The God of Hope
Part I. The God of Hope
The 2012 Summer Myanmar mission trip was held from September 10th through 19th. Also during this period, a Bible conference was held from 12th through 18th at the MUST seminary with the theme of “The God of Hope.” God granted us 3 speakers for this conference: Shepherd James Tak of LA, Shepherd Marc Schollarman of Frankfurt, Germany and myself. Five of my messages were from Genesis 12 through 22 on the life journey of Abraham, and Shepherd Marc’s testimonial messages were also given each day. Shepherd James served the MUST students through English classes, one in the morning and the other one in the afternoon. About 50 of MUST students and 10 of CMI members and 12 staff members participated.
German CMI coworkers have been great supporters for Myanmar mission. Last year, Shepherd Manfred of Darmstadt CMI participated in the mission trip. And this time, Shepherd Marc informed me that he is going to join us. While preparing the mission trip, however, a couple of incidents tensed us. About a month before the departure to Myanmar, Shepherd James broke his left arm while riding a skate board. He received surgery and the doctor ordered him not to do anything difficult for the next six weeks. He had to decide whether or not to give up the mission trip. But he decided to make it by any means. Though he joined the trip in a not so perfect condition, he executed his mission perfectly. It was his second consecutive mission trip from last year – and this time his performance was far better than last year’s. He was very popular with the students, especially with the girl students. They asked him to stay one night with them in the MUST campus (This time we stayed in a hotel after each day’s program was over for security reasons). These days Myanmar is opening her door to the outside of the world after the 40 long years of military regime. Additionally, the social and political systems are changing into capitalism and democracy very rapidly. The most popular and the most needed foreign languages are English and Korean. MUST students and Myanmar CMI members are eager to learn both languages. I pray that we may continuously send our children to Myanmar as short-term missionaries in order to teach English and Korean.
Shepherd Marc also had some problem to overcome. He and his wife couldn’t find a babysitter for their two children while he is gone to Myanmar. His wife could not get any vacation from her work place with such a short notice. Naturally there occurred some tension between them. However, Missionary Paulus Kwon intervened in this problem and everything had been solved. By the grace of God, three of us met at the Bangkok airport and we headed to Myanmar together in the same airplane.
Each day the conference went on very graciously. When each day’s program was over, they gathered in groups, wrote personal testimonies, and then they prepared the next day’s lecture by answering the questions. Then at 8:00 am the next morning they gathered in groups again and shared their testimonies to each other. The Holy Spirit worked mightily among them. They learned that our God is the God of hope and that God has a wonderful hope for each of them. God called a 75 year old hopeless man, Abraham, and He gave His hope to his life. We praised God who did not relinquish His hope on Abraham even though he made many mistakes but fulfilled it by His love and faithfulness. We learned that believing God means believing His wonderful hope upon one’s life. Humanly speaking, they have not much hope living in such a poverty stricken and politically devastated country. They, however, found hope in God through the God of Abraham. And many of them made a decision to live by faith like Abraham. On the last day of our conference, we received good news that Shepherd Mei Sah got a new born baby, a son! We believe that it is a good sign for CMI ministry since he was born at the CMI Bible House. Also I thank God for the North America CMI coworkers who supported this mission trip with prayer and monetary support. We bought one pig for the entire company during the conference that they could enjoy special meals for a couple of days. Also we could invite the staff members to the hotel and had a one-dayconference with a special Bible study and fellowship.
Part II. MUST has become a multi-mission center
First, MUST as the base camp. It has been 5 years since MUST started its mission in 2007. By this time, MUST has become a multi-mission center. It has started with 18 students and with five faculty members five years ago, but presently they have about 60 registered students and a total of 12 faculty members. During the past three years, 25 people graduated the seminary. From among them, one has become a missionary, five of them entered the Masters of Divinity program, two of them are serving the MUST seminary as staff members, eight of them are serving the CMI ministry at Dagon University, and the rest of them are serving their hometown churches. At first we did not plan nor expect that we would serve multiple missions. We only thought about how to manage the seminary itself. But somehow God is establishing MUST as a base camp for various missions. It is nothing but the work of God. In obedience to His will, we only keep pray that 1,000 pastors/shepherds and 100 missionaries would be raised through the MUST ministry and that it may become a world mission center. Now I want to explain how God established it one after another.
