ORIENT, Ohio, — The Kaang Chin people of southern Chin State, Burma, have waited 60 years to see God’s word in their native language, and now they’ll have to wait a little longer amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

When panic began to break out around the world, they were just finishing Phase 1 of a 20-year project to translate the Bible. They had just completed the New Testament.

Last summer, an American mission’s organization heard about their painstaking work amidst poverty and persecution and pitched in to help print the New Testaments in Burma, now called Myanmar.

Mission To Myanmar, which has been working in Burma since 2013, helped take the pen-and-paper handwritten copy, typeset it, and have it published.

“I was proud to have the very first book I have ever printed be the Bible,” said Mission To Myanmar founder Mark Robinette, lamenting that he and his team’s trip to Burma to pass out the New Testaments was canceled in the crisis.

“We had 16 people at my house from all over the country, packed and ready to leave the weekend all the airlines started canceling flights and the U.S. closed travel to China. We thought we were going to celebrate with them over the arrival of Book of books in their native tongue.”

Dr. Troy Hampton, the team’s medical director said, “It was a huge letdown, but we know they’ll eventually get their Bibles.”

Robinette said his team was the first outsiders to ever visit the remote village located 600 miles north of the coastal capital city of Yangon, high in the Chin mountains.

“They touched our faces, having never seen white people before, and walked around us, wondering at our clothes and hair,” he said. “They killed a large, cow-like beast for us and put on a native dance we’ll never forget.”

The Kaang Chin, complete with feathered headdresses and colorful clothes, were set to converge on Kruk Village from around the region for a huge celebration April 6 to rejoice and distribute the first-ever Kaang Chin New Testament and their continuing work on the Old Testament. For now, thousands of copies of their “new” New Testament are still in Yangon.

The same week the New Testament’s were printed, Robinette also published his own book about the Kaang Chin people’s conversion to Christianity, called Myanmar Gold. Robinette, a two-time Associated Press award winning reporter, conducted interviews for several years to get this never-told-before story.

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