FBR Report: Story of a Shan RangerShan State, Burma 13 September, 2012
This is one of a series of profiles and stories of FBR ethnic team leaders.
This is the story of many answers to prayer, and God’s working in one man’s life. Sai Nawng is married and his first child is on the way; he is the coordinator for all of FBR’s Shan teams. He first came to FBR in 2004, came back and became a team leader and soon was the coordinator for all the Shan teams. Sai Nawng is a joy to be around, always joking, and can make those around him laugh even across language and cultural barriers – he has brought his team on several headquarters missions in Karen State, for training, and is always ready to help with the children’s program, never failing to make the children – and all the mothers around – laugh. Sai Nawng is humble and willing to help with anything, equally ready to cook for everyone, write a report, translate, or whatever might be required. He leads the Shan teams like a family, working in some of the most difficult areas of Burma – areas both dangerous and physically challenging to get to.
Here is his story in his own words:
“Originally I was Buddhist and I was converted to a Christian in 2007. Why? Because a problem came into my life. I met missionary friend and he said to me that whenever you have a problem or disappointment you should pray to God. And I said I do not know where God is – but I did pray for a test and finally God answered my prayer so I learned that God also tests my faith.
When I became a new believer I was faced with many difficulties: my parents, my friends, my relatives, even my leaders started disliking me. They said, “Hey, why do you change your religion after being with strangers?” I honestly said to them that I chose my own way and personal belief. I was even rejected by some friends. They said, “Don’t come back here. We don’t have rice for you. we don’t have water to give.” My father was so sad for me.
One experience of this was in 2010 in Shan State while we were on a mission. After we arrived at the village it was even a miracle that God did not allow me to sit down peacefully but made me anxious so I surveyed the situation and checked the whole area. I did not know what would happen in the coming hours but I felt something, some worry, in my heart. Though I had no peace at that time, I had come to do the mission and trusted the villagers would take care of our safety.
At that time the Burmese soldiers were coming from another route. This wasn’t normal and what happened next wasn’t normal, but God touched my heart so that when I heard dogs barking I could sense that it was not normal at all and I wanted to find out what it was. I saw a Burmese soldier go across another trail. I could not see very clearly because it was almost dark so I was not sure he whether he was a villager or Burmese soldier and I asked the head of the village who that man was and he said it was just a villager returning from his fields. I prayed to see good things then I sat down and talked with the village head and after a while I heard the dogs barking again so I asked the village head again why the dogs were barking so strangely. He said, no, it’s not strange.
However I was sure it was not normal and I put on my shoes and looked out at the village and it was full of Burmese soldiers. This was not a good situation and so I put my computer equipment in my bag and unplugged all the chargers and wires but held them in my hands and went down from the house. My friend, Sai Yod, then said that we had forgotten something so I rushed back into the house and grabbed it. When we were out the door, the Burmese soldiers were coming into the village from every side. Then I prayed to God and said, “Help me Lord! I have many things in my hands, and wonder if something happens to me if I will still be able to help the villagers on my mission. I don’t want to die now.” I closed my eyes and prayed earnestly without paying attention to anything else. I saw the Lord in white clothes standing right in front of me and I went straight at Him. At that time the Burmese soldiers shot me in the back from about 2-3 meters away. While running the impact of the bullet and my running pushed me into a stream and I felt heat and burning on my back. I thought I was injured and I patted my back with my hand but the pain was from the computer equipment I carried that had stopped the bullet and shattered, burning my skin (I now still have the scar on my back).
As soon as I realized I had survived I said, thank you Lord. Because they were still firing with guns and heavy arms, I asked God to show me a way. I was energized by Him and avoided them firing at me and went around to the right side and about 10 minutes later as I reached the hillside I looked back to the village and it was full of Burmese soldiers. They were shining lights all over the village. I found myself completely safe. I kept praying as I walked on the way. I think God saved me again, as I had never been here and didn’t know the area. I prayed the whole night, and for my friend also because we were separated from each other. I was thinking very seriously and kept on praying all night long. The next day I found my team but my friend wasn’t there.
At about 3:00 PM that day, the village headman came to me and told me sadly, “One of your men was shot in the back and killed by the Burmese soldiers. He was shot twice in the back.” Afterwards, the Burmese soldiers had questioned the village headman about whether my friend was an insurgent; they said he was not because he didn’t have any weapons or ammunition. Finally the Burmese soldiers ordered the villagers not to tell anyone about the event or they would come back and kill the village headman.
I escaped and I said thank you to God. I realized that God really blessed me greatly. Since then I trust in him more and more. However, I feel very sad for my friend who was killed. He was the camera man and GLC leader. He was very quiet, patient, very cheerful and loved children. I feel sorry for the loss of his life, he was still young and I always think of him until today.” (See FBR story on the death of this team member: http://www.freeburmarangers.org/2010/09/29/shan-team-member-gives-his-life-for-love-and-for-freedom/)
Sai Nawng continues to lead his teams on difficult missions to some of the more volatile and unpredictable areas of Burma, and he continues to keep us laughing when we are with him. We thank God for his life and also for his spirit, and for the family that He gives us here on earth that is also eternal. Thank you for your support and encouragement of Sai Nawng and all of us.
God bless you,
The Free Burma Rangers