Second, the local church. In the spring of 2008, a cyclone, which was like hurricane Sandy, devastated the Yangon area and a quarter of million people were presumed dead. Humanly speaking, it was nothing but a disaster and calamity. However, God’s way of working is mysterious; God turned it into His providence. North American CMI, Korean CMI, and German CMI sent them a relief fund. Then Pastor David and MUST students helped the homeless people by giving them food and blankets, also by rebuilding hundreds of the broken houses. Moved by their relief effort, many of Buddhist neighbors came to MUST and they became Christians through Bible study and were baptized. They had to take care of these unexpected new converts, and a church was born for them inside MUST. This local church has been led by Pastor David’s wife, Mou Mou with the help of several MUST members. About 20 members of them have meetings and Bible studies during the weekdays. And they join the MUST members at every Sunday for worship service. They are growing in faith that some of them attended this conference from the first day to the end. Also they contribute their tithes to the church.
Third, the orphanage mission. The 2008 cyclone produced a lot of orphans in Yangon. In 2009 MUST welcomed four of them to their campus and began to take care of them. Last year they redeemed a baby girl from an orphan collector who tried to sell her to another orphan trader for money. MUST paid him ransom money and they brought her into MUST campus. They named her “Phoebe.” They also found a homeless mother and her two children on the street. Her husband died of cancer and she had no choice but to sell herself for survival. MUST also brought this whole family into the seminary last year. The mother got a job as a chef in MUST campus and MUST is taking care of her two children including their education. This time I found out that there are altogether 19 orphans in MUST campus including this family. They share their lodging with the girl students. With this increasing number of the orphans, the MUST campus has become a more crowded and bustling place than ever before. Pastor David said that some of the orphans are from Christian families. Unless we take care of them, they would be sent to the Buddhist temples and become Buddhists. Someone commented that those orphans inside MUST are lucky to be abandoned because they are now in a better place to be raised as children of God. Thank God that He provided 11 sponsors so far for these orphans! In a country like Myanmar where Christianity is still persecuted and evangelism is difficult, the orphanage ministry is very important for the long term mission. We can raise them in the gospel of Christ from their young age and raise them as Jesus’ disciples. We must somehow take care of them as much as we can for our God is the God of the orphans and widows.
Fourth, CMI ministry. On the first day of our arrival in Yangon, we visited two CMI Bible Houses near the Dagon University. The East Bible House is managed by Shepherd Mei Sah. He runs this Bible House together with three intern shepherds who just graduated MUST last spring. The West Bible House is managed by Shepherd Samuel along with three intern shepherds. After they came back from the trip to India CMI last spring, they began to have an independent ministry from MUST. These days they have their own Sunday worship service; they also manage their own finances. Only once a week they meet with Pastor David at MUST on Friday and have a prayer meeting and Bible study together. During the conference I met them every day in the afternoon and studied the word of God and gave them practical tips on how to build up the campus ministry. Especially I had 1:1 Bible study with Pastor David every night and he experienced the power and taste of the word of God.
One of their prayer topics is for financial independence. From the beginning of their ministry, I emphasized that they must have a long term plan to support themselves financially. After the trip to India CMI, they became very clear that they must become independent financially. However, what they can do right now for self-support is very much limited. The area is surrounded by a rice field and they have no place to work. So the shepherds in the East Bible House pitched a tent in front of the house and they rent a mobile phone to customers and received a fee from them based on the minutes they used. The shepherds in the West Bible House opened a snack shop in front of the house and they tend the shop turn by turn. Their monthly income is very meager but their spirit is admirable.
Generally speaking, all Christians in Myanmar belong to the low level of society. It is because of the ever existing persecution and segregation policy of the government and of the Buddhist leaders regarding the Christians. It is also because of the Christians’ poor educational background. Most of the Christians, residing in big cities like Yangon and Mandalay, came from the northern mountain areas where there are no universities. They have no chance to get a regular job with no degree and no certification. So it is very difficult for them to get into the main stream of society. The only way to break this pathetic cycle of poverty is through getting a proper education in the universities and through getting prominent jobs. So from two years ago I began to encourage MUST students to get into Dagon University when they finish the program in MUST. Many students responded to it and they made a decision to enter Dagon University after graduating MUST. Additionally they pledged to pioneer Dagon University while studying there. So CMI ministry was born at Dagon University from last year and right now we have 8 intern shepherds as coworkers under the leadership of Shepherd Mei Sah and Samuel. Still many students at MUST want to join CMI ministry and want to study at Dagon University with a vision of God in their hearts.
