OUR HISTORY IN MYANMAR
The flag is ‘successfully planted’
In 1915, Adjutants Reuben and Annie Moss, missionary officers working in India, received orders to go to Burma to survey the land and raise money for India.
Soon after their visit, The War Cry reported that “…the flag has been ‘successfully planted’ and the countryside is ringing with news of The Salvation Army’s arrival.”
Adjutant Annie Moss gave an account of the visit: “On my arrival at Rangoon, I felt keenly the difficulties of the task which confronted me. A great fire, which destroyed 700 houses and rendered 12,000 people homeless, coincided with my arrival. Everywhere I went, people rushed to meet me with just one cry: “When is The Salvation Army coming to us?”
The people of Burma did not have to wait long as it was soon decided by Commissioner Booth-Tucker that operations should commence in the country.
Adjutant Reuben reported how he was handed a telegram from the then Salvation Army Leader of India saying: “You are appointed to open our work in Burma. Stop. Proceed on these lines. Stop. (1) Open women’s rescue home. (2) Juvenile Prisoner’s home (3) A Central Corps. SD. Booth Tucker, Commissioner.
Colonel Mrs. Blowers was appointed to install the pioneer officers.
A house was soon found which became a Women’s Social Institution – the first of its kind to be opened in Burma.
More Officers were soon appointed so that the good works that had begun in Burma, could continue.
The Army Advances
In the years that followed, The Salvation Army was on the frontline – setting up new Corps, working with women, operating various children’s homes, and helping citizens recover from the war. By 1961, there were 265 senior soldiers, 67 Junior Soldiers and attendance to public meetings rose from 655 to 921.
1966 saw a rehabilitation centre for conditionally charged prisoners established. The men were trained in carpentry and cane work – trades that provided a livelihood in Burma.
By 1980, Salvationists were able to greet the Salvation Army’s international leader for the first time – General Arnold Brown. The General toured Rangoon, commissioned two new officers and met with Salvationists.
Burma’s first training college for Salvation Army Officers began in 1985, although a lack of space, equipment and teaching personnel presented teething issues. Nevertheless, 16 Cadets began their training. There College for Officer Training, located in Yangon, continues today and enables the training future officers of the Salvation Army.
Reports from 1987 confirm that there were now 15 Corps and three care homes.
In 1994, Burma – now Myanmar, officially became part of the Singapore and Malaysia Command and the ‘Singapore, Malaysia and Myanmar Territory was born. Command Headquarters was located in Singapore where it remains today.
A visit from General and Mrs. Radar in 1997 saw 10 Salvation Army flags presented to Corps plants which were granted Corps status. 250 delegates travelled up to a week on foot, in boats, buses and trains to meet the leaders.
2005 saw 90th anniversary celebrations take place. 1000 Salvationists and friends from across Myanmar joined General and Commissioner Freda Larsson for a special Congress.
By 2012, five Day Care programmes provided care for over 150 children and 24 Corps tuition programmes provided study care for over 120 children. For many, this was the only form of education support they received.
General Andre Cox led celebrations for the 100th Anniversary of the region in 2015.
The work continues…
Today, the Myanmar region comes under the direction of a Regional Officer. Its five districts come under the direction and leadership of District Officers.
The five districts are: Kalay, Tamu, Matupi, Central and Southern (Yangon) Districts. The languages used in the ministries include Burmese, Mizo, Falam, Tedim, Hakha, Matu, Mindat, Kayin, Telegu, Tamil and Thado.
MEET OUR REGIONAL LEADERS:
(The present Regional Leaders Major Lalbiakdika, Regional Officer and Major Ngurthanchhingi, Regional Director of Women’s Ministries and Personnel Officer.)
Majors Lalbiakdika and Ngurthanchhingi were installed as Regional Leaders in Myanmar by Territorial Leaders Colonels Rodney and Wendy Walters in 2021. They were supported by Chief Secretary Lieut-Colonel Hary Harran and their four children.
