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February 2017 E-Newsletter
The Plight of IDP's in Myanmar

Dear Friend,

Imagine what it is like to lose your home and most your possessions overnight. Imagine being suddenly separated from your husband or father, and not knowing if you will ever see him alive again. Imagine being traumatized by what you've seen and experienced, but having no idea how to process the experience or find healing. Imagine what it might be like for a 22 year old to carry his partially paralyzed mother on his back for two days, without adequate food or water, just trying to reach safety. Imagine being dependent on the generosity of others just to eat and to have shelter, but knowing that there are 150,000 other people waiting in line with you.
I am not free to go into much more detail about what I saw and experienced while recently visiting Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps in Kachin State, in the northern part of Myanmar. There, the Kachin people have been fighting the Burmese military on and off for decades. The most recent cease fire with the military was broken in June 2011, and has completely upended the lives of so many. The consequences will stretch far beyond the current war. The conflict is complicated, and  I will not offer any analysis in print, but I can report that some 150,000 of the 400,000 Kachin living there are IDP's. Many are just surviving.Many feel hopeless.
A typical "kitchen" in the camps

98% of Kachin people are Christians, and fortunately many of the camps are located on the grounds of a church. These factors help provide stability, oversight, and spiritual nurture for these IDP's. Yet, so much more is needed. These people have been traumatized, many of whom can only think about how (and if) they are going to survive another day. Though foreign aid has been generous in the past couple of years, in one camp I visited the monthly allowance for each IDP is just over $6 (U.S.)! There is an ongoing need for better health care and counseling. While some children are attending school, many have no money for fees or opportunity to learn. Just think what their future is going to be as the years go by without basic education.
Praying with an elderly woman, slowly dying, in one of the IDP camps

I traveled to Kachin State to offer a special lecture at the Kachin Theological College and Seminary, but my real heart's desire was to visit the camps. So many of my students at Myanmar Institute of Theology (MIT) are Kachin. Their stories over the past five years have been deeply moving and disturbing. I wanted to see the situation for myself, for their sake, and to understand better the context from which many of my students are coming. I had no idea the impact my experience would have on me.
For the first week after returning, I couldn't speak of the camps without choking up. 

As an American citizen, Christian, teacher of many Kachin students at MIT, and future workshop leader for 100 or so Kachin pastors this fall, I came back wanting to do something. It will take some time to discern what kind of tangible help we can offer, but already I've met with the Southeast Asia Regional Director of the American Refugee Committee (whose headquarters are based in Minneapolis) and am exploring options for seeking grants from USAID. Please pray for God's wisdom and leading as we seek ways to help.
IDP children playing in the dirt without any toys

Please pray for my ministries in Yangon, too, as the bulk of my work here continues to be teaching 125 seminarians at MIT, offering special lectures at various schools, and coaching students and leaders.  I will be in Myanmar through March 15 to finish my three courses for the semester. Just after graduation, I will be offering an intensive, 30 hour, Doctor of Ministries class on The Spirit-Led Leader in just three days! This week, in the midst of everything else we're doing and working on, I'm also flying to Vietnam to conduct a three-day workshop for fifty pastors on Spirit-Led Living (Feb. 16-18).
Giving a special lecture at Tedim Christian College, Yangon
The need for Christian leadership development and support for suffering Christians here in Southeast Asia is huge. Thank God for the many dedicated Burmese Christian leaders working hard to further the kingdom of God in many beautiful ways in the midst of these challenges. We are privileged to serve with so many of them, and to be training hundreds of future leaders each year as well. Sometimes the needs seem overwhelming, but God keeps using us to make a difference in so many ways.
Grateful for your partnership,

Update on Jill's health
Jill continues to struggle in terms of healing completely from a serious concussion she suffered after falling off a 25 foot cliff in September. After much thought and prayer, she has had to cancel her plans to join Tim in Vietnam. We do not know yet if she will be able to travel to Myanmar, Cambodia, and Ukraine in March and April. Please continue to pray for the complete healing of her brain so that she can complete the book God has called her to write and resume her work with Faith, Hope, and Love for these special workshops this spring. We so appreciate your love and concern for her.


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Check out photos of our ministries in Myanmar on Facebook. 
Listen to Tim's  four week sermon series on "Crossing Bridges-Growing in Your Relationship with God," preached this past fall in Yangon, Myanmar.
See Tim Geoffrion's profile on LinkedIn or more postings on Facebook!