Dawt Hler Par is a 20 year old girl. She came to MUST four years ago at the age of 16. She could not finish even high school at her hometown because of poverty.However, she studied hard at MUST and graduated in first place last spring. Four years ago she could not speak even one sentence of English properly. But at the graduation ceremony she gave the representative address in English. She accepted God’s vision upon her life and decided to participate in CMI ministry at Dagon Uni. But she could not get an admission from the university because she has no high school diploma. So she registered at a private school from last April to get a high school diploma. By the grace of God, one sponsor supported her with full tuition for one year. She is exerting very hard that she always maintains the first place in her class. As I had an interview with her this time, she revealed her vision that she wants to get into a medical school and wants to serve her people and the work of God with her future profession. The hope of God transformed such a hopeless country girl into a woman of faith and vision. When many students graduate the universities and get regular jobs in the near future, it might become a stepping stone for their financial independence.
There is another encouraging story. Deacon Park from East Mission Fellowship in Korea who joined the last mission trip in February with his wife, is praying to open a Korean style fashion clothing shop in Yangon. Right now the dominating cultural influence in Myanmar is from Korean dramas and K-pop. Deacon Park has a successful business in Bu-yeo, Korea as the owner of three clothing shops. If he opens his clothing and accessary shops in Yangon, he could hire about 20 CMI members. So he is going to make another trip to Yangon next February for marketing research and investigation.
Fifth, MUST headquarter building project. Many coworkers have been praying for the MUST headquarter building project. Lastspring suddenly the city officers from the health department came to MUST for investigation without notice. They pointed out several unsanitary conditions in the MUST campus, especially at the boy’s dorm. Two weeks later the major ordered them to shut down the school. We all prayed for God’s mercy and help for them. By the grace of God, Pastor David could have a meeting with the chair of the health department and explained him their situation. He also promised him that by next year, the boy’s dorm would be well renovated. God moved the chairman’s heart and he allowed them to reopen the school last June only by cleaning and renovating the boy’s dorm. So by this time constructing a new building is no more an option for MUST. We have no choice but to have a new building by next summer if we want to continue the school.
By taking into account economic efficiency, a two story building with eight large rooms was designed as a headquarter building. It will provide a main office, a library and a couple of class rooms. Also a part of it would be used as the boy’s dorm and the teachers’ dorm as well. Then the girl students would have more space and room by sending the orphans to the rooms which are presently occupied by the teachers. The expected building cost is about $70,000. Right now a committee for the building project has been formed at MUST and I am one of them. All of the staff, students and church members – even the children made pledges for the building project offering. Boy students volunteered to offer their labor in order to save on the construction cost. Already several coworkers in Houston, LA, Seattle and Lansing have made donations in such sacrificial ways. The oversea coworkers from Italy, Australia and Lithuania also sent us their 5 loaves and 2 fish for this project just after reading my mission report. Some of the Korean and German CMI churches promised to participate in the fund raising campaign. If God is pleased, He may allow us to collect this year’s Christmas gift for them for this cause. Right now MUST is serving multi missions. MUST must stand firm as the base camp for Myanmar and for world mission. The future CMI workers for Myanmar campuses will be raised and trained through MUST.
- Pray for Pastor David Lian to stand firm with the hope of God for Myanmar.
- Pray for Shepherd Mei Sah (East Bible House) and Shepherd Samuel (West Bible House) to preach the gospel to the Dagon University students and raise disciples of Jesus Christ.
- Pray for the MUST seminary to serve multi missions as the base camp (to raise up 1,000 shepherds and 100 missionaries).
- Pray for the construction of the MUST headquarter building by June of next year.
Thank you very much for your unceasing prayer support for the Myanmar mission. God bless you and your ministry.
Missionary Peter Chung