International news headlines from the last month tell a harrowing story of the situation unfolding in Myanmar. A military coup on February 1 is the latest chapter in a long, grim fight for peace in the nation of 54 million.
The southeast Asian country, also known as Burma, is in the midst of a violent military uprising. In 1948, Burma was one of many underdeveloped nations freed from colonial rule in the mid-20th century. But the optimistic promise of independence dimmed as violent military rule and ethno-centric conflicts dominated the nation for decades to come. The last fifteen years saw slow but encouraging progress toward democracy, but corruption and persecution of religious minorities continued to plague the nation even before the 2021 siege.
Myanmar’s current struggle is an ever-present theme: This is a nation in desperate need of justice. And that is where Haggai leader Emerald Saw Minn wants to make a difference.
Emerald Saw Minn lives in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, and serves as the Director of Operations for the International Justice Mission (IJM) in Myanmar. IJM is a multinational relief organization dedicated to ending human trafficking and championing human rights across the globe. For Emerald, this means serving the most vulnerable in the poorest communities of the country. She believes justice and ministry begin by meeting urgent needs for the most marginalized.
According to IJM’s website, it is the migrant workers in these minority communities who are most vulnerable to human rights abuses and trafficking. An IJM study in 2016 found that nearly a third of the day laborers in the fishing industry had been trafficked or forced into indentured servitude. When the pandemic brought new financial difficulties to this struggling group, Emerald and her church stepped in to help.
“The pandemic pushed the community into difficult circumstances as providers lost their daily income due to lockdown. Our church created a plan named ‘3G’ (Go, Give, Gospel). During these difficult circumstances, no one can deny a guest who brings food to their home. We purchased rice, cooking oil, and vegetables for the needy community. Everyone who receives food assistance also hears a Gospel presentation. By early 2021, 10 people had already been baptized, and another five newcomers had accepted Christ.”
Even in the remote regions of Myanmar, Naw Emerald San Minn is taking the Gospel to the people.
The progress Emerald sees in Yangon will not make any headlines as violence overtakes the country, but her work illustrates an important truth: even in the darkest of circumstances and most dangerous places, Haggai leaders are still sharing the love of Jesus Christ. And Emerald credits the Haggai Leader Experience with inspiring her to tackle Gospel poverty in this way.
“I attended the HLE and came to understand the Gospel mandate for all believers to play a role in ending Gospel poverty. Justice is missing for the whole country of Myanmar. We believe in Jesus, and He is the only way for us to bring justice back to our land.”