The Baldwin girls have gratefully returned safely to Massachusetts after over 36 hours of travel from Northern Thailand to New England. They will need your prayers and encouragement as they carve out a life in Falmouth over the next month, including starting new schools, securing cars, etc.
In the meantime, I remain in Northern Thailand a day away from heading north to a town on the B~rmese border. What is that all about? I'm glad you asked. Create International is entirely focused on reaching people around the world who have no significant Christian population. In missionary-speak, we call these peoples unreached people groups or UPG's. One of the largest UPG's today are the Sh*n people of Burm*. Our goal is two-fold. First we will create an evangelistic film designed to communicate the gospel to Sh*n people using the Sh*n language and culture. If you think that sounds tricky, you'd be right! However, this approach eliminates cultural barriers inherent when westerners attempt to introduce the gospel among Asians in Asia. In effect, this targeted media strategy will, for all intents and purposes, appear to be created in-house by Sh*n people. This breaks down barriers and increases gospel message effectiveness.
A Buddhist monk writes “I believe in
Jesus Christ. When will you come and
call us out from here? Please come as
soon as possible. I and all my villagers
here will follow.”
Secondly, we will be creating a mobilizing video that will introduce the Sh*n to Christians around the world so they can contribute to efforts to reach them through prayer and missions outreach. If this sounds like a major undertaking, you're right again. You'll get a chance to see this video when it's done sometime next year.
Who are the Sh*n? They are considered one of the great peoples of Southeast Asia and they dominate the Northern My*nm*r (AKA Burm*) state that bears their name. The Sh*n people are an Asian people who make their living traditionally as wet-rice cultivators, shopkeepers, and artisans. The name Si*m likely sprang from a mispronunciation of Sh*n. Their total population in Burm* is estimated at over 5 million and represents approximately 10% of B~rmese total population, not including a significant and growing population in Thailand that may be as high as 2 million. As confirmed by local experts, the Sh*n people article on Wikipedia does an excellent job of describing the issues the Sh*n face today.
Here is a compelling account of their current plight:
“The Sh*n have been engaged in an intermittent civil war within Burm* for decades...During conflicts, the Sh*n are often burned out of their villages and forced to flee into Th*iland. There, they are not given refugee status, and often work as undocumented labourers. Whether or not there is an ongoing conflict, the Sh*n are subject to depredations by the B~rmese regime; in particular, young men may be conscripted into the B~rmese Army indefinitely, or enslaved to do road work for a number of months—with no wages and no food. The horrific conditions inside Burm* have led to a massive exodus of young Sh*n males to neighbouring Th*iland, where they typically find low-paid work in construction. However unsatisfactory these conditions may be, all of these refugees are well aware that at least they are being paid for their work, and that every day spent in Th*iland is another day that the B~rmese regime cannot repress or enslave them.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sh*n_people
Provided by my colleague Wendy Hudson, the photos in this newsletter are of Sh*n construction workers and their families here in Thailand. Additional Sh*n issues include rampant drug trade because of the opium grown here in the Golden Tri*ngle, and sex trafficking of young Sh*n girls and boys.
Most Sh*n are strict Ther*vada Buddhists, and all Sh*n community life is centered around their religion. “Unlike most Buddhists who believe in karma, the Sh*n believe they are protected from evil by the spiritual power of Buddha idols and spirits.” This indicates a level of animistic tradition present in their worldview. They believe their lives are controlled by spirits and spend a lot of their religious activity trying to appease them. This sort of religious bondage is as pervasive as it is destructive.
Media alone will not be the only tool to introduce an entire people group like the Sh*n to the gospel. Nevertheless, an appropriate tool in the right hands as part of a concerted effort by caring Christians can break through cultural barriers to provide a consistent, clear and compelling account of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The goal of this production, therefore, is to create the tools that Christian workers among the Sh*n have requested for their ongoing evangelistic efforts.
Please join us in prayer for:
logistical concerns of finding appropriate locations and working in adverse shooting conditions
favor with the local authorities and decision-makers
identifying and hiring Sh*n cast members
breakthroughs in further deciphering Sh*n contextual metaphors
clarity in translation from English to Thai to Sh*n and back
unity for our team as we work long hours on a complicated project . . . in the heat!
safety (whereas we do not anticipate any problems from the My*nm*r government or military at this time, we must admit that the possibility exists)
for victory against the spiritual warfare we face daily on a project of such strategic significance.
In the end, God's love for the Sh*n will prevail and we look forward to contributing to a significant harvest of Sh*n believers for His glory. Accordingly, we would love to see a church fellowship planted in every major city and town throughout the Sh*n states in Burm* and Th*iland. God never does anything half way and neither should we, so let's go for it together in prayer!
Please remember Allyson, Samuel, Rachel and Abigail in your prayers as well. Specific prayer requests were mentioned in our last newsletter and they remain in effect today. I imagine that Allyson's building a temporary home on the Cape on a reduced income during our furlough is a bit like making bricks without straw. It's a good thing we know a God who historically handles those kind of problems for his people all the time. Contact Allyson directly through her Facebook page or allybaldwin5 at gm*il dot com
Photos by Wendy Hudson