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Don Richardson, in his book Eternity in Their Hearts, tells an amazing story of spiritual harvest. In an area once called Burma, which is now modern Myanmar, lying between China and Thailand, and touching the border of Laos, there lived about a quarter-million tribal people called the Lahu. For many centuries, the Lahu had a tradition which said that the Creator of all things whom they called Gui’Sha — had given their forefathers his law written on rice cakes! But a famine came, and the forefathers ate the rice cakes for their physical survival. The elders defended their actions by saying that Gui’Sha’s law was now inside them! But the Lahu could not know and obey their Creator perfectly until he would again give them his written laws. The Lahu people had prophets of Gui’Sha, whose mission it was to keep the expectation of help from the Creator constantly alive in the hearts of the people. And so the prophets would teach the people with proverbs like the one which said, “If a man had ten armloads of walking sticks and walked until every walking stick was worn to a stub, he would still not find Gui’Sha [the true God], but when the right time comes, Gui’Sha will send to us a white bother with a white book containing his laws — the word lost by our forefathers so long ago. That white brother will bring the lost book to our very homes!”


Some Lahu even wore cords around their wrists symbolizing their need for a divinely appointed deliverer who would one day cut those cords from their wrists! In the 1890s, a young missionary named William Marfus Young, was appointed to take the gospel to the Shan people in the eastern extremity of Burma. He established a base in Keng Tung city, capital of the Shan region. One day Young went to the marketplace and was preaching among the Shan people, most of whom were Buddhists. He read the Ten Commandments from the Bible. Then holding his Bible aloft — with the sun gleaming on its white pages — he began to preach about the laws of the True God. As he preached, he noticed some men coming toward him out of the throng in the market. He could tell by their dress they were not Shan people. Later he discovered that they were Lahu men who had decided that day to come down from the far mountains to trade in the market of Keng Tung. They completely surrounded William Young and stared incredulously at his white face, the white interior of the book in his hand, and listened to his description of the laws of God contained in that Book.


When he had finished they pleaded with the missionary to follow them up into the mountains. They said, “We have been waiting for you for centuries. We even have meeting houses built in some of our villages in readiness for your coming.” They showed him the bracelets of coarse rope hanging like manacles from their wrists that their people had worn for many generations. The ropes symbolized their bondage to evil spirits as a result of not having God’s Word. They said, “You alone, as the messenger of God, may cut these manacles from our wrists — but only after you have brought the book of the true God to our very homes.” Young could not believe what was happening, but he went and many of the Lahu people became Christians. In 1904, Young and others baptized 2,200 Lahu converts who had learned the basics of the Christian faith. From then until 1936, when he died, still working among the Lahu, he saw at least 2,000 Lahu give their lives to Christ every year.


As a sidelight to this story, we received a letter this week from Myanmar. They came across the web site for the Prayer Box ministry. They became excited about the possibilities and students at a Bible school in Myanmar, some of whom may be the spiritual grandchildren of the first Lahu Christians, are making prayer boxes in their language to place around the capitol city of Myanmar. What God can do with one simple seed!


God is sowing the seed. The seed will continue to grow. All it takes is a simple and humble heart that is willing to hear and receive it. Hosea the prophet said, “[You] must plow, and. . . break up the ground. Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you” (Hosea 10:11-12).

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