Mystifying Myanmar: Finding peace amid turmoil in this unfamiliar country
Join guest Mark Estes for a glimpse into the mountains and villages of Myanmar, a mysterious land where citizens have struggled for decades to find freedom and peace.
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How much do you know about Myanmar? Join guest Mark Estes for a virtual journey into the mountains and rural villages of this fascinating southeast Asian country. With 135 different distinct ethnic tribal groups, and a landscape dotted with Buddhist temples, Myanmar’s mystifying culture has been shaken by decades of political unrest, conflict, and poverty. Hear how God is moving in the midst of turmoil and people are finding the peace and hope they’ve long searched for.
Mystifying Myanmar: Finding peace amid turmoil in this unfamiliar country
Cathy: Welcome to The End of the Road podcast. My name is Cathy, and I'm your host and tour guide as we journey together to some of the most remote, challenging places on the planet. I'm so excited to have you along for the ride. So buckle up, we're going to the end of the road.
Our guest today is Mark Estes. Mark is World Concern's Asia area director. He and I have worked together for more than a decade. He's a great guy from the remote land of Tennessee, and I'm excited to have Mark on the podcast today. Welcome, Mark. Thanks for joining us.
Mark Estes: Hi, Cathy, and greetings from the remoteness of the beautiful Eastern Tennessee.
Cathy: Awesome. Great to have you here. So we're going to be talking about the country of Myanmar today. This is a place I've wanted to talk about on the podcast for a while. Myanmar is a bit of a mystery to many of us, I'd assume, and so I'm excited to have Mark, who's been there several times, I'm excited to have him take us on kind of a virtual journey to this land that's known for its temples, its beautiful landscape and environment, and also a really interesting history of political unrest and a struggle for democracy. So Myanmar was formally known as Burma, which might be a more familiar name to some of you. It's a country in Southeast Asia. It shares borders with Thailand, a bit of Laos, China, and Bangladesh.
So, Mark, just start by describing for us what stands out to you when you think about Myanmar. You've been there numerous times, you've seen the different regions, the different states. How would you describe it as a place and the people and the culture there? What's it like?
Mark Estes: Yeah, so let's start with place because I'm from the beautiful hills of Tennessee. So one of the things that I really love about Myanmar is the diversity of geography there. So from the far north, you actually have the Himalayas. Think about Mount Everest, snow-capped mountains in the far north. It's where the Himalayas actually sort to trail out on the eastern end. And then in the middle section you've got the plains and the rolling hills, and then you've got some of the most beautiful coastlands down in the southern part where Myanmar borders Thailand. So you've got three or four or five probably distinct geographies and topographies there, and that influences farming and livelihoods and what people do.
And then there's the people. Southeast Asia, the countries there, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos have so much in common about all these different people groups, but if you think about Myanmar, there's 135 different distinct ethnic tribal groups. Now, this is not like me and you, in my Southern drawl speaking Southern East and you speaking Pacific Northwest. These are people groups that have a distinctly different language. They have distinctly different cultures and norms and morays and values, similar and different religions, distinct different dress, traditional dress that they wear. And you got into a little bit about the history of conflict and violence there, and that's where a lot of that goes back to. But it's just a very beautiful place, and over the past 10 years, it seen so much hope that's come into the country and so much great development work that's happened. And unfortunately, in the past couple of years, a lot of that has been somewhat destroyed, and that's really sad to think about that, Cathy.
Cathy: Mm-hmm. Wow, that's a great description. Such diversity there with so many different people groups. I imagine as they interact with one another and stuff, there are so many unique things about all these different cultures that sort of come together in this one country. You mentioned the coastline, beautiful coastline there. A lot of people know what... Maybe they've been to Thailand or they've seen pictures of the beaches in Thailand, and they're absolutely beautiful. So that same coastline just continues on into Myanmar, and so I imagine it looks very much like that. So also puts Myanmar at risk probably of cyclones and typhoons and storms and stuff. I know Cyclone Nargis hit there, I think it was 2009, maybe.
Mark Estes: 2008.
Cathy: 2008, yeah, and did a lot of damage there. So there's that vulnerability there. But I imagine too in the rural areas, there's probably quite a bit of poverty in those rural communities.
