by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions
Revelation 7:9-10 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
Have you ever heard how the Karen people of Burma were prepared for the gospel? This unique people's history reveals how the Lord had sovereignly preserved, in their traditions, their yearning for the one true God.
For centuries, the Karen people rejected the teachings of Buddhism and spiritism and clung to their ancient understanding of the true God, whom they called "Y'wa", suggesting the influence of the Hebrew, "Yahweh". Karen traditions also point to Adam and Eve and their fall, in the garden of Eden. According to the tradition, because of transgressions, they fell from grace. An ancient poem powerfully expresses their hope and expectation of redemption:
"O children and grandchildren! If we repent of our sins, and cease to do evil–restraining our passions–and pray to Y'wa, he will have mercy on us again. If Y'wa does not have mercy on us, there is no other one who can. He who saves us is the only one – Y'wa."
Their stories relate how they negligently lost the ancient books of Y'wa, and were now anxiously awaiting the "white men", who would restore the ancient books to them.
Another Karen poem is virtually "prophetic":
"The sons of Y'wa, the white foreigners, obtained the words of Y'wa. The white foreigners, the children of Y'wa, obtained the words of Y'wa anciently."
In the late 1800's Christian missionaries arrived in Burma bringing the gospel of Jesus. Their message was overwhelmingly received ! Today a majority of the Karen people are believers, because God had prepared their hearts to receive the message over hundreds of years. The Karen waited expectantly for the "white man's" message of redemption from "Y'wa", and "Y'wa" proved faithful to reach and redeem these Burmese tribes, in His time.
As we continue to share the good news, let's remember that the Lord initiates the work of redemption — and that we need to stay focused on the job at hand, and continue to labor in the harvest fields. The seed we've planted in patience, will soon bear fruit; so let us not grow weary in well doing, for we shall reap if we faint not!