Chinese Church Voices

Ministering to Drug Addicts in Myanmar

Chinese Church Voices is an occasional column of the ChinaSource Blog providing translations of original writing by Christians in China. The views represented are entirely those of the original author; inclusion in Chinese Church Voices does not imply or equal an endorsement by ChinaSource.

The devastation of drug addiction has impacted people around the world, affecting addicts and their families. In this article from China Christian Daily, we learn of the impact of gospel-centered rehabilitation on one addict and his continuing ministry helping others out of addiction through the gospel.

Interview: Chinese Pastor Dedicated to Gospel-centered Detoxification Ministry in Myanmar Says Drug Addicts Must Abstain from Sin by Believing in Jesus

Growing up in Myanmar, Rev. L was unfortunately exposed to drugs as a teenager. He struggled between drug addiction and rehabilitation repeatedly for eight years. Almost to the point of desperation, he was treated and successfully abandoned his drug habit in a gospel drug rehabilitation center where he learned the Bible. After getting rid of drugs, he decided to open a gospel-centered detoxification center to help people like himself experience the power of the gospel.

He was baptized in 1998 and has been engaged in rehabilitation ministry through the gospel for 18 years beginning in 2004. He hopes that more people would know about gospel-centered detoxification ministry and would pray for and support this ministry.

In the 1960s, Rev. L’s parents went to Myanmar from Lincang, Yunnan province to make a living. At first, they lived in a rural area where poppy plants were grown and used. Everything in the area was related to drugs, which naturally led him to start using drugs when he was fifteen or sixteen years old.

“For the locals, taking drugs was the same as smoking; buying and selling drugs was no different than doing business in general. We weren’t aware that it was an illegal and criminal activity,” he said.

Later, L moved with his family from the countryside to the city. Previously he only smoked opium but that was not accessible in the city, so he learned to smoke heroin. As a result, he became addicted to it. “Being addicted to heroin was horrible: it was like being controlled by the devil,” he added. 

His elder sister, who was doing business outside of Myanmar, met a Christian man who had successfully recovered from drug addiction. Sharing her brother’s situation with the believer, she was told that he had successfully detoxed at a gospel drug treatment center called Operation Dawn in northern Thailand.

Arriving at the chapel after a bumpy journey, L was told by a treatment specialist that detoxification was not by medication but by relying on Jesus through reading the Bible and praying. He was very skeptical at the time since he had been an addict for eight years and he had tried many times to be rid of drugs through many different medications and doctors. But he decided to give it a try since he was there with no other way out.

With the care and help of the staff at the chapel, he personally experienced God’s healing. After one month and three days, he accepted the gospel. Through this experience, he came to understand that he could not quit drugs previously because he had adopted the wrong method. He realized, “The wrong method returns the wrong result.” Drug addiction was directly connected with sin. “Therefore, to stop using drugs, one must abstain from sin by believing in Jesus.”

After he was clean, he got the idea that he should respond to God by working with gospel-centered detoxification to help more souls who were desperate and suffering as he had been.

Completing a full session at the chapel, the pastor returned to Myanmar and enrolled in a local Chinese seminary, Burma Chinese Bible College, to receive theological education. After finishing the four-year studies, he sold his family’s ancestral house in his hometown, purchased a piece of land in Mujie County, and he officially began to engage in the detoxification ministry in 2004.

The gospel-centered drug rehabilitation ministry he founded is completely free for participants, with daily supplies provided through donations from churches and believers in various places. The staff and participants of the center also provide for themselves by engaging in some productive labor, such as farming and planting vegetables. In this way, the center slowly went into normal operation.

Physically, gospel-centered detoxification does not use medications. Participants gradually recover through increased metabolism resulting from daily regular work—about three hours’ work every day. Psychologically, participants benefit from counseling based on the truth of the Bible and feel the love and care of counselors who have their own personal experiences and serve as role models. Spiritually, participants study the Bible during four lessons every day at the center. The daily schedule consists of  studying the Bible for about four hours, working for another three hours, resting, and exercising. In addition, there are also opportunities for vocational training, in areas such as electric welding and carpentry.

Due to the epidemic, there are only 27 local Chinese participants and eight specialists at the center. “The specialists all have attended the three-year discipleship training after their successful detoxification at the center, and then they stay here to serve,” Rev. L explained.

Normally, after participants come to faith, the center gradually introduces them to the local church where the pastors can disciple them. The center keeps in touch with the local pastors so that counseling will be immediately applied once there are problems. “Or we call them back for some more treatment.”

“Actually, in terms of evangelism ministry, gospel-centered detoxification is the quickest and most effective way of preaching the gospel, because the whole family suffers if one member takes drugs, but the whole family is blessed if one member repents.”

“At the Gospel-Centered Detoxification Center, they experience the power of the gospel, feeling love from others. Though they cannot take medicine, they can receive encouragement, care, and prayers from us when they hurt. Most arrive here penniless. The drug addicts are admitted and helped, with their hearts changing because of love.”

“We are able to carry on because of God’s calling us to love this unlovable group,” Rev. L said. It turns out that this ministry generally encourages people with similar experiences to respond to God’s calling to do the ministry.  “Without similar experiences, there is no way to understand thepeculiar behavior of drug addicts.”

The operation of the center mainly relies on the offerings and support of churches and believers. However, because of the pandemic and the war in Myanmar, the overall situation is very difficult. When talking about this issue, Rev. L smiled, saying, “Even though the situation is not good, we just need to be more economical, slowly going on like this. Just like the Israelites who had to pick up manna every morning in the wilderness, we also look to God to meet our needs at every moment.” He believes that God prepared what they needed. “God is Jehovah Jireh meaning ‘the Lord will provide.'”

Now in southern Myanmar, Rev. L is leading his church staff to set up another detoxification through the gospel center. “In fact, the whole of Myanmar is in need of gospel-centered drug rehabilitation ministry. Yet, it is difficult to find such workers.” He has concluded that doing this ministry requires living a simple life, which is found in the Bible: “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” (1 Timothy 6:8)

Original Article: “Interview: Chinese Pastor Dedicated to Gospel-centered Detoxification Ministry in Myanmar Says Drug Addicts Must Abstain from Sin by Believing in Jesus,” China Christian Daily.
Edited and reposted with permission.

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Image credit: China Christian Daily.
ChinaSource Team

ChinaSource Team

Written, translated, or edited by members of the ChinaSource staff.          View Full Bio

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