Mark Estes: Yeah, there is. So it varies from place to place, but everything now has been shaped so much by the recent conflict when the military took over in February 2021. And especially in the areas up in the north where we happen to work, World Concern's been there for 30, 40 years, and it's not that there's just been a recent struggle politically because of the military coup, it's because for generations, these people groups, many of them have been fighting for independence, either from competing groups within a similar geography or states, Myanmar has states, there's 17 states, and that there are also competing for autonomy within the overall federal government and looking for more of a model where they could be independent or somewhat more federated there.
So the poverty has been so shaped by that because people... There are ebbs and flows of conflict, so people, when there's peace, they can stay at home, they can manage their gardens, they can buy and sell easily going to the marketplaces, they can get their kids to school, they can go to the health clinic when they're sick. But when there's conflict, all of that changes, Cathy. They have to leave, they have to flee to safety. And in some places, that might be going to a local church or a temple or a community center that's far away or far away enough from the conflict that they feel confident that they're safe and their families are safe, but yet still close enough to them, because even during the conflict, there are times and days that there's peaceful days and they're able to go back to their farms and gather food, but they'll come back to the place of refuge, wherever that might be.
So you see all different kinds of poverty ebbing and flowing, from physical poverty to health, to water poverty and livelihood and food insecurity and all those things that affect people from a multidimensional aspect.
Cathy: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Interesting. So you mentioned farming. Is that kind of the primary livelihood there? What else do families do there to earn income and support themselves?
Mark Estes: Yeah, by and large, farming would represent a big, big portion of the GNP. And for the people that we are targeting to work with in the lower income range at or below poverty level, farming would definitely be their main source of sustenance as well as daily income. Yeah. And that would be true from the mountainous areas all the way down to the coastal areas and just different adaptations of agriculture and even aquaculture in some of the areas where there's rivers and streams, or many families are creating fish ponds and growing species like tilapia that are easy to farm. So it's quite a bit of diversity there, but it's been a real challenge to try to do that, to have your farming as a livelihood when there's armed conflict going on around in communities.
Cathy: Yeah, you were kind of describing that, and so these conflicts, it sounds like can be sort of localized, smaller ethnic clashes, maybe armed rebel groups that are coming into villages and trying to take control of that area, things like that. And so people have to flee, they have to leave their only livelihood, which is farm land, and go to a safe place, which might be a camp for families that have had to flee their homes. It might be another community that they don't belong to or that they're not necessarily a part of, and so lots of challenge there. But what are some of the other challenges that the people of Myanmar face on a regular basis? What makes life particularly challenging in this country?
Mark Estes: On a recent trip last month, Cathy, in early October, the thing that stood out for me was... You had just mentioned that people flee because of insecurity, right? The armed conflict, the disputes, the fighting comes into the community, people flee to be safe. But getting on a more personal level, people also flee because they want to protect their kids and their youth. Why? Because one of the reasons that armed groups come into the community might not always be to fight, but it's where they recruit from.
So as this conflict continues and now that the military's in charge, it's just been expanding. And the armed groups, unfortunately, they're still sort of fighting their own battles and not working together against the main enemy, if you will, but they are looking to increase their numbers. And with older males being the primary line of defense in most of these arm groups, the ages that they're trying to recruit now are getting younger and younger and younger. So it's gone from young adults to older teens to mid teens. And it's not just guys that are being recruited, not just males, but they're also targeting females.
And so talk to so many families and so many of our church partners that just shared story after story of just the challenges and the fear that people live in, that it's not just about fighting breaking out in my villages, it's those representatives from the armed groups coming in and knocking on my door and saying, "I need your son, I need your daughter, and unless you can pay me so much money, then they're going with me." And then that gets into a whole other conversation, Cathy, about the trauma, the psychosocial abuse when you put a child onto the front line.
I ask one of our pastor partners, I said, "What's the criteria that the armed groups have?" I said, "Is there no soul in the people at all? I mean, is it age limit? Is it..." No, it's if they can pick up a weapon, then they're recruitable. So if they can pick up a gun, if they can hold a pistol, if they can hold a rifle, they're in the fair recruiting grounds. And so that puts early teens and even kids that are eight, nine, 10 years old at risk. I didn't hear any stories of kids that young, but like 14-year-olds. And I've got a son and daughter that are young teenagers, and it just broke my heart to try to empathize or sympathize with what these families must be experiencing of living in fear like that.
Even though they're in a safe place, they've sought refuge with some of our partners to be away from all this. Just to think about lying awake at night, and the question, what if I go back? What if they find me and they're after my young daughter, they're after my young son? How do you live with that? That's a tough one, Cathy.
