Here from GCI Mission Developer Rod Matthews are updates on GCI ministry in Myanmar and Dubai.
GCI Senior Pastor Wong Mein Kong (pictured at right), who lives in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, coordinates GCI’s work in the southeast Asian nation of Myanmar (formerly Burma). In May, Mein Kong visited Myanmar to meet with GCI pastors and ministry leaders of other groups interested in our fellowship and work there. One group based in the Chin State in the north of Myanmar whose leader is Chan Thleng previously broached the subject of joining GCI. They were advised to take more time to study our theology and to discuss its implications with their elders and members. Chan Thleng also has a congregation near the main city of Yangon in the south.
Mein Kong and his wife, Chew Yeng, returned home excited and encouraged because Chan Thleng had come with the news that his group had definitely confirmed that they want to become part of GCI. Here is Mein Kong’s report:
On Saturday, May 2, we went to his church in a village outside Hmawbi, about 50 km from Yangon. Chan Thleng and four elders from Chin State and a group of his church members came for the meeting and discussion. It lasted three hours as they asked about our teaching and various doctrines. I also briefed them on GCI’s history, theology and mission. This was the third time I had visited and spoken to them in their church. They were very pleased with our sharing. One of the elders declared that they want only to learn from GCI and not other churches! They had been praying for several years for a church that could provide them spiritual understanding and leadership. They believe God has led them to GCI. I must say I feel the same way.
On Sunday we attended their worship service with about 40 people and I gave the sermon. After the service there was a women’s meeting with Chew Yeng. A few of their leaders continued to ask me questions. On Monday, Chan Thleng came to our hotel and continued discussions with us. I suggested that his group change their present name of Myanmar Bible Presbyterian (BP) as there is already a BP church in Malaysia and Singapore. They are very happy to use the GCI name. I asked Chan Thleng to look into applying for membership for the local GCI in the Myanmar Evangelical Christian Fellowship (MECF) which is a member of the World Evangelical Alliance. The MECF is recognized by the Myanmar government.
The present BP church that wants to be a part of GCI comprises seven elders overseeing 180 members in the Chin State, plus Chan Thleng and his assistant, who pastor 34 members in Hmawbi. The churches are self-supporting, mission-oriented and active in church planting. Only Chan Thleng speaks English and he translates the material I give him into Matu Chin for his fellow elders.
The group requested GCI’s help in erecting a church building in Matupi, Chin State, where most of the elders and their congregations are located. Chan Thleng has started his church building on his land and is using it as a focal point for outreach into the surrounding community. He hopes to send one of his leaders as a church planter in another township in Yangon. I have told Chan Thleng and his elders that GCI would be happy to welcome them into our fellowship.
Mein Kong has also developed a close friendship with Nyein Thu, a well-educated young man who teaches at an international school in Myanmar and who appreciates our theological understanding and loves our literature. Nyein Thu has finished translating our booklet, “The God Revealed in Jesus Christ,” into Burmese, and is looking into the cost of printing it in Yangon. We are awaiting further information so we can offer another item of literature in Burmese.
On his return to Malaysia, Mein Kong told the Klang church of Chan Thleng’s desire to join GCI. The entire congregation is excited with this growth and are happy to support him and his church in mission and church planting.
North Indian Regional Pastor, Daniel Zachariah, was invited to teach in a training program entitled “Leadership and Theology” for about 200 pastors held in Dubai. It was sponsored by Person-to-Person Institute for Biblical Counselling in Hyderabad in conjunction with the Chaplaincy of Dubai and Sharjah with the Northern Emirates. Dan was told that as many as 150 denominations were represented.
Dan facilitated six sessions involving a Survey of the Old and New Testaments, with a focus on explaining “Who is the God of the Bible?” Dan said, “I had an opportunity to present God from a Trinitarian/Incarnational perspective. I was pleasantly surprised that there were shouts of “hallelujah” and “praise the Lord” when I concluded. Perhaps they just wanted an affirmation that we worship a God who loves us, rather than a God who constantly makes demands on us to please him. There was some aggressive questioning though, especially from some African pastors (I presume they come from a prosperity gospel background).”
After brief remarks on the canonization, inspiration and interpretation of the Bible, Dan (pictured at right) focused on what the various sections of Scripture (Pentateuch, Historical books, Books of Poetry and Wisdom, Gospels, etc.) reveal about our God. Many pastors found that using an incarnational Trinitarian foundation was refreshing, with the head of the Chaplaincy, Fr. Ruwan, commenting that it was a unique perspective. Dan presented the Chaplaincy office with copies of a booklet we produced in India entitled, “Bible Prophecy – A Testimony to Jesus Christ.”
While in Dubai, Dan was also able to visit the home of one of our members for dinner, and share videos and a biblical message with the group.