“We feel human again.” These words, shared by one of the women at the Tirzah Myanmar Leadership Conference in this February, describe the feelings of many in Myanmar given the changes in leadership that their nation has experienced.
How can a change in national leadership so deeply effect these women and their communities? Under the former military rule, there was a pastor who received regular threats from the military officers in his region. They would close down the church for two to three months and then services would slowly start back up again. This cycle repeated itself regularly. Once the new party came into power, the military officer in charge surprised the pastor by delivering him a large cake, along with the promise not to trouble the church again.
The women on Tirzah’s Myanmar leadership team have ministered together faithfully for the past 21 years. They led during the days when being a Christian meant facing persecution. And they continue to lead now, when doors are opening across the nation.
Tirzah Myanmar’s leadership conference was our first international gathering to be held outside of the capital city. For women who’d traveled to the capital for earlier conferences, this represented an exciting change where they welcomed leaders from across the globe into their own region.
Eighty-two women from eight different cities spent two full days together; praising God, praying for their nation and communities, enjoying each other’s company, and receiving Biblically-based leadership messages. Speakers included Tirzah leaders from four different nations across the globe. Women took detailed notes in preparation for sharing the messages with women in their own communities.
It was exciting to see that the women ranged in age from fifteen to over seventy. A group of fifteen- to seventeen-year-olds sat together, laughing, making peace signs, writing careful notes and taking everything in – the next generation of powerful Burmese women!
One group of women came from the city of Lashio. Representatives from this city had attended the Yangon leadership conference years ago and had been so excited about the ministry of Tirzah that they determined to start up a chapter in their own city. At the current conference a large group of women from Lashio attended – and they added to the celebration by wearing beautiful Tirzah uniforms that they had chosen!
Each time we are in Myanmar, we are moved by the capacity of these women leaders to live beautiful, courageous lives. God has been at work within them over many challenging years. The result is women who bear the fruit of godliness, kindness, humor, gentleness and a holy boldness that knows no barriers and that gives all to make Christ known.
I am extremely grateful for the chance to connect with these passionate, Christ-like leaders!