ung Ko might seem an unlikely worship leader. He’s been blind since childhood and, by his own admission, has tried to commit suicide multiple times. But he’s also a living testament to the power of Jesus: the power to find people at their weakest moment and lift them up from despair, the power to turn emptiness into purpose and joy, the power to use absolutely anyone to be a beacon of light to those around them.
Aung Ko was born to a Bharmar father and Shan mother and grew up with a younger sister and three younger brothers. They were a very devoted Buddhist family. When Aung Ko was seven years old, his carpenter father moved to a new town closer to the major city of Yangon. The rest of the family followed and settled with him in Shwe Pyi Thar, where they still live today.
Soon Aung Ko began suffering from a disease in one of his eyes. Despite their heartbreak, his parents couldn’t afford to take him to a clinic, and the disease spread to the other eye. Aung Ko’s condition worsened until he went totally blind in his teens. He had finished grade seven in school but was unable to continue his studies.
Adrift and depressed, Aung Ko saw only emptiness ahead. Every day felt dreadfully long. Years passed, excruciatingly slowly. Without hope for a future, Aung Ko vaguely thought about taking his life. Over time, these thoughts solidified, and the day came when he acted on his desire to be free of the pain. But his attempt failed.
Nothing changed in his life, however, so Aung Ko tried again . . . and again. Each time, he was unsuccessful.
One day, when Aung Ko was nearing his 30s, a Christian evangelist arrived in the village and began talking to people about Jesus.
“Because the man was from the Karen tribe, I assumed that Jesus was a Karen ethnic god,” Aung Ko said. “But the evangelist explained that Jesus was God of all people and nationalities.” As a result of the evangelist’s messages, Aung Ko and his family were baptized into the Christian church.
Since Aung Ko couldn’t learn more about Jesus through reading books, he searched for audio sources of information. This search was how he discovered Adventist World Radio (AWR).
“I soon grew to love these programs,” Aung Ko shared. “Only the radio could comfort me. I noted the broadcast time and would listen every day, which I still do. Before, I didn’t know who God was, but I came to know everything through the radio.”
Every topic captured Aung Ko’s attention, from children’s stories to Bible-based sermons and from health advice to nature talks. As his knowledge grew, he decided that he should share what he was hearing, so he called his neighbors and formed a small group, which faithfully began meeting every Sunday. Aung Ko focused on the radio programs even more intently, doing his best to capture every detail.
“I could manage to remember some of the programs,” he said. “But I thought that there was perhaps a better way. So, I called the AWR office and asked whether they could send me the recordings.”
The AWR producers and staff in Yangon are highly engaged with their listeners, so they went a step farther and visited Aung Ko in person. The technician, Saw Kapaw Moo, filled a USB thumb drive with MP3 files, which Aung Ko could listen to again and again.
In his quiet way, Aung Ko has become a popular speaker and respected leader. Every month, he is invited to preach at one of the churches nearby. He has also founded a community services group—the Golden Eagle Handicap Foundation—which assists needy people in the community and surrounding area.
“I’m so happy that I’ve come to know God and learned about the true Sabbath,” Aung Ko said firmly. “One day, before long, I know my family members and I will become Adventists. Without the radio message, my life would be meaningless, and I could not continue living.”
Adventist World Radio is the international broadcast ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Programs are currently available in more than 100 languages, via shortwave, AM/FM, on demand, podcasts, Call-to-Listen service, and solar audio players. AWR’s mission is to bring the gospel to the hardest-to-reach people of the world in their own languages. The “AWR360°” approach to outreach encompasses the entire journey of listeners from broadcast to baptism.
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