley of the Shan hills was a small village. The residents had lived there for generations, and as far as anyone could remember, things had always been the same. One day, a man came and gathered the whole village. He told them a wonderful story about a God who loved them and wanted to bless and help them. There was only one catch: He wanted to be their only God. They would not be able to follow their ancestral gods as well as the God who loved them. They deliberated all night about what to do. In the morning, they had their decision: half the village wanted to follow Jesus. The other half wanted to continue appeasing the spirits, just as they had done for centuries.

A few months later, there was a problem. The spirits told the villagers who were still worshipping them that they had to move. Jesus was too strong and the spirits were not able to continue in the village any more. So, half of the village moved about a 10 minute walk down the valley.

When I first visited the villages, I was intrigued. I first came to the “Christian Village”. The kids wore clothes, were clean and in school. Everyone was the proud owner of a toothbrush. Every house had an outhouse. Most of the houses had tidy yards with fruit trees and vegetable gardens. There was sense of peace and well being. The “Animist Village” was so different that I could not believe that only 2 years ago these had been one and the same. Before entering the village, we passed by the location where the pigs were offered to the spirits. Then we were met by dirty, naked children. The grandmas who were watching them had not seen a toothbrush recently, if ever. Pigs and dogs roamed everywhere, even through the houses. One house had a block of wood which was used a chopping board for meat, then the toddler came and sat on it, and then the dogs came and licked it. The men were all away, as they had gone to look for food.

The lessons I learned that day made a deep impression on me. I learned that the only real, lasting development comes through the gospel. The good news of Jesus, when embraced gives a whole world-view change. None of these villages had community workers among them, telling them what to change and how to live. The changes that came were purely a result of a change in values. Some of my friends would protest, saying that these villagers would be better off “untouched”. How dare anyone (be they of the same nationality or not) come in and try to change their ways, some would say. I would argue that anything which extends the life expectancy; improves the education level and betters the quality and quantity of nutrition is a good change. The fact that these changes came as a result of the gospel are just one more proof that God is so good. Of course he cares about our eternal destiny - He cares that a family in a village that is not even on the map has a sanitary place to go to the toilet.

"In the past I publicly mocked Christians, I really disliked them! Then I meet Jesus after a series of earthquakes in my wife's village. I was so changed; I wanted to know everything I could about who Jesus was. I had the opportunity to study the Bible using the inductive method three months after becoming a new believer. I drove hours to study together as a group, through the rainy season and down dusty village roads on my motorcycle every week for a year, after studying book by book through the whole Bible. God transformed my life in so many ways I can't explain it all now. It bought understanding and strength to my new found faith in Jesus Christ. I left my job as a Geologist to follow Jesus with my family and want to serve Him. I want to share the Gospel in the many small villages in the mountains regions of my country, that have never heard the good news of Jesus. And to teach them about God and how much He has changed my life." - AMW

"I had always been afraid of evil spirits (ghosts), and I never knew that God really loved me. I never felt loved growing up. During this year in which I have been studying the Bible, God has really changed my heart. I am not afraid now of the dark anymore. I know Jesus is with me and greater than any evil spirit. God revealed how much He loves me. God's love is helping me to love others, when before I had such a hard time loving other people." - YYTS

After studying the Bible and seeing how Jesus loved and served people, God changed my thinking. Before that, I only wanted to talk and have relationships with my ethnic group. Also, if anyone was 'higher' than me in status (like a leader) or 'lower' than me in status (like a poor person), I would not talk to them. Now I realize that because of Jesus, I am free and speak and can have a relationship with all people, no matter where they are from or what their social status is. - NSPH

Even though I was already a youth pastor, it was not until I finished studying the Bible inductively that I realized that the whole Bible is one big story. I finally understood God's story from Genesis to Revelation. I realized that God has a part for me to play as well in His story. Just like Moses, who taught his people about God, I want to teach my people about God. So many of my people do not know the living God. - SLL

Even though I grew up in the church and had already been a pastor for five years, it was not until I studied the Bible that God answered a question that had troubled me my whole life. When I was growing up, I always wondered, 'What is the difference between the animals and me?' When I studied Genesis, God answered my question! He showed me that people are special because we are created in the image of God. - Elizabeth

I don't want to be like Jonah who ran away from God and what God was calling him to do. I want to be like Ezra, who gave up his comforts and went back to a difficult situation in order to serve his people and to teach his people the Word of God. I want my people to know God's Word. I want to serve like Jesus does, even if they don't like me. - AK

When I studied the book of Philemon, the Holy Spirit deeply convicted me about the need for reconciliation in my own life. I cried and cried as I realized that I needed to make some relationships right in my life. When I went to those people and asked for their forgiveness, our relationships were restored. - NMK

I had a very close group of friends. We ate from the same rice bowl. But they hurt me and so I did not speak to them for five years. After studying the book of Philemon, God showed me that I needed to forgive them. - NHN

When I studied the book of Philemon, the Holy Spirit deeply convicted me about the need for reconciliation in my own life. I cried and cried as I realized that I needed to make some relationships right in my life. When I went to those people and asked for their forgiveness, our relationships were restored. - NMK

After studying the Bible, God changed my life so much that I wanted to follow Him. My big question was, 'If I follow God, who will support my family and me?' God provided for His people all through the Old and New Testaments in miraculous ways. I had already decided to follow God and was involved in ministry and began trusting God to provide for me. One day as I was going home, I needed money to catch the bus to my village. It was a day's journey back to my home. I didn't have all the money for my ticket. I felt that God ask me to look at the birds. I felt like God said that He provided more than the birds needed, so why didn't I trust Him? So then, I pulled out my wallet, and I had enough to pay for my tickets to my village and back again. Since then, God has continued to provide for me. God taught me that I can trust Him and that He is still the God of miracles - SAK

I know there are many people in my village who also wonder whether they will make it to heaven or not. This was always a big question for me. Through studying the Bible inductively, God showed me that because of what Jesus has done for me I will go to heaven. - Hannah