Last summer Joseph Hewitt, a retired UK Grace Baptist pastor, spent nearly three weeks visiting Christians in Myanmar. He and Chris Hughes have listed randomly the highlights of the visit.
Speaking at six Bible colleges for time periods ranging from five minutes to over three hours.
Also preaching at a Full Gospel Church, speaking at a leaders’ conference, and leading devotions at a youth conference.
Three very different cities: Yangon – an ex-colonial city that must at one time have been very pleasant and could be again; Mandalay – an old Buddhist town, dirty and oppressive; Maymyo – a quiet country backwater.
Smells – in many places open drains are set close to the buildings, just covered with concrete slabs or small amounts of paving – giving way!
Gold: an incredible number of pagodas (payas) and temples covered in gold and beautifully maintained, in a country where everything else (except for a few modern hotels) is falling into disrepair.
Driving and evangelism
Driving: This is on the right. Most cars are Japanese models with right-hand-drive. Drivers just hoot to let other cars know they are coming and are going to overtake. Out of town the roads soon degenerate into dusty, bumpy dirt tracks.
Lots of scooters and pedal cycles – especially in Mandalay – with families riding side-saddle and riders wearing old army helmets (including Second World War German!) as crash hats.
Buddhism’s bondage: Buddhist monasteries (through which most people pass once in their lives) – and the assumption that merit can be earned before God by devotion to Buddhist shrines – mean that the Burmese people are pouring time, money and effort into things that can never give hope, either in this life or in eternity.
Churches which have a heart for evangelism, and especially cross-cultural evangelism.
Haven of peace
Churches impoverished by liberal theological and philosophical teaching that rob them of trust and confidence in God and the Lord Jesus Christ as revealed to us in his Word.
Churches that reflect most of the church divisions in the UK and USA – all within the compressed space of one Asian country. One college principal suggested that Christ is growing his church by division. While this may be true, any such growth is a testimony to God’s grace, not to human gracelessness.
The Burmese people: lovely, funny, happy, joyful people.
Brothers in Christ: the four of us who went out from the UK were very different, but God enabled us to get on really well and work together in different circumstances.
Traders Hotel: a haven of peace and tranquillity at times, with afternoon high tea (English sandwiches and cakes and/or Chinese snacks) for $7.
Blessing and the Bible
Meeting a man 101 years old who had known the CIM missionary who, in China, developed the written Lisu language and saw hundreds of Lisu turn to Christ.
This old man had then been used to bring the gospel to the Lisu from China to Burma – the western CIM missionary was not allowed to cross the frontier. His prayer was that he would be able to continue to speak to people about Christ until he was 105! Meeting a converted Burmese car driver whose older brother had been converted when he had begun to fight his wife, looked for something to throw at her, and the only thing he could lay his hands on was a Bible. Rather than throwing it, he had read it and been converted.
Food is generally cooked whole or chopped or sliced with bones left in. On the last Saturday we had a chicken meal which proved a bit crunchier than expected, especially for Jim who pulled out what he thought was a bit of bone and realised he had been eating a chicken’s head!
Joseph: an unembarrassed Englishman who offered Bibles to waiters and invited them to hear him preach!