We believe that our lives are in the hands of our sovereign God, yet often this cannot readily be seen until one looks back.
I served God in Kos (Greece) for four years. During that time, I met a young man called David*. He is a pastor involved in church planting in Myanmar (Burma), with a great zeal for winning souls for Christ.
Over five years our friendship deepened, and we had weekly email correspondence. Little did I realise that each email cost David a return journey of four hours to the nearest internet cafe.
As it became clear in 2009 that we would have to return from Kos to the UK, and since David was party to our prayers, there came this request from him - would I be prepared to visit Myanmar to teach the Bible to his congregation?
I felt inadequate for such a task. However, he insisted. So, in early July, I travelled via Thai Airways to Rangoon (Yangon) for ten days of Bible ministry. Although the capital city Yangon is starting to experience satellite TV, mobile phones and computers, the rest of Myanmar is years behind. Roads are limited and housing very basic, especially in the villages. Even though not all Christians feel persecuted, they do feel watched.
On the first Sunday the local authorities said I would not be permitted to go to the church. However, when David visited the hotel, he said it would be possible for me to go for 10-15 minutes. Church is a downstairs room in his house, where they sing, worship, pray and hear the Word of God expounded. Many stand out in the street or front garden and listen. These include Buddhists, Hindus and animists, as well as Muslims probably. All seem interested as to what is going on, yet, says David, they are afraid to come in. However, many who stood outside in the past are now regular worshippers. The church that David has planted there has grown from 3-4 to more than 50 in the last five years, even though he has been forced to move on seven occasions during those years.
Benjamin* is David’s younger brother. Benjamin was converted five years ago. He is educated to a grade 10 standard (classed elsewhere as a universitygraduate). Like his elder brother he has given up his career since all university graduates find jobs within the military or Government. For a number of years, Benjamin lived with his brother, as he was orphaned at 12-years old. Not too many Burmese live beyond their late 50s. Since Benjamin’s conversion, his great aim is to win souls for Christ. It was a joy to meet him. He had come south from Shan state where he is currently working in the city of David Tanunggyi. Already he is renting part of a house there and holding regular services on Sundays, as well as Bible studies around that city. He has a desire to reach out into the countryside too. How different the young church in Myanmar is to the church of the West! David’s weekly Bible study is on a Saturday from 9am to 2pm (evenings are difficult, as electricity is limited). Imagine Bible studies of this length in the UK! So I should not have been surprised at the length of time David expected my seminars to last — 9.00am-noon each morning, with three five minute breaks, to cover the book of Genesis; then 1.00pm-3.00pm in the afternoon, with two five minute breaks! David’s comment was, ‘Teach them Genesis. They need to understand how it all started. Then they will have a better understanding of why Jesus the Saviour was needed’.
In spite of all the obstacles, from the authorities and from difficult living circumstances, the church of Jesus Christ in Myanmar is flourishing. David is expecting converts and looking to see, as soon as they are converted, how they can be used. Can you imagine such an outlook in Britain? A young couple recently married, and only converted two years ago, are already preparing to go to the south west of the country to church plant. David is preparing to send a recent convert, a young man, to Chin State, north of Yangon. Things have changed from the days of Adoniram Judson. Missionaries are no longer needed, but what is needed is western biblical knowledge, together with practical support.
Caring for Life - click to read more
Caring For Life is a registered Christian charity (registration no. 519138) with the aim of sharing the love of Jesus with homeless or vulnerable people by providing accommodation, ongoing support, love and friendship, and when necessary, providing that care 'for life'! Such care enables people to develop dignity and self-respect. Our motto is simple, "Sharing the Love of Jesus."
Open Air Mission - click to read more
The aims of the Open Air Mission have remained unchanged for over 150 years.
Firstly, to send out and support evangelists, to go to open-air venues where crowds gathered and preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ
Secondly, to encourage other believers to seize the opportunity to be involved in open-air evangelism.
Lord’s Supper Church, Krasnodon, Ukraine
For several years, West Row Baptist Church has supported a small church in Krasnodon, Ukraine. A member of our fellowship came to the UK from this church and we maintain our support annually as we feel it is a good witness.
Pastor David, Myanmar - (See below for more information) - not his real name
We will be supporting a pastor in Myanmar as he continues to build local churches in the community in which he lives in.
Zambezi Mission - click to read more
Zambesi Mission is an evangelical, non-denominational agency working in Malawi and northern Mozambique. Working in partnership with the Zambesi Evangelical Church, they aim to help African Christians to use their God-given gifts, to spread the gospel, and to show the love of God in practical ways, through health care, education and caring for orphans.