Celebration of Love and New Life: Seven Baptisms and a Wedding at FBR Training Camp
15 January 2024
Karen State, Burma
On the last day of 2023, a Sunday, we thanked God together with seven young men who had recently re-dedicated their lives to Jesus and asked to be baptized at our camp following this year’s Free Burma Ranger (FBR) training. We also celebrated the wedding of two FBR leaders, Aung Zaya and Lin, who asked to be married here at our training camp the day before graduation.
Aung Zaya and Lin met each other at university before the 2021 coup d’etat. After the coup, they joined the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) but, once the Burma Army began killing people in the streets, they fled to the jungle to help as they could. They initially started a media service to shine a light on what was happening, to encourage people, and to coordinate relief. FBR met them on the battlefield in Karenni State in 2022 and became friends. Aung Zaya is an engineering graduate and is brilliant. He decided he wanted to be a Ranger after working with our teams in the field. Last year he attended FBR training and graduated as one of the top Rangers. He went back to the battlefield and he became an area leader in Karenni, where his life-saving, brave work and reporting skills have inspired everyone. Meanwhile Lin was helping to run the administration of their media program as well as supporting the Rangers and other relief organizations. They were in love and decided to get married, asking to be married in FBR camp, even though it meant a risky and long journey to get there. What a joy it was to be part of that wedding.
We also shared great joy with the seven men who asked to be baptized. They are from both Karen and Karenni ethnic groups, and, as is familiar to young men and women in many cultures, had been raised in Christian families but only recently chosen to follow Jesus for themselves. Two of the Rangers, Saw DeeDe and Saw Christ Htoo, thanked God for rescuing them from death during attacks in Karenni State, and kept their promise to be baptized upon their return. Saw Christ Htoo had recovered from three back wounds from an airstrike this past July. God also answered Saw Nay Htet Lin’s prayer to be able to join FBR’s Jungle School of Medicine (JSMK), after he heard many testimonies about asking God for your needs and watching Him “open the way,” and “praying with faith,” according to the Ranger motto. He is now in his second year as a JSMK student and also wanted to keep his promise of being baptized in gratitude to God’s faithfulness.
The discipleship of daily morning devotions was significant to all the men, and especially Saw Wai Htoo, who shared how he came back to his faith after a time far from the church, convicted and encouraged by the spiritual foundation of the FBR motto. Saw Nyein Chan and Saw Nay Oo Lwin were grateful for the opportunity to grow in their faith during the two months at FBR training and be given a chance to be baptized here as well. A very special moment was when the son of K’Paw Say (Monkey), a senior leader and one of the first Rangers and chaplains, surprised even his father with his decision to be baptized. Saw P’lay Lae Ku, Monkey’s son, said, “I knew I was far from the perfect Christian my mother taught about in Sunday School, but I realized that instead of striving on my own, I needed to ask for Jesus’s help and He would change me in his way. I’m thankful by coming to camp I’ve been able to understand my faith more.”
We are thankful with these men, for Jesus’s living presence in their hearts, and for all this year who invested in morning devotions to give the greatest message of new life to the Rangers at our FBR training.
Thanks and God bless you,
Dave, family and FBR