Two board members from the Australian Mustard Seed Organization had the opportunity to visit Mustard Seed Orphanage earlier this year, which was an answer to prayer with the difficulties of traveling to Myanmar in the current political climate. They thank the Lord for providing and directing their entire visit, especially for allowing them to enter the country and keeping them safe while there. They shared observations and a brief update from the work there.
One major change to directly affect our orphanage centers is the government’s current withdrawal of direct education provision to older children in what would equate to our year 10 to 12 students. Instead, there is now a requirement for these schoolchildren to access all teaching online. This requirement, of course, is unrealistic for most children in Myanmar other than the most wealthy with access to the internet and the means to own laptops, etc. Consequently, the students are not receiving the education they require…For us at Mustard Seed, it provides another challenge whereby we see the need to provide our kids with the tools they need, such as computers, and a dedicated quiet studying place, such as a library.
Another issue discovered was the regularly low and inconsistent supply of electricity. On most days in Yangon, it was available for a few hours each day and at irregular intervals. It was worse at Ebenezer, where the power was off the entire day the guys were visiting.
While at the orphanage centers, the children were audited to check their current age, health, education level, English reading competence, plans and hopes for their future, and a general sense of well-being. It seems “children” may no longer generally be the appropriate term as, over the years, many of our once very young orphans have now blossomed into mature and sweet-natured teenagers and young adults. Many have stayed at MSO to continue their education at Hosanna Bible College. For others, it is a dilemma as the present environment does not offer good employment opportunities or safe accommodation elsewhere. This is a situation the board is well aware of and continuing to seek God’s wisdom and direction for solutions.
This trip was timely as the board members were able to attend the graduation ceremony of the 2022 Hosanna Bible College students. Hosanna Bible College is an outreach of Mustard Seed providing solid theological training to those seeking to further their knowledge of God or considering serving as pastors, teachers, and missionaries to their local communities….Both men were struck by the humbleness and gratitude from everyone that the two men had been willing to make the trip to see them, given the current environment and security risks.
An Excerpt from one of the men’s reports:
Thoughts? Our thoughts are full of praise to God for allowing us to again see these beautiful children so full of joy and to see that they continue to be well cared for, taught, and loved.
Yes, it’s clear from many that some things need to be addressed, and as a board, we will be keenly looking into these things. There is a need for a stable power supply as the constant outages affect all aspects of living, including the ability to study in the evenings. A library would be a great asset, and internet access for the older students is now necessary as they are now forced to resource their work this way. These are some of the issues the children and staff have mentioned.
But it must be said that these came as requests from our direct questions. There was no sense of demand or entitlement to such things. Quite the contrary, one of the most moving things was to hear the sincere thankfulness for all that Mustard Seed had done for them. Many were without hope of housing, clothing, food, and education – and they know it! – and they are sincerely thankful for the support so many unknown to them have provided from Australia.
Likewise, there is a sense of belonging amongst those who have either never known or have lost what they knew about family life. There is respect and love for older orphans from the younger ones, as the older ones show love and responsibility for their younger ‘siblings.’
Then not least, a point of praise is that these are being brought up in a Christian environment. They are being taught from the Bible, and they all speak of praying to God and of thankfulness to Him. Some seem to have a convincing testimony of having come to faith while at Mustard Seed, while others, perhaps a bit unclear, nevertheless appear to be heading the same way. For all these things, there is much to give thanks to God.
However, the situation in Myanmar remains volatile. People fear for their lives and livelihoods. Power and communications are randomly being cut. Prices are constantly increasing. Medical care is expensive. And of course, all these things affect the work at Mustard Seed, and there remains much to be done, from building maintenance to providing new resources because of changing conditions. The work goes on.
Give thanks to the Lord to protecting these men on their visit and for the obvious ways He has provided for and protected the children and staff at Mustard Seed. Pray for Him to continue to bless the work there by bringing more children to faith in Jesus and mature believers in Him. Pray also for Him to continue to provide for their needs, including technology for school, generators, and jobs and housing for graduates.