Major Lalbiakdika grew up in a Christian family. His father was a steward in the Methodist Church in Pyin Taw Oo village, Sagaing Region, where he served for twelve years as a volunteer. After becoming a Salvationist, his father served God as Assistant Corps Sergeant Major and, later, Sergeant Major.
Major Lalbiakdika served God as a Sunday school teacher and Youth Leader in the Methodist Church. It was here he used his love of sports and his impressive skills in football!
Shortly after their wedding in 1996, Majors Lalbiakdika and Ngurthanchhingi opened a small shop. One day, Major Lalbiakdika’s father-in-law, and the Corps Officer at the Pyin Taw Oo Corps, encouraged him, saying, “God wants to give you a humble life to bring lost souls to Him.” Also, one of Major Lalbiakdika’s favorite Bible verses at that time was Joshua 24:15 “…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”.
The word of God and the challenge of his Corps Officer influenced Major Lalbiakdika to become an Officer of The Salvation Army. God ordained Majors Lalbiakdika and Ngurthanchhingi in this ministry, and they entered training together in the Bridge Builders Session in 2002.
Major Lalbiakdika says: “By the grace of God, I have been serving God’s mission for 18 years; as Corps Officer for four years, as the Regional Youth and Candidate Officer for three years, as District Officer for five years, as Regional Programme Officer for three years and as Regional Secretary and Human Resources for two years. I now serve as the Regional Officer in Myanmar for God’s mission.”
Major Ngurthanchhingi grew up in a Salvation Army family in Letpanchaung North Corps, Sagaing region. When she was 13 years old, she was converted and accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
Her parents were appointed to establish a new Corps, Pyin Taw Oo Corps, and the whole family moved to the village with joy and excitement to begin this new ministry; Major Ngurthanchhingi helped in any way she could.
As well as various appointments with her husband, Major Ngurthanchhingi has also served for three years as the Myanmar Regional Youth and Candidates Officer, five years as District Director of Women`s Ministries, five years as Regional Secretary for Women’s Ministries and is currently the Regional Director of Women’s Ministries and Personnel Officer in Myanmar.
Major Ngurthanchhingi’s favourite Bible verse is Psalm 73:28 “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.”
Majors Lalbiakdika and Ngurthanchhingi explain, “We thank God for winning souls and the new families we have welcomed in the Region. We pray for their spiritual journey and to become good disciples of Christ. We ask for prayers for our young people and for new hope in Christ – that God will open doors for His ministries in their lives. We also pray that the Myanmar Region will one day become financially self-supporting.”
NEW REGIONAL LEADERS INSTALLATION
Praise be to the Lord who has given us new Regional Leaders of The Salvation Army, Myanmar Region! The installation ceremony of new Regional Leaders of Myanmar Region, Major Lalbiakdika (Regional Officer) & Major Ngurthanchhingi (Regional Director of Women’s Ministries) was held on 30 June 2021 which was conducted by Colonel Rodney Walters (TC), Colonel Wendy Walters (TPWM) and Lieut. Colonel Hary Haran (CS) from THQ.
The new Regional Leaders have served in:
Central District, Taungoo – Corps Officer (2004- 2005)
Kalay District, Satawm – Corps Officer ( 2005 – 2008)
RHQ – Regional Youth and Candidate Officer ( 2008 – 2011) Maj Ngurthanchhingi Additional Southern District Telegu – Corps Officer ( 2010 – 2011) Tamu District – Tamu District Officer (2011 – 2013), Major Ngurthanchhingi additional appointment Khampat – Corps Officer (2012 – 2013)
Kalay District – Kalay District Officer (2013 – 2016)
Major Lalbiakdika – Regional Program Officer (2016 – April 2019), Regional Secretary and HR (May 2019 – 2021)
Major Ngurthanchhingi – Regional Secretary of Women’s Ministries (2016 – 2021)