A fire burned inside Myo Zaw. It was lit the day the Lord redeemed him, and it grew hotter and more intense every single day. He was like the prophet Jeremiah, unable to keep the love of Christ hidden within himself. If he tried, he felt restless, he felt sick.
Weary of holding it in, Myo Zaw shouted from the roadsides and in market places, “Christ [redeemed] me, and He will [redeem] you also!”
People thought he had gone mad. Those in his community already knew him as a hot-blooded drunkard who fought with people and beat his wife and children, and now he proved his insanity.
“But I knew I was not mad,” Myo Zaw says. “The love of God just would not simply keep [quiet] in my heart. I wanted to pour it out and share it.”
Consumed by a fire that could not be put out, Myo Zaw traveled throughout his region, walking from place to place, sharing the Word of God. He told people “how a sinner like me was found by God.” In three years, he visited 100 communities. His wife, Shway, sent him letters while he was away to encourage him.
“If your life can change by Christ, there is no one who cannot be changed by Christ,” she’d say. “So wherever you are going and sharing the Word of God, we are here to pray for you. I believe people will be changed by the love of Christ.”
And people were—350 of them. They heard of His great love and saw it lived out in His child, and it changed them.
Following Like Jesus
Not long after, a man visited Myo Zaw’s village and shared about the different places in their country and how Jesus went to a foreign land, though heaven was His home.
The fire inside Myo Zaw intensified. He knew without any doubt that his life needed to be about sharing the Lord’s love with others. It was a powerful love that transformed him, and he knew others needed it, too.
He told himself, “It is better that I go and give my life for the people in foreign lands.” So he and his wife prayed and prepared themselves to live in an area where people were unfamiliar with the Lamb of God.
Nearly 10 years later, God sent them to the southern region of their country as GFA-supported missionaries.
Forced Out of Community
In their new community, people quickly realized Myo Zaw and his family were Christians and decided they would have nothing to do with the new arrivals.
“We were [forced] out of community,” Pastor Myo Zaw says, “and it is very difficult to live without community.”
People threw stones at Myo Zaw’s home and threatened to penalize others if they spoke to the Christians. Even Myo Zaw’s young children faced discrimination at school because of their faith.
“Sometimes, when we would go to the market,” Pastor Myo Zaw recalls, “they’d look at us as if we were enemies. All these things we faced, but the Lord showed His grace upon us through which we are still OK now.”
Turning of Hearts
Myo Zaw, Shway and their children trusted Christ throughout the hardships, and with the Spirit’s fiery love pulsating within them, they learned how to love the people in their new community.
The pastor started with film ministry, showing people movies they enjoyed and also the film of Jesus’ life. The local children felt Myo Zaw’s and his wife’s warmth and began visiting them. Myo Zaw and Shway would give the young boys and girls treats, teach them songs and bathe the ones that came looking haggard.
The community watched how they cared for their children and wondered why this man and his wife loved them so much. Soon, people talked to them at the market, and Pastor Myo Zaw and Shway were able to reveal Christ’s love to them.
They cared for the sick and took people to the hospital when needed. When floodwaters destroyed homes and livelihoods, they and other GFA-supported workers helped provide relief. Pastor Myo Zaw frequently visited people to encourage them and offer words of life and hope in Christ Jesus. And people visited him as well.
God’s Most Powerful Weapon
The fire God kindled within Myo Zaw on the first day of his redemption continues to burn brighter and hotter as the years pass.
“My love has become deeper for them. I care for them more,” he says of the people who are now his friends. “That’s why I don’t want to go back to my hometown. That is why I would like to sacrifice my whole life for them.”
After 14 years of displaying Christ’s love, people feel and understand Myo Zaw’s love for them and many return it. They’ve come to know that “everything I do is for them,” he says. And he does it because of Christ.
“What I have found in my life,” Myo Zaw says, “is that love is the most powerful weapon we have from God.”
The Galilee Boat
The river was busy. It was always busy during high tide. Boatmen competed with each other to ferry people and belongings from the market to villages and back. Some boats were so weighed down that the tops were only a few inches from the water’s surface.
This was the way of life for people living near the shores, where channels of water sliced through the ground and boats helped people get around from village to village.
But the Galilee Boat was different. It was just Pastor Myo Zaw and his disciple, Nyein Shein, on this boat. They traversed through the river together. Myo Zaw stood toward the front of the boat, a handwoven bag slung across his chest and packets of information about true hope in his left hand. Nyein Shein was at the stern, bending this way and that as he navigated the vessel through the murky waters, careful not to collide into other boats.
For Pastor Myo Zaw and Nyein Shein, traveling through the waters was less about getting around and more about meeting people.
“Galilee Boat is like a second life for us, which is very important for our [ministry],” Myo Zaw said.
The boat was a means to minister. It created opportunities for Pastor Myo Zaw to talk with fishermen or the men waiting to ferry people from the market. He’d also go to villages that could only be visited by boat.
Through the Galilee Boat, people who had never heard about the redemptive love of Christ could finally witness it. They’d see it in the life of the man who traveled in the boat just to see them, and they’d hear it in his voice when he’d speak words of life found in the Word of God. And something would happen inside their hearts. They believed that still, small voice that whispered to them, “I am the living God.”
Three fellowships and 16 other smaller fellowships grew in villages that Pastor Myo Zaw visited via the Galilee Boat.
The boat has become “famous,” Myo Zaw said. But not because it’s constantly traveling through the channels of water, looking to meet new people. It’s become famous because of the timely help it’s provided.
The region where Pastor Myo Zaw and Nyein Shein serve is known to flood during monsoon seasons. When it does, they use the Galilee Boat to bring relief supplies, like food and medicine, to stranded villagers and to rescue people by transferring them to safer regions.
“I believe God gave me this boat to help the community in the times of difficulties,” Myo Zaw said.
And that’s where you’ll find him and Nyein Shein, out on the Galilee Boat, navigating the busy river to help people in their community.