ENW recently returned from our third tour in Myanmar. The opening comment that essentially summarizes our time there is “blessing on blessing”.
God met every need for our trip. The financial need (over $8K for this country where the average pastor’s salary is $20-$25 per month), the need to re-schedule our flights within about 48 hours of departure (to avoid China), and the need of a teaching companion. Nevin Hersch, an elder-in-training from our sending church in Somerset, PA traveled with me along with his oldest son, Nevin Steve. Another blessing is that we all sustained health and safety throughout the three-week time away (we never take this aspect for granted).
The teaching emphasis this year was on Foundations for the Christian Family. Because of that focus, we invited the pastor’s wives to accompany them to the conference, breaking the cultural precedent of the wives virtually never traveling with their husbands to these kinds of meetings. They typically remain at home with obvious responsibilities there. God gave us 16-17 wives to attend both weeks of the training which was exciting to be sure. Our total attendance this year, including the wives, was about 65 for each week of training.
One of the highlights of having the wives there was our desire to make sure each couple left with a set of wedding bands which virtually none of them had because of the cost. One young couple told me they “borrowed” rings for their ceremony since they simply could not afford them. We had a “ring ceremony” of sorts as each couple determined the sizes needed. We then bought little “gift boxes” to package the rings, then the following day was “ring presentation” day. The couples were very excited and grateful for their new bands.
My travel companion, Nevin Hersch, helped me with teaching at the conferences in Myanmar this year. Nevin did a wonderful job in preparing as well as communicating family truths to these faithful men and women. It was a joy, help, and personal encouragement to have him along. Following are some of Nevin’s comments regarding his three weeks with ENW in Myanmar:
Have you ever beheld a beautiful sunrise, sunset, or some grand geographic feature, and snapped a picture only to be quite disappointed at the uninspiring photographic reproduction? I believe my words here will be much like that photograph. It was a delight to have my oldest son as a traveling/ministry companion as we joined with Pastor Hill for the Myanmar ministry. This was my first ENW trip where I had the opportunity to minister alongside of Pastor Hill. Both my son and I greatly enjoyed our time of ministry together with him. It was such a joy to fellowship around truth pertaining to the Biblical Christian Family with these pastors and their wives. Unpacking the rich biblical truths that are highlighted below with these dear brothers and sisters was such an encouragement personally. It was a great privilege and incredibly humbling to see the hunger of these pastors to grow personally and for ministry in their local assemblies. It is very exciting to know God will accomplish His purposes through the Truth we were able to declare in Myanmar!
Foundations for the Christian Family Training included:
- The Theology of Marriage
- Conflict Resolution
- Becoming God’s Kind of Wife
- Becoming God’s Kind of Husband
- Defining the Role of a Parent
- Nurture and Admonition
- Evaluating & Responding to Manipulation and Disrespect
- The Bible, Teens, and Sex
- Helping Your Child Have a Heart for God
By the grace of God, the pastors and their wives returned to their church ministries better equipped to shepherd their own families and teach their church families to do the same. An added blessing is the training of men and women who are eager to learn and grateful for what they are taught.
Another highlight to our time in Myanmar was having several of the men who attended the conference for the first time indicate they wanted to “catch up” by obtaining the training ENW offered the first two years (Unit One: Foundations for Biblical Ministry and Unit Two: Foundations for Biblical Counseling.) This training will be done under the leadership of Pastor Dal Go Mang, ENW’s point man (organizer, translator, and II Timothy 2:2 man for Myanmar) and his selected group of six pastors that he is mentoring in between our annual conferences. Pastor Mang and the other pastors will prepare for and provide the training for these men. “Nationals equipping nationals” is a challenge we are thankful they are willing to embrace.
Another component of the ENW ministry is getting into the churches of these local pastors. This year we visited and ministered in two village churches: the villages of Lum Zang (Pastor Pau Hau Zung) and Dim Lo (Pastor Khai Hem). As we left the village of Dim Lo, it was such a blessing to give a month’s salary worth to both the pastor and youth pastor. Pastor Khai Hem and his youth pastor receive 60,000 kyats (apx $41) and 30,000 kyats (apx $20) respectively. Praise the Lord for the men willingly and faithfully serving Him in these local ministries on such a meager monthly income!
On a practical note, Pastor Dal Go Mang and his family were grateful to receive enough money from donations given to them during this trip to install a hot water heater for their bathroom shower (which is detached from their house). Brother Mang said it “hurt” to take a shower because of the cold temperatures. This new equipment was the result of a generous gift from the First Emmanuel Baptist Church of Summerville, SC and an anonymous gift from a couple from Grace Bible Fellowship in Somerset, PA.
Travel and training in this country is the most expensive of all the ones ENW has the privilege of serving. Because these men have virtually nothing to contribute to the overall cost of their training, we simply want to be as much of a blessing as we can while God supplies the needs. With that in mind, please consider a generous gift as ENW plans for next year’s training in Myanmar. Every personal gift is tax-deductible (www.equippingnationals.org).
Thank you all so much for your faithful prayers, support, and interest in preparing the next generation of shepherds for the churches of Jesus Christ. Chris and I hope this letter is extremely encouraging for each of you!