The Story of the Burmese Elephant Necklace

Elephants have served as the best form of transportation for missionaries into the mountainous villages of Burma for centuries. In fact, the very first American missionary, Adoniram Judson, rode an elephant to reach the isolated Karen tribe that lived along the Salween River; this is where the Gospel of Christ experienced an astonishing breakthrough. The Karen were a primitive, hunted minority that were strongly animist.

However, the core of their “Traditions of the Elders,” an oral storytelling myth, seemed deeply rooted in the belief of an unchangeable, all-powerful God, who was Creator of all. They also believed that their tribe had been tempted by the devil and failed. They lived in the expectation of a Great Messiah who would rescue them by bringing a sacred Golden Book.

During their first three years in Burma’s capital city, Rangoon, Adoniram and his wife Anne committed twelve hours a day to learning Burmese. They translated the book of Matthew into Burmese, making it the first text to be printed in the Burmese language. As a result, many of the Karen turned to Christ quickly, and a lasting witness thrives there even today.

On one of Reload Love’s trips to Burma, a team worked alongside Burmese elephants to build a medical clinic that boarders Thailand. Before our arrival, elephants dragged large timber poles around the site like they were Lincoln Logs. A deep hole was dug to hold each beam erect. Our team then pulled ropes under four sections along each beam, then threaded bamboo through the ropes. Groups of eight people, four on each side of the beam, then used the bamboo to lift the beam and drop it into the hole. Next, some pushed while others pulled to place the beam in a vertical position within each hole. These created the foundation for the clinic. Incredibly, it took about sixteen to twenty-four people to do the work of one elephant. Our team was exhausted by the end of the day. The Gospel continues in Burma, because elephants and missionaries are working side by side.