How does a structural engineering student link his passion for concrete to a passion for spreading the gospel? Three words: Engineering Ministries International. EMI is a Christian development non – governmental organization that partners with missionaries in the majority world to “design a world of hope” for the materially poor. The ministry is composed of engineers, architects, surveyors and construction managers who use their technical talents to offer a “glass of cold water” to those in need. I was part of a recent mission as an EMI intern, where senior university students and recent graduates volunteer a minimum of four months with a team of eight professionals working on a college and orphanage in rural Myanmar.
We went to Hle Gu where we met David Biakkung, the acting director of Myanmar Mission College, and his wife Nancy. Filled with a missionary zeal himself, David learned two languages for his work—English and the local Myanmar dialect. Moving through Myanmar is, in a sense, like moving from Quebec to British Columbia, but with an even greater change in culture. Witnessing David and Nancy’s gospel call reminded me of Jesus’ words:
“Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farm for my sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29 – 30).
David and Nancy have denied themselves a comfortable life for the sake of others. Their vision to train the people of Myanmar for the people of Myanmar, teamed with a heart for orphans has made their college a small and vibrant community.
The EMI team was quickly grafted into this community of believers by joining in their evening chapel services. The best way to describe their prayer style would be “one voice,” where each individual prays out loud to God simultaneously. It was initially overwhelming to join in with the people when praying in this way but as the week progressed my appreciation for our new surroundings grew. There was desperation, intimacy and utter dependence heard from these students and children as their prayers were spoken.
I was able to help the EMI team by surveying the site, creating a site map of the college, and completing some initial design checks on a new two – storey building. What resulted from our efforts was a five – step master plan that included a new chapel, a rescue village for human trafficking victims, an elementary school, and a finished college campus. When David saw the finished results, he said it was “better than his dreams.”
Presenting our design to the college community was one of the great joys of being in Myanmar.
We were asked to dress in longyi, the traditional men’s bottoms, for the presentation. The children’s and students’ faces lit up when they saw us enter into the presentation room showing off the local fashion. Many oohs and aahs could be heard as we shared our vision for the campus.
When I started my engineering education I had no idea of the journey that God was preparing me for. I was reminded of Paul’s words in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” I look forward to what else He has prepared for me!