Cathy: Yeah. Wow. So we're talking really child soldiers here.
Mark Estes: Absolutely.
Cathy: These kids are being recruited as armed child soldiers, and you mentioned just the trauma that can happen from that. I imagine that they're threatened to stay and fight and be a part of these groups, and if they were to think about leaving or fleeing that, their families are probably threatened. And just that kind of psychological trauma plus the violence and witnessing death and fighting and all those things as a child would be absolutely horrifying. And you were mentioning your kids and feeling that heartbreak and just thinking about how much time and energy we put into protecting our kids from far less dangerous things, making sure they have the right car seat when they're little and all these things to keep them safe, and just imagining if that was the kind of reality that you're raising your kids in, just how traumatic that must be for families.
Mark Estes: Right. And what I also heard was happening, Cathy, is that many of the families and our partners were saying that the only way that you could protect your children from being recruited was if you had enough money to somewhat pay them off, a fee that they would say, "Okay, this will go to provide..." They can buy guns and ammunition and things with it, so you're exempt. But that exemption is not permanent. So there's always the threat that in a few months they'll come back around knocking on your door again.
And so what I heard from a lot of families who had the resources or were trying to find the resources is trying to get their kids across the border to Thailand, to send them into the jungles. Sometimes with an extended family member, sometimes perhaps with someone who says, "Okay, I'm going to take a group over tonight." And to pack them up, to look them in the eye and to say goodbye, and to hope that one day you'll be reunited with them. But once they step out of there, what happens? Do they get across? Because I know that border is carefully guarded on both sides, but primarily on the Thai sides because they're not letting refugees come across.
And so there's just these large camps along the border, and some of them are fairly well protected and they're receiving humanitarian assistance, but to get to those points, what happens? How far is it and what's going to happen from here to there? And so that just brings the whole realm of uncertainty and fear into another dimension when you're thinking about your children. And just, again, it just stirs me to no end to think about what that would even be like because the problems we deal with here are not comfortable at all.
Cathy: Not at all. Not at all. I want to back up just a little bit. So we alluded to this earlier in the conversation, but Myanmar has been in the news over the past year and a half or so, almost two years now, following a military coup that I believe was in... Was it in February of 2021 that that happened?
Mark Estes: That's correct. That is correct. Yep.
Cathy: Okay. So basically the military, just in a matter of 24, 48 hours, completely took over being in control of the country. So that's the current political situation in Myanmar. Tell us a little bit about what life is like because of that and how that transition of power has affected people who live there.
Mark Estes: So that coup happened within a matter of minutes on the morning in February... I forget the exact date now, it was late February 28th or something. It was near my daughter's birthday. That's how I remember it. But the military rolled into the capital, took out the elected government stating claims of it was unfair, it wasn't overseen properly, et cetera, but life changed very quickly. Demonstrations began and counter attacks began on people that were trying to express their right to demonstrate peacefully. You began seeing numbers rise quickly of people that were injured or killed in demonstrations around the country.
Now, keep in mind, February 21, what else was going on in the world? You've got pandemic that we're dealing with. You got COVID going on at the same time. So here, what happens during this military overthrow is that they began to limit access to healthcare facilities. And the educated, the learned people began to flee first. If they saw opportunities to get out and go to Thailand or Malaysia, wherever, they could find a way out, they began leaving.
So there was this significant brain drain that happened, and then the countries around it began to limit supplies. It was really hard to get supplies because everybody was demanding. There was such a high demand around the world in general, but it was even more difficult to get them into the country. So there was these little businesses popping up in Myanmar. It was interesting to see that they were filling oxygen containers on the street and they were somehow through the black market getting oxygen in from Thailand and from India, and I don't know from where else, so that families at home could take care of their vulnerable adults and elderly who were more at risk of getting COVID and trying to treat them as best they could at home.
But access to healthcare has been a significant issue. Being able to go about your daily lives because of military activities from one area to the other. And again, it ebbs and flows where there were seen to be more uprising or for the potential for uprising or populations who had people that were seen to be more aligned to the democratically elected government that was overthrown, just piece by piece, the military seems to have been trying to unravel that. And just here recently, right after the trip, there was a concert happening in one particular area of the country celebrating their own ethnic independence. And there were no ground troops present from the military, but there were three planes that went over and dropped bombs and killed a hundred people, innocent bystanders that were attending a conference... I'm sorry, a concert in celebration of this independence festival. So it was food, it was celebration, it was my people, my tribe, my language, and you had a range of people that were just mowed down by these bombs that were dropped, from infants to elderly.
