by Laura Hokanson
“I don’t want to live anymore.”
“Thank you for your kindness to me. Now, I’m saying goodbye to you.”
With no time to lose, Dr. Htwe Lay, ASAP field supervisor in Myanmar, began searching for the boy. She finally discovered him at the local hospital, near death. He had ingested a deadly dose of rat poison in an effort to end his life. The doctors gave him only a 50% chance of recovery. Dr. Htwe Lay prayed with tears, “Dear Lord, he must not die, he must not die!” In the days that followed, she stayed by his side, ministering to his family and assisting with his medical care. “I prayed and cried,” she says. “I do not know why I cried so much. It is not my nature to be emotional like this. I think the change came some time ago when I decided to give my life to winning souls for Christ. Gradually, over time my heart has changed. I have become a more sympathetic person.”
God answered Dr. Htwe Lay’s prayer. Maung Kyaw (a pseudonym) made a full recovery, although he suffered a great deal, even developing aspiration pneumonia. After his release from the hospital, he came to the ASAP-supported Ahlin Medical Missionary Training Center, where Dr. Htwe Lay administered hydrotherapy treatments to assist his continued healing. Maung Kyaw’s devout Buddhist family were witnesses to the Christlike compassion she showed him. Later, she treated another member of this family, a Buddhist nun. Again, the family watched her minister with genuine compassion, natural remedies, and lifestyle education. Maung Kyaw gave his heart to Christ and was baptized. He is now involved in Bible study ministry. Although his father is a Buddhist monk, he has seen such a transformation in his son’s life that he does not resent Dr. Htwe Lay’s influence upon him. One day he called to thank her for all she had done for their family. “My son is in your hands,” he told her. “He is your son, just as he is mine.”
What is it that breaks down the barriers of religious prejudice such that a father like Maung Kyaw’s could say this? Dr. Htwe Lay believes the answer is love. In her medical missionary work, Dr. Htwe Lay sees the life-changing influence of love firsthand in the lives of people like Maung Kyaw. Many once resistant to Christianity are willing to hear the gospel after experiencing acts of compassion.
As an example, Dr. Htwe Lay points to the Immune Booster* drink, made at her clinic, that has become a bestseller. Patients return for it again and again. “But,” she says, “I really believe the Immune Booster for the soul is love, and our customers experience Jesus’ love in our small acts of kindness. Love heals. Love transforms. Love is everything. God is love. We must have the love of God first - we cannot find this love in the human heart. Only God’s love is true love.”
The Myanmar Union Mission and ASAP are dedicated to training more missionaries, like Dr. Htwe Lay, who are compelled by love to help others and lead them to Jesus. Two years ago, we launched a new project called Home Away From Home. This project offers Buddhist young people from impoverished rural areas the opportunity to complete their primary and secondary education at Myanmar Union Adventist Seminary. Rather than dormitories, the students live in homes where ASAP church planters nurture and share the gospel with them in a loving, family-like setting. They also learn manual labor and gardening skills and receive training in natural remedies. Last year, seven Home Away from Home students, including Maung Kyaw, publicly declared their desire to follow Jesus in baptism.
Their Buddhist upbringing gives these students unique cultural insight that helps them effectively share the gospel among those with a Buddhist worldview. After graduation, many of them will return home as the first Seventh-day Adventist missionaries to their unreached villages.
Due to the poverty-stricken areas from which they come, there is a great need to provide for these eager students’ tuition fees, as well as for staff stipends. The Home Away from Home project also operates an English language center, known in the community for its excellence in instruction. This generates some income for the project while, at the same time, meeting a felt need in the community. However, this income is not enough to sustain the project. ASAP is raising funds to construct a building to house the language center and a small store to help the project become self-sustaining. The new café-grocery style store will serve simple local fare and basic grocery needs, including Dr. Htwe Lay’s ever-popular Immune Booster.
When you support the Home Away From Home project, your gift of love becomes the healing catalyst to transform lives in ways we can only begin to imagine. ASAP Ministries invites you to join Dr. Htwe Lay in making love the central, compelling principle of your life. “Let all that you do be done with love” (1 Cor. 16:14). As you practice this principle, you can be certain the greater blessing will be yours.
*Recipe for Dr. Htwe Lay's Immune Booster
1. Juice garlic, ginger root, apple, and lemon individually to create equal portions of each ingredient.
2. Set aside an equal amount of honey.
3. Combine the juices and boil down the resulting mixture until two-thirds of it remains.
4. Remove from heat and let cool.
5. Stir in honey and drink.