Meet Maggie, the BCMS elephant!

Kachin State is home to the sheer mountain ranges of the Hukawng Valley. It’s home to tigers, dwarf deer and amber mines. It’s home to the glassy Indawgyi Lake. And it was also home to the Bible School in Mohnyin.

BCMS mission partners first came to Myanmar in 1924. By the 1940s, the gospel was flourishing. 50 mission partners were based across 17 stations working with growing, self-supporting indigenous churches.

The mission hospital in Mohnyin drew a stream of needy people who came to be physically treated and then heard of Jesus. Before long, a Bible School was established and local young men came to study God’s word and take it back to their towns and villages in the hills. Consequently, influential police officers and Buddhist priests journeyed for days to investigate reports of Jesus and had their lives transformed by the gospel.

Colonel Middleton-West was a greatly beloved figure in Mohnyin. He lived in a bamboo shack in the Hukawng Valley, where he made contact with the indigenous people and later built a hospital. He worked in Myanmar as a medical missionary before and after the Second World War, until he was 80 years old.

Maggie the elephant was another treasured character, who kept open lines of communication in the monsoon season, wearily crossing miles of impassable mud and flooded marsh. Her finest hour was in 1942. As Japanese invaders laid Myanmar to waste and expelled Westerners, Maggie helped BCMS missionaries escape Mohnyin through the treacherous Naga Hills to safety in India. 

Having experienced such gospel growth, the years following 1942 were devastating. Houses, hospitals, churches, schools and mission stations were destroyed, deserted or burnt down. Yet indigenous clergy, ministers and teachers continue to serve dispersed Christians at huge risk to their lives and livelihoods.

The church in Myanmar suffered, endured and then re-emerged. Slowly, BCMS missionaries returned after the war. The Bible School in Mohnyin reopened at the end of the 1940s and its legacy has lived on through decades of persecution. The last Western missionaries were expelled from Myanmar in 1966. Between 1962 and 2011, Christians in Myanmar were systemically persecuted by the staunchly Buddhist military. Since the military coup in 2021, the situation has worsened. Christians are being attacked and killed, with their villages and churches destroyed.

Yet God continues to grow his church there despite all the opposition. Amid the seemingly hopeless situation, the Bible School continues (as Emmanuel Divinity School) to train men from many ethnicities in the evangelical faith for service in the national church.

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Polly Standring

As the communications content developer at Crosslinks, Polly helps mission partners connect with both Crosslinks and their supporters back home. As well as ensuring Crosslinks' internal communications run smoothly, she also oversees the writing of our external communications, including the Crosslinks blog.