March 29

Ko Tha Byu was a member of the Karen tribe, native to the mountains of Burma. He died in 1840.
The Karens were the lowest class of people in Burma. They were usually considered to be “the wild men of the jungle.” Ko Tha Byu was typical of his people and perhaps even worse than most. He confessed that by the time he was fifty he had murdered or assisted in the murder of at least thirty people.
After five decades of wickedness and the suffering it caused, Tha decided to settle down and clean up his life. He began working in a print shop that was run by a Baptist missionary. The missionary tried to teach him the meaning of what it was he was printing, but Tha had not yet been readied by the Lord. He left the kindness and blessing of that employment and moved to Moulmein. There he got into debt and eventually found himself standing on the block awaiting to be sold into slavery. Providentially, a Burmese Baptist recognized the potential slave and bought him for 12 rupees. Again the Karen man rebelled, and the Christian turned to Adoniram Judson for advice. Judson reimbursed the man and took Tha home where he was asked to work around the missionary’s house. He learned to read Burmese, and when he read of the crucifixion his eye fell on Christ’s forgiveness of the murderous man on the cross. He was amazed, asking Judson for more information. In time he accepted the truth and by faith was born again.
Ko Tha Byu immediately began growing in Christ. On this day (March 28) in 1828 he agreed to accompany Missionary George Boardman into a new branch of the work, becoming one of the most effective pioneers in the Karen mission. At first he would simply invite natives to follow him to the Boardman’s home, but soon he was attempting to preach. On more than one occasion – nearly drowning, contracting disease, being injured – he was heart-broken thinking that his opportunity to continue his ministry might soon come to an end. But for twelve years Tha continued to serve his Saviour. And the outcome is one of the greatest stories in missions. The number of baptized Karen believers had grown to more than twelve hundred. And those converts spread throughout the mountains, making the Karens one of the most thoroughly evangelized people on earth for the glory of God.