In just a few short weeks I will be arriving back on the Myanmar Institute of Theology (MIT) campus in Yangon, Myanmar. This coming semester I will be teaching New Testament Theology to about 90 Master of Divinity Students, preaching at the opening convocation, and serving as spiritual director for students. I'm particularly eager to roll out the new NT Theology curriculum, in both English and Burmese. This course is critical to provide students with a substantial biblical foundation for a lifetime of preaching, teaching, and sharing the Gospel.
|Lecture on "The Relevance of Christianity for Today"
MIT is already known for its high academic aspirations and for attracting the best and brightest Christian students in Myanmar. Yet, to adequately prepare young men and women to be future leaders, pastors, spouses, parents, and witnesses for Christ more than academic excellence is needed. My prayer is that MIT would increasingly excel as a rich spiritual training ground as well. To this end, I (along with others) have been praying for a growing awareness on campus of this critical need and for more mentors and activities to help students develop spiritually.
God is answering these prayers.
For example, this past year I have been given more opportunities to speak, teach, and write on Christian spirituality on MIT campus and elsewhere throughout Myanmar. I was invited to lecture on the relevance of Christianity to all entering undergraduates. I've been asked to write journal articles and give special lectures on Spirit-led living and leadership. I'm working with the chaplain to provide group spiritual direction to a handful of students and to envision a spirituality center in the new 90th anniversary building to be built over the next two years.
Then, this past spring, a door unexpectedly opened for me to submit a proposal for the MIT 2018-19 school theme. As I prayed about what to suggest, I suddenly realized that this was an opportunity to lift up the priorities of spiritual growth and Christian service to the whole campus for a whole year. Many proposals were submitted, but MIT faculty members overwhelmingly agreed with me that, "Growing in Christ, Preparing for Service" sums up well what MIT needs to focus on this year.
The one whose theme is selected is also given the privilege of writing a Bible study to provide biblical background for it to all the students, staff, faculty, trustees, and supporting churches. Writing and publishing such material in both English and Burmese provide excellent opportunities to reach the 1300+ MIT students plus faculty, staff, and thousands of other people throughout Myanmar.
For an amplified version of the Bible study in English, please see an essay that I published last week on my blog site, entitled, "Are Our Priorities Right?"
(The Burmese version of the Bible study can be found in the fhlglobal.org Resource Library.)
On a personal note, this has been a tough summer for our family and for the Faith, Hope, and Love Board of Directors. My mother-in-law, Lucy, is valiantly fighting esophageal cancer, facing many daily challenges affecting the quality of her life. Thankfully, Jill is making some progress with her own health struggles, but the road continues to be long to recovering her energy and ability to work. Then, tragically, one of our beloved Faith, Hope, and Love Board members and close personal friends, Pete Strommen, died suddenly of a massive heart attack while riding his bike in the Colorado mountains. This is huge loss on both a personal level and for the ministry of Faith, Hope, and Love Global. (See below for a special tribute to Pete.)
Yet, amid suffering and struggle, we are seeing the light of Christ shining in many ways. This is the hope we have in Christ--not that God spares us from suffering, but that his presence comforts us and his Spirit works to bring good out of our troubles.
Much global attention is being focused on the ongoing horrors in various regions of Myanmar, and rightly so. We have little or no influence to stop the abuses and the suffering, but there is much we can do to educate and equip the next generation of Christian leaders to stand tall and to serve Christ in various ways throughout the country, and we're always praying for more ways to make a difference.
This month I will be doing my final preparations for teaching New Testament Theology, preaching, and teaching at MIT and in various other contexts this fall. Then, on October 1st, I return to Myanmar to carry on the work in person. Please pray for me as I