And so those are just some glaring examples that I can think of, Cathy, that come from recent trips and time there with our team, and those that had benefited over the past 10 years from freedom and access and investments in the economic development and the ability for other humanitarian development organizations to enter the country, unfortunately, those numbers that were escaping poverty, more than 60, 70% of those have fallen, not to poverty, but below poverty, many of them below where they were 10 years ago. And so that's really hard to think about and it really reminds us of why God's heart is among these people and why World Concern is there and trying to help them in any way that we can.
Speaker 3: We want to thank our listeners for joining us at The End of the Road, and we hope you're enjoying hearing the incredible stories of what God is doing in the world's most remote, challenging places. We also want to invite you to prayerfully consider taking the next step and getting involved. You can support the life-changing work of World Concern and help reach more people with God's love and meet critical needs by making a donation at worldconcern.org/road. That's worldconcern.org/road. Your support is critical to keeping this ministry going and growing, so thank you. And now, let's get back to our conversation.
Cathy: I imagine that this whole coup and everything that's happened politically over the last year and a half also affected the work of World Concern, and yet, it seems like I'm beginning to hear that things are starting up again, and I'm sure there are challenges as there are to working in all of the places where World Concern works, but it is exciting to see that programming even just at the community, local community level is happening again. You shared a little bit about church partners and the diversity of religion in the country. It's primarily Buddhist. Is that correct?
Mark Estes: That's correct. That's correct.
Cathy: But there are pockets of Christianity. And so talk a little bit about that, what that looks like on a local level, and what kind of transformation is the local church bringing and seeing in Myanmar?
Mark Estes: Right. Thanks, Cathy. Yeah, so World Concern partners, and for those of you that have may never heard the development jargon called localization, it's where we and the humanitarian sector globally are really trying to work through local partners. And for us, the church represents the ideal local partner. It's there, it's going to be sustained. Hopefully it's going to be persecuted. In a country like Myanmar, it already has. But the thing to remember about Myanmar, Cathy, is that there's a higher per capita percentage of Christians there than in many other countries in Southeast Asia. Not by pure numbers alone, but by percentages. So there are many states that are identified somewhat by ethnic groups that have higher Christian numbers than others. And unfortunately, these areas are those that have been targeted by the military and other groups, and unfortunately, there's been more negative attention to those.
I mean, if you go back to 2017, remember the exodus among the Rohingya people. Right? They're Muslim, they're ethnic, more like Bangladesh, but they were ousted from the country. Almost a million people within a matter of days left the country and created the largest refugee camp of internally displaced people in the entire world. And that's still happening over five years later, and sometimes we forget about that story. So I use that just to move into the persecution. It's not just Christians, it's any religious minority that's seen in the country. So those are some more of the challenges that we deal with.
So working with the local church is really important. We see the church as the tool for reconciliation and peacemaking. We see the church, just like the stories earlier, as a place of refuge. So many churches have said, "Okay, how do we serve the communities in need? People that are outside of our walls, not our congregants who might be nearby and in a very different situation, but communities of Buddhist, communities of animists that worshiped the spirits in the forest or Muslim communities, or perhaps some pocket Hindu communities here and there. How do we serve them? How do we help them to keep safe?" And that's where these church partners, many of them have offered their campuses, their facilities, their small buildings, whatever they may have, so that people can come and find refuge there. So they can stay there safely, they can sleep overnight. They may stay there for weeks, they may stay there for months. In some cases, people have been there for years, but they've been coming and going as conflict ebbs and flows as we talked about earlier, and as they feel it's safe to go back to their villages.
So hearing some of the stories that were coming out of those church partnership was just really compelling and really encouraging, Cathy, when I heard some of the church leaders that were talking about what partnership actually meant to them as a way that helped them to get out their comfort zone, and seeing themselves as just being a vessel behind the pulpit that shares an encouraging message on Sunday morning to a more Christ-like organization that is out there in the streets, in the field, in the community, saying, "How can we help you?" And how can we show Christ's love to you in a very tangible way so that you can be exposed to the person of Jesus Christ through the efforts of the church trying to help them.
