Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep – Myanmar Context

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” -Galatians 3:28

The Presbyterian Church of Myanmar (PCM) General Secretary Rev Ling Zaw led us in a reflection on the Scriptures to study the context of “Solidarity with the People of Myanmar: Christian perspective” during the CWM 40th Anniversary Thanksgiving Service.

As a member church of CWM, PCM is hoping but also struggling with the new political identity in Myanmar’s reconstruction and transformation. Rev Ling Zaw recalled at the end of his deep and heartfelt sermon: “There is no doubt in my mind that God is planning to use us for spreading his Gospel to our surrounding regions and healing the wounded people near and far to us.”

The Bible study leader and Principal of Tahan Theological College Rev Lal Chung Lura used CWM’s vision Fullness of life through Christ for all creation to further describe how and why the people of Myanmar should prepare the highway of the Lord, to cooperate with the government and build up the way toward God. Building peace and national reconciliation is a must, said Rev. Lura.

Immersion programme

To better understand the Myanmar context, the delegates of EAR MMF visited Myanmar Council of Churches (MCC) and Myanmar Baptist Convention(MBC). MCC has put in effort on social issues in Myanmar such as youth drug addictions, compulsory education, and HIV prevention. MCC staff commented that when the new government took over, there might be more opportunities to cooperate with other NGOs.

MBC focuses on theological education and congregational needs, with Sunday services in 14 different languages. It is starting from self-equipping to meeting civil obligations, and from being a sustainer of God’s creation to fulfilling God’s will, as part of its long-term Mission Plan Focus Themes till 2023.

Theological and Missiological Reflection

Chang Jung Christian University Vice President and Professor of Theology Rev Dr Po Ho Huang led the theological reflection, reminding us that Abraham was not only called a patriarch of faith, but was also promised a great nation.

Having presented Abraham’s background, Rev Huang then led us to look into how the Christian Mission for a Promised Land can be fulfilled in the context of East Asia by Nurturing Humble Spirituality; Mending the Broken World; Building the Oikos of God.

Rev. Dr SeonYi Lee, a lecturer from the Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary, led us in the missiological reflection to rethink traditional church leadership based on the Korean context. She used biblical, theological, missional dimensions to explain the different styles of leadership. Based on her observations, traditional church leadership should be renewed as missional leadership, which includes the core elements of Creative Leadership, Holistic Leadership, Ecumenical Leadership and Reformative Leadership.

Unity: Accompany Members in Mission

During the meeting, we spent time listening to the six member churches in East Asia Region share their stories and challenges. Churches in this region encountered political challenges, civil conflicts, economic injustice, and difficulties in establishing democracy and education.

Dr Yvonne Dawkins, CWM Deputy General Secretary of Programme, continued the conversation and shared CWM’s history and how CWM accompanies its members in mission. She raised questions to encourage participants to rethink what CWM’s vision Fullness of life through Christ for all creation meant to them, and what it would look like in the context of the local congregations if we were to accomplish this goal.

The delegates’ ideas were summarized as fullness of life being more than justice, peace, love and freedom. It is about a new relationship with God, humankind and the earth we live in. The love of Christ is the key to a better world, to counter evil such as injustice, corruption, enmity, hatred and the like.

Finally, the EAR MMF delegates gathered in PCM Yangon Church for the closing worship. Rev Chang-Bae Byun, a director of CWM, used Psalm 133 to encourage delegates to put effort into living together in unity, for it is a blessing and a joyful moment for all creation. Following the sermon was the Holy Communion led by Rev Supina Nakaisulan, and the MMF ended with the benediction sending us out:

We go out in peace to serve the Lord

And may God’s grace go with us

We go out in peace, to serve our neighbours

And may God’s grace go with us

We go out in love, to repair broken relationships

And may God’s grace go with us

We go out in love, to bring relief to those who are in pain

And may God’s grace go with us

We go out in hope, to heal our tomorrow

And may God’s grace go with us