Gateshead minister Gordon Brown reports on his recent visit
I have just returned from a trip to Myanmar, representing the URC at a round table meeting of partner churches to the Presbyterian Church Myanmar (PCM). The meeting was held in the conference room of Tahan Theological College where Elaine and I spent a month last November teaching conversational English to the students. It was good to meet up with staff members who were awaiting the arrival of their students at the beginning of June.
The meeting was coordinated by a URC minster, Rev Philip Woods, who is Programme Secretary, Mission Enabling of Council for World Mission, based in Singapore. Other partner churches who had sent representatives included the Church of Scotland, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand, Presbyterian Church in Republic of Korea and Presbyterian Church of Taiwan. We held discussions with the Moderator, General Secretary and Associate General Secretary of PCM and other officers, some of whom had only been in post for three weeks.
We learned of the ongoing works of the PCM and the projects they have ongoing, including the Children Development Board which runs an orphanage and the Agape Hospital which provides clinic and inpatient care. Indeed, we were able to visit these projects and gain an insight to the opportunities presented and difficulties faced in running such operations. Finance is of course a major issue in providing these social facilities, but PCM have a vision to expand their activities.
The Theological College continues to provide ministerial training to some hundred students, male and female from different denominations. They have long term plans to develop their campus and offer further education to a wider range of students.
PCM are encouraging missionaries to be placed in remote areas of the country, especially in Rakhine State where they have been successful in bring people to Christ. The mission work also hopes to expand on their provision of dispensary facilities in villages.
Unfortunately my stay did not include a Sunday in Tahan, but we were able to attend Sunday worship at one o’clock in Yangon, three flights of stair up to their sanctuary. As we arrived a one hour Sunday School class was finishing before our two hour service which was interspersed with songs accompanied by two large drums. We also gave greetings from our home churches.
From heavy monsoon rains, with temperatures rising to high 30’s it was in stark contrast to our current weather!