So through refugees that have come there, sometimes a church may host 20 families. Some churches might have 60 or 70 families that they're hosting, depending on size, depending on location, and depending on what's happening as far as the insecurities there. But it was just really encouraging to see that the church was training people up to actually work with these refugees on their properties, in the facilities, and they were saying it's just so easy to talk to people when they're there during the day because they don't have a lot to do. And so conversations could easily begin to talk about their family, their history, what's important to them. What do we have in common, Cathy? We all have kids, we have extended family, we have our dreams and our desires in life and you get to know a person like that, and it just opens up the door. And what the pastor said, they're so receptive to the gospel, and so many people have been so open to hearing the message and the story of Jesus, and lives have been changed spiritually. And that's through that church partnership.
I don't want to get into too many details just because of the sensitivity of it, but it's just so exciting to see how God is moving there through our church partners, and that they were so appreciative of the work of us helping them to understand the importance of clean water, the importance of protection of your children, and prevention of exploitation and abuse and harassment, and helping them understand... They were talking about, they said, "Mark, gosh, World Concern, this partnership has been so important to us in the past, but now we're thinking about relocating these families to a safe place, and we believe we can find land for them and we'd like to see World Concern continue to help us in the relocation process so that the families can replant again, so that there's a safe water point that would serve the community, so there's a school. And now that we have these new believers, we've got a church ready to be planted in this new community." So it's just really exciting to think about what the next level of partnership might look like there, Cathy.
Cathy: Yeah, that's awesome. I can hear the excitement in your voice. I love that. That's very exciting to hear, just to imagine that. You mentioned another term that's a little bit jargony, but the word sustainable, the church is sustainable. And I think what that means is that the church is going to be there a long time, whereas World Concern, we'll stay as long as we're needed, but our goal is to work ourselves out of a job and allow the local church, the local community, the leaders there to take over, to really take care of their own people and see that community transform, see people flourishing and earning income and working in their livelihoods and their kids in school and all those things, and the local church is such an important part of that. So long after we're gone, after World Concern is gone, the church will remain there. So I think that's a really good call out there.
You mentioned having conversations with people and how wonderful that was to just connect with them on a human to human level. And I'm wondering if there's someone, or even a couple people, but is there anybody that really stands out in your mind that you've met during your times that you've spent in Myanmar that just really made an impression on you that you still think about today, you still pray for them today? Is there anybody that comes to mind that you could tell us a little bit about their story?
Mark Estes: Yeah. Yeah. There's a pastor that comes to mind that I've known for many years, and I'm not going to mention his name, but let's just call him Brother.
Cathy: Yeah, there you go.
Mark Estes: So Brother has this super relationship with Jesus, and he knows who he is, he knows the price that God has paid for him. And the thing that always strikes me about him is he knows that the church, especially in Myanmar, but wherever the church exists, God has given it everything it needs, to go back to that word, to sustain itself.
And he talked to me once, he said, "The problem is that we tend to identify problems by a shortfall. So something that we don't have. And often it's money, often it's food, often it's clean water, and we get problem focused." And he said, "Jesus never was about problems, he was about solutions. He was about giving hope." And he said, "Of any place we need to see that hope is within the church because God has given us everything we need." And he said, "When we think about helping people transform their lives and have food security and have clean water, and have our children have a good education so that they can have a great start to their lives and to have adequate healthcare within their communities," he said, "it's all there. We just have to figure out a way how to bring it together. The water's there, it might be underground, it might be in the rain and we need to figure out a different way to it."
And that's where the church needs the expertise of people like World Concern, organizations like World Concern, who understand those aspects of development to help the church really see the potential, see the solutions, see the resources that could help bring those solutions to reality. And so he's been through so much personal challenges in his life. I mean, he's seen probably five decades of his Christian leadership in his church, in his family. He can tell stories of pastor friends that have been killed by military, by armed forces. He can tell stories of his own family that have been persecuted, lost houses that were burned, ran out of his village. The list goes on and on and on. But yet, this man, he's like Joe, he just continues to say that, "God, you brought me into this world, you've given me everything I need, and at the end of the day, I praise your name and I give you glory."
And he's just been such an encouragement to me, but also to other leaders around him, whether they're church leaders or secular leaders of businesses or political leaders, and trying to encourage them to just look at things differently to see what is rather than what is not, to see what potential we have rather than what we are lacking.
So it's like a friend of mine who does a workshop, he always talks about when we're describing our problems and challenges, think of having a flat car when you're driving down the road and you're trying to change your tire, and you look in your trunk and you don't have a jack. Well, if you define your problem by not having a jack, you'll never get your tire changed, you'll never get the spare on it. But if you look at the problem as, well, I've got a flat and I need something to pick up the car weight so that I can get the flat off and get the new one on. And if we think about that, then, yeah, we can find other people to help us. We can find a long piece of a log or something to get under the car and leverage it up.
