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|
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.
|The Shwedagon Pagoda complex|
|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|
For more information about the opportunities the Lord has opened to us in Myanmar go to: http://lutheranmissions.org/nation/myanmar/