Friday, March 9, 2018

Sent to Myanmar...FEB/MAR 2018

The two weeks in Myanmar went by rather quickly as Pastor Dave Koenig and I worked with the church leaders of the Church of the Lutheran Confession of Myanmar in Kalaymyo in the West and the National Lutheran Church of Myanmar in the east.

Pastor Koenig arrived in Yangon on February 18th from the U.S. and I arrived from India the next day. Our flights from Yangon to Kalaymyo had already been arranged by a local travel agent for the next day. 

We spent the next three days in Kalaymyo teaching at an outreach seminar with the pastors, leaders, and over one hundred church members and guests. Most of the congregations of the CLC-Myanmar are located in mountainous regions of Chin State that borders India to the west. For a variety of reasons that have to do with the socialist and then military dictatorships that, until recently, have ruled this nation for the past several decades, this state is very underdeveloped with poor roads and infrastructure. Until recently, foreigners were not allowed to travel throughout the state. 

The CLC-Myanmar has fifty-six congregation that are served by seven pastors. They serve these congregations on a monthly basis by bicycle. In recent months three pastors went to be with the Lord and a fourth pastor found it necessary to resign due to hearing, sight, and other health problems. Pastors Kham and Thang are in the process of interviewing men and developing a process for training men to fill these vacant pastoral positions. They currently have five young men who are interested in this training. They also hope to train men to reach out to the many Buddhists who live in the area around Kalaymyo. 

Many of those in attendance at the seminar traveled several days to get to Kalaymyo for the seminar. Each day we held classes from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm with a lunch break in the middle. In the evenings Pastor Koenig and I took turns preaching at the special evening worship services that were held. These services were well attended as this gave many who were working during the day the opportunity to come hear the word. On Sunday a final worship service was held and it too was attended by more than one hundred and fifty people with at least fifty children in attendance!

Church Building and Orphanage of the CLC-Myanmar

Dedication and Ribbon Cutting for the New Church Building

Pastors Kham (L) and Thang (R), Secretary and Chairman of the CLC-Myanmar

Gathering for the first day of the Seminar

Pastor Kham (L) , his wife (R) and son, and the eleven children they care for

Pastor Thang, his mother, his wife, and their five children

Group picture on the last day of the outreach seminar for the CLC-Myanmar in Kalaymyo

Pastor Koenig teaching in the newly dedicated church building of the CLC-Myanmar in Kalaymyo
After our time in Kalaymyo came to an end we boarded a flight on a local airline back to Yangon to repeat the outreach seminar with the members of the National Lutheran Church of Myanmar along with friends who had also been invited. There were around eighty in attendance each day for the three day seminar. 

On March 2nd, the National Lutheran Church of Myanmar celebrated their 30th anniversary as a church. Pastor Charles leads this small church body. He spent many years working for the national transportation department until he took an early retirement with benefits so that he could spend more time working in the ministry. His grandparents immigrated to Yangon (then Rangoon) from Tamil Nadu, India. They were Lutherans and brought their Lutheran heritage with them. His grandfather was instrumental in starting some of the first Lutheran churches in Myanmar. Pastor Charles received training from and was ordained by the LC-MS affiliated church in Asia. He left this fellowship for doctrinal reasons. Over the course of a few years, beginning in 2007, he found agreement in doctrine with the CLC and was accepted into fellowship. He serves one main congregation and three preaching stations. His brother (who lives with his two sisters in the family home) conducts services every Sunday as well and Pastor Charles serves the congregation with the Lord's Supper once a month. Pastor Charles oldest son, Sam, has now completed his bachelors degree in information technologies, has a good job, and would like to train for the ministry through our developing Online Theological Studies website. He plans to assist his father in the ministry and eventually take over his father's pastoral duties when the need arises. 

Our last couple of days in Yangon (Saturday and Sunday) were spent visiting and offering devotions at member's homes and preaching stations, and attending and preaching at the worship service on Sunday. Sunday afternoon gave me the opportunity to spend some time with Pastor Charles and to see some of the sites around this old city of Yangon. I went to see the old market, the Shwedagon Buddhist Pagoda (some 2,500 years old), the original church building that Pastor Charles grandfather helped to establish, and the banks of Ragoon river that leads to the Bay of Bengal.
Shwedagon Pagoda
The Shwedagon Pagoda complex
The Shwedagon Pagoda is impressive to see with its millions of dollars worth of gold, diamonds, and precious jewels. As the story goes, it was originally built as a shrine to house eight hairs from the Buddha that were brought to the king by monks. Many of the people there were like me, simple tourists seeing a World Heritage site. But many/most were there as dedicated Buddhists. This was made evident as I watched many dressed in Buddhist monk's garb and others bowing down and praying and performing other rituals to the hundreds of idols contained within the complex. It truly breaks my heart to see this kind of thing. These individuals, who Jesus Christ died for, are blinded by the darkness of idolatry. They bow down to wood and stone and in turn reject the blood bought forgiveness and salvation that our Savior provided on the cross and empty tomb. According to the 2014 census reported on a Wikipedia page, the nation of Myanmar is 87.9% Buddhist and only 6.2% Christian. Let those statistics break your heart and pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who faithfully proclaim the Good News of forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life through life, death, and resurrection of our Savior!  

Attendees of the Outreach Seminar for the National Lutheran Church of Myanmar in Yangon
Pastor Charles Edwards (L-R) his son Sam, two sisters, brother Ivan
Sunday morning worship at the National Lutheran Church of Myanmar in Yangon
After two full weeks in Myanmar, Pastor Koenig and I both flew out on Monday, March 5th. Pastor Koenig flew home to the U.S. and I flew to Nepal.

For more information about the opportunities the Lord has opened to us in Myanmar go to: 

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