There's a number of different solutions depending on how we look at the problem or how we focus on the problem. So he's been a big encourager for me, just in the way that I think and the way that I lead, I believe, in thinking about just how we look at the world and really challenge my own worldview. So I'm really thankful for him and how God put him in my life.
Cathy: That's really neat. It would be so easy to become hopeless living in a place like Myanmar, especially as this man, as you said, he's seen so much loss, he's experienced so much personal loss, he's seen so many horrific things happen to people over the years. It would be really easy to become hopeless, to want to give up hope. But you and I were talking recently and you told me that you see the people of Myanmar as resilient, especially the younger generation. And so I'm wondering if you could say a little bit about that resilience, what makes you say that, and also how that gives you hope when you think about continuing to serve in a place like Myanmar, what gives our team there and you, as their leader, that hope, and is that based in that resilience to some degree?
Mark Estes: Absolutely. Yeah. You don't have to go too far back into the history in Myanmar. And I encourage, if there are curious listeners out there, go to Google and look up some of that history. It goes back for thousands of years of different dynasties that came in and out and were overtaken and that ruled in peace and that ruled in conflict. And when youth today, when you talk to youth, I mean, the youth today have far different resources than I had and we had, Cathy, when we were growing up, but they have access to the internet, they have access to data, they have various opinions and perspective that answer the questions that they have in life.
But you think about the stories that they hear from their parents and their grandparents, and for those that may still be living, great-grandparents, that have lived through all these cycles of change in their country and have endured. And that's not only the Christians, but that is the mainline population of the country and all these very different diverse ethnic groups that exist there that make Myanmar what it is.
So I think youth, they've heard the stories of success in the past that yes, there's hope and that the people if mobilized and if the right leadership is there, they can be change makers. And if you look back, especially over the first three months following February '21, it was mostly youth that were out in the streets, demonstrating and mobilizing others. And even when there was a point that was reached that people said, "Okay, let's stay off the streets, let's do it in a different way." I remember one call that I had with the team when we were still able to connect with each other, you could hear pots banging. Bang, bang, bang. I said, "What is that noise?" They said, "Oh, that's the pot brigade." And I said, "What is that?" They said, "Well, that's people protesting from home. They're just taking their cookware, their metal cookware, and on cue, on a starting time that's been communicated, they're just banging, banging, banging. And they're doing that in unity to send a message."
And so that was one interesting approach that was youth-led that I thought demonstrated resilience as well, and you can still see that today. And the question is how long is this going to go on? But the people there will not lose hope. There's too much rich, deep history there that the people will not give up. And I think we're probably, I mean, everybody has their opinion, but I think we're probably a few years away of seeing this thing turn around. That's my prayer anyway. I hope it happens sooner.
Look, God is at work. He's going to use this and I believe the church is going to come out of this much stronger, and the church is always strong during times of persecution, and that's what's happening now there. If you're curious, look at the research, see what some of the websites that actually track the story of the church there and persecution. The Joshua Project is one of those that might be a interesting resource for you to learn from. But there is hope, and I believe the youth are definitely the torch bearers of the hope of the country now.
Cathy: That's great. That's so encouraging to hear. And we will be praying right along with you and with fellow believers there in Myanmar for that change to come, and that we always ask our listeners to pray, and so that gives us some real clear things to be praying about for the people of Myanmar. So, Mark, thank you for taking us on a little journey to Myanmar today. This has been really interesting and eye-opening for me, so I know it has been for our listeners today too. So thank you so much for being here.
Mark Estes: I've been honored to be a part of this, Cathy. Thanks for your time and inviting me to share.
Cathy: I want to thank our listeners for joining us today. I hope your mind has been expanded and your heart has been touched by what God is doing around the world. If you like what you're hearing on The End of the Road, please give us a five star rating and review us on Apple Podcasts, or hit the bell symbol on Spotify to be notified when there's a new episode released. Stay in the know and never miss an episode by texting the word podcast to 34444.
I want to thank CRISTA Ministries, World Concern's parent organization, for making this podcast possible. And I also want to thank Casey Helmick and the whole team at Terra Firma for their production and editing and consulting expertise, for helping us bring these stories to life and bring them to you. Thanks again for joining us today. We look forward to more stories at The End of the Road next time.