[This story originally appeared in the April 1933 edition of Mission.]
Aye May lived in a village in Burma, now called Myanmar. When Adventist missionaries held meetings in this village, Aye May attended. One thing they talked about was the evils of tobacco, betel nut [a narcotic seed that is chewed as a mild stimulant], and alcohol. The missionaries invited those who wanted to give up these habits—or never start them—to sign temperance pledges.
Aye May signed the temperance pledge. A lay member in the village saw her interest in spiritual matters and encouraged her to attend the Adventist mission school. He even offered to help pay her school fees. Aye May’s father was dead, and her mother couldn’t afford to send the children to a good school. So Aye May’s mother agreed to let Aye May study at the Adventist school.
At school Aye May learned more about God and gave her heart to Jesus. When she returned home, she eagerly told her family what she had learned at school. But her relatives were not happy to learn that Aye May was following the Christian God. They tried to convince her to give up her new beliefs, but Aye May refused. Even some of the villagers opposed her new beliefs. When it came time to return to school, her uncle threatened her.
“If you return to that mission school, I will kill you!” he said.
Aye May turned to her mother for support, but her mother feared her relatives and dared not oppose them. So she forbade Aye May to return to the mission school. Mother wasn’t sure that the teachings at the mission school were such a good influence on Aye May. So Aye May was forced to stay home from school.
Throughout the year Aye May tried to be true to what she had learned at the mission school. She prayed and hoped that her relatives would allow her to return to the mission school for the next year.
The months passed, and soon it was time for another school year to begin. Aye May asked her mother for permission to return to the mission school. Then she added, “I’d like to take Cho Cho with me.” Cho Cho was her little sister.
Mother replied, “One Seventh-day Adventist in the family is enough.” But eventually Mother allowed Aye May and Cho Cho to go to the mission school. Still fearing their uncle, the two girls left secretly for the school.
The girls had no one to help with their school fees, so Aye May worked hard to pay their tuition and other expenses. God blessed her work and study, and both girls did well in school. They studied the Bible together, and before the school year ended the girls were baptized.
Aye May and Cho Cho invited their mother to visit the school, and she came. She was pleased with her daughters’ progress and curious about the religion that had made such a difference in their lives. She attended church services and even joined in some Bible studies. Before long she was convinced that her daughters had found the right path to truth. But she loved tobacco and refused to give it up.
Aye May and Cho Cho prayed for their mother, but as the Holy Spirit worked on her heart, Mother seemed to smoke more than ever.
One day Aye May went into her mother’s room and found it filled with smoke. Her mother was puffing on a huge cigar! Aye May burst into tears and threw her arms around her mother, “Oh, Mother, Mother, can’t you stop smoking?”
Tears streamed down Mother’s cheeks as she struggled with her daughter’s plea. After several minutes Mother cried out, “I am finished! I am done with tobacco!” Mother laid her cigar down, and with a big knife she chopped it into pieces. Then she threw it out. God gave Mother the victory. From that moment on, Mother never smoked again.
The next school year Aye May’s two other sisters joined Aye May and Cho Cho at school. Within a few months Aye May watched as her mother and sisters were baptized.
Aye May’s influence has extended beyond the family circle as others in her village became Adventists. And the old uncle who had threatened to kill Aye May even sent his daughter to the Adventist school.
Our mission offerings continue to reach people in Myanmar (Burma) and around the world with the gospel of Jesus. Your world mission offerings make a life-saving difference for thousands.
When he wrote this story, J. F. Ashlock was acting Sabbath School secretary of the Southern Asia Division, to which Myanmar (then called Burma) belonged.