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Missionaries Help Drug Addict Find New Life in Myanmar

November 24, 2023 |  By Sue Morris

Joseph awoke with a feeling of dread. His suicide attempt had not worked. Again, he faced the terrible life he had chosen for himself. From drinking to marijuana to hard drugs, he had spiraled down for years.

It all started with a few drinks when he entered high school. That led to smoking marijuana and then to heavier drugs. Joseph managed to graduate from high school and begin college. He would ask for money, letting his family think it was for college expenses when it was really for drugs. Joseph’s appearance changed as he did more drugs, cluing his family into his substance abuse. After a lecture from his mom, Joseph cut off communication with his family.


If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the 988 Lifeline is available. Call or text 988 now.

Change of scenery

Joseph left school and went to northern Myanmar to hunt for jade in the Kachin State. As a jade scavenger, he made enough money to be independent. Instead of caring for his physical needs, Joseph used his new wealth to buy more drugs. The substance abuse took over as he took more and stronger drugs, and he began to suffer physically. The final straw was finding out he was HIV-positive.

In despair, Joseph tried to commit suicide several times without success. His mom came looking for him. As a nurse, she understood his condition and took him home to help him get off drugs. That attempt failed, and Joseph ran away from home again.

Keep running

This time, he headed to the China border to work in the teak industry. He was making more money than he had as a jade scavenger. The better income led to more drugs and worse behavior. He was fired from several jobs because his employers were unhappy with his behavior and poor work. In despair, Joseph attempted suicide again and failed again.

Thankfully, his mother came searching for him a second time. She was aware of Myanmar Young Crusaders (MYC), a ministry that helps drug addicts and alcoholics. She had seen the incredible change in some who had gone through its program.

Hope offered

“Joseph, do you want to go to MYC and change your life?” she desperately suggested to her son.

Joseph whined back, “I have tried so many times. Even you, my mother, tried to treat me at home, but nothing changed. Are you sure that I’ll be free from the drugs?”

Reassured by his mother, Joseph decided to give the ministry a chance. He was shocked to learn from Sharon, the head of Myanmar Young Crusaders, that the substance abuse program would last for four years. Joseph would have to attend Bible college and rehab for three years and then participate in a one-year follow-up program. Though surprised at the length of the program, he accepted the terms and signed on to the program.

Not what Joseph expected

When Joseph arrived at the rehab center, he was in for another shock. Instead of giving him medication for his withdrawal symptoms, the directors prayed for him! When he shook from withdrawal, they prayed for him. No matter what he went through, they prayed for him.

Joseph, though not pleased, decided to stay. He later admitted that he tried to run away many times. What stopped him? A high wall and a massive gate surrounded the compound. He could not figure out how to scale the wall. Also, the ministry had a rule that if a person left rehab, he could not return to the program. This rule helped keep Joseph from leaving. He was tired of failure.

Joseph was outraged and aggressive during his time at rehab and Bible college. He would get in fights constantly. Joseph was angry and moody. He was hard to be around when he lost in a soccer game.

During his second year of Bible college, Joseph developed a great passion for music but had no talent. He had never been able to write music or compose a song. Joseph decided to test God, as he still had not committed himself to the Lord. Joseph said, “God, if you are really alive, then help me. Give me the gift of being able to write music.”

God did that very thing for Joseph. He was able to write music. He then finished his final year of Bible college and rehab. Next was the follow-up program.

Change comes

As Joseph entered the follow-up program, which included getting involved in ministry, he thought to himself, “I am outside of the rehab center. Maybe I should live my life and just work — not do ministry. I’ll ask Mom to let me come home.”

He was sure that as the only son, he could go home and be welcomed. To his shock, his mom refused to let him come home. She was afraid he would get back on drugs, and she was concerned she might become HIV-positive as he was. Her refusal forced Joseph to see that he needed Jesus as his Savior.

His decision to say yes to Jesus was slow in coming, but it changed his life completely. He now serves alongside Chit, Sharon’s husband, who leads the Myanmar Young Crusaders band, is a pastor, and teaches music in the Bible college. Joseph also leads worship at the church and writes the worship music. By the grace of God, he was married several years ago. When his son was born, the best news was that his son was not HIV-positive.

Sharon said of the change in Joseph, “I am always proud of him. He is very dependable for MYC, too. He’s a very good person for MYC.” She went on to share that he comes to volunteer in the ministry office and helps the staff of the churches prepare music for worship each week.

Myanmar Young Crusaders

Myanmar Young Crusaders is a unique ministry that started as a rock band. David, the founder and the father of Sharon, felt that music would bring Christians and addicts together so ministry could happen. It has genuinely happened, as Joseph’s story illustrates. Music has been used in the Bible college and follow-up program to minister to the attendees. Few Bible school programs in Myanmar include music in their curriculum. Sharon stated, “It refreshes their souls.”

You can help drug addicts, alcoholics, needy, and desperate people. Support a missionary like Sharon to be a part of the solution for these hurting people.

Support missionaries and see lives changed for eternity.


If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the 988 Lifeline is available. Call or text 988 now.