In this newsletter we would like to encourage you with brief testimonies from some of your Christian brothers and sisters whose existence you probably aren't aware of.
The Sqaw (or S'gaw) Karen tribe inhabits the mountains and jungle valleys of eastern Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). They have lived there for thousands of years and are thought to be the original inhabitants of the region. They are the largest of the Karen tribes, numbering over two million people.
The Lord has pursued the Karen people for a long time, and the first Christians among them came to faith in the 1800s. Today, there are many Sqaw Karen believers, but they have been isolated from the rest of the world, and decimated for the past 50 years by the brutal, evil Burmese military junta, who have killed hundreds of thousands of Karen people in one of the worst genocides in modern history. Often the Buddhist Burmese have attacked the Karen people for no other reason than the fact that many are Christians.
Over the years, Asia Harvest has helped provide more than 76,000 Bibles in the Sqaw Karen language through our Asian Bible Fund. These spiritually- hungry believers are greatly appreciative, and the Word of God had made a massive difference in the lives of many families decimated by war and hardship.
We would like to share testimonies and photos from several Sqaw Karen believers who have recently received the Word of God for the first time. As we share their stories, we invite you to pray for them, and please consider giving so that more Christians like will have free access to God's Word. We have more Bible printings in the pipeline right now, in 8 different languages. In Myanmar and other Asian countries the average cost per Bible is $2.70.
"My name is Samuel, and I have served as a pastor among my people since 1993. Long ago, when I went to Bible school, I had my own Bible, but during the war, Burmese soldiers came to our village and we had to run for our lives, leaving our possessions behind. Since that time, I have served the Lord without a Bible.
I later moved, but there wasn't a single Bible in the whole village. Three years later, the church was able to obtain one Bible, but it fell apart from overuse. The Word of God was so rare and precious that the believers decided no one could touch the Bible except me. It had to remain in the church and I could not take it home, for fear that I might lose it and they would again be without God's precious Word.
On January 1, 1999, we started asking the Lord to provide us with our own Bibles. For the past 21 years since that day, we have kept faith and trusted God. Once I went to our nation's capital and visited the Bible Society. I wept bitterly when I found they had just one Sqaw Karen Bible, but they wanted much more money for it than what we could afford.
Now, after your workers visited, our hearts are overwhelmed with joy and gratitude! Not only did you provide one Bible for every family in our village, but they were completely free! Hallelujah!
Just one month after your visit, our church members were studying their Bibles every day, and great changes came to our village. People are now full of the joy of the Lord, they have stopped smoking and drinking, and they love one another. When I walk through the village, I hear people reading God's Word aloud and singing praises. Our meetings have overflowed, and our church building cannot hold everyone. We have been so blessed by God that I feel like we now live in a heavenly village!
Thank you so much for the great and precious gifts you brought to us. You have put smiles on our faces, and we can now experience heavenly life. God bless you all abundantly!"
"My name is Naw and I am 67-years-old. When I was just two, my parents died in the jungle from snake bites. I was raised by my uncle and aunt, and seven times we had to abandon our village and flee into the jungle to avoid being bombed by the Burmese army.
Life was horrible because we were always running for our lives. I started primary school when I was 8, but because of all the commotion it took me 11 years before I finished. I might have set a world record for the longest time in primary school!
After I finished school, the army came again and burned every house in our village to the ground. We again had to run for our lives. My uncle died in this attack and I was very sad.
When I was 12 I had a Bible, but I lost it during that attack, and there was no way for me to get another copy. I had no income at all, and just staying alive was a struggle. Furthermore, I lived in a very remote village that seemed to be forgotten by not only the outside world, but even by other Karen people.
However, I hoped the Lord had not forgotten me, so I always prayed that He would let me own a Bible again before I died. Each time I prayed, I felt confident that He had heard my cry for help.
Then, after praying for 55 years and 6 months, God answered my prayers through your ministry! I asked God for a Bible, and you provided not only a Bible but it also has a hymnbook in the back, which is a great blessing. I have never been so happy and satisfied in all my life!
Every day I read His Word, and the love of God fills my heart. I am so thankful, but I also want to ask if you are aware that there are many thousands of Sqaw Karen people in the remote jungle areas who have no access to Bibles at all, and who are desperate to know the true and Living God.
Please remember them and do your best to take Bibles to them. God bless you more and more as you seek to quench the thirst of our poor Christian brothers and sisters."
"My name is Ti and I am 53-years-old. I have lived in this village since 1992. Before I came here, most of the time we were living in the jungle and running for our lives. We often had to move, and each time we lost all our possessions. We lost land, houses, relatives, friends, animals, and more.
My father once owned a Bible, but it was destroyed in the fighting. I desperately wanted to have a Bible again, but there was no way to get a copy. Even in my dreams I never imagined I would actually have a Bible again, even though I have been praying since 1992 for the Lord to give me one.
Now, after 28 years of prayer, God has given me my own Bible! It is the first time in my life I held my own copy of God's precious Word. Jesus is so good and worthy to be trusted and praised.
Over the years, other people who said they had Bible distribution ministries visited our village and took pictures, promising to return and give us free Bibles. Our hopes always went up, but they never returned. So, when we informed people in a nearby village that Bibles would be distributed for free, one per family, they didn't believe us, because something so amazing had never happened before.
Our heart-felt thanks to all of you for all your hard work, and for keeping your promise and giving us free Bibles. Thank you!
Please remember the hundreds of other Sqaw Karen villages in the mountains and valleys where Christians have never had a Bible in their entire lives. I would say that 97 percent of all Christians in the remote areas have never even seen a Bible. They have no money and there is nowhere to obtain a Bible anyway, even if they could afford one.
God bless you and your supporters. We will never forget what you have done for us."
"My name is Kar. I am 78-year-old. I was married and had nine children, but I am alone now, because all of my children died in the jungle in 1992 when we were forced to run for our lives from the Burmese military. My wife was killed by a bomb in 1993.
I don't have any living relatives, and I don't even know where the other people are from my village, as we all fled in different directions. My life is horrible, and I have lost everything. I feel my life is even worse than what Job experienced in the Bible.
I have always wanted to read the Bible in my language, but I have never been able to find one. Throughout my life I've frequently asked pastors and evangelists where I could get a Bible, but they always told me it was impossible. I decided to trust God, as I realized only He has the power to meet my need.
I started praying for a Bible in 1966 when I was 24-years-old. After praying for 54 years, God has answered my petitions! I have received your free Bible and hymnal, and I am so happy! Even though I only live in a simple thatch hut and am all alone, Jesus Christ has not forgotten me and He has encouraged me with His love! The Bible has become the most precious thing in my life. It is truly the living Word of God. Thanks to you all!"
The Christians highlighted in this newsletter are representative of countless thousands of others who have received life-changing Bibles through our two Bible projects. The China Bible Fund continues to strengthen and equip house church believers in China. Although the cost of printing a Bible changes monthly depending on the latest price of paper, exchange rate fluctuations, etc., we have set our price at just $1.80 each for a full Chinese Bible, and we cover the transportation and any other costs from non-project funds. This way, we guarantee that for every $1.80 sent to us for the project will result in a Bible being printed and delivered to the Chinese house churches.
The Asian Bible Fund continues to provide the Scriptures in languages like Sqaw Karen for an average of $2.70 per Bible. If you would like to provide God's Word to hungry believers like those in this newsletter, we invite you to fill out the enclosed yellow response form and send it back along with your gift. Alternatively, one-time or monthly donations to the project can be made via our website: www.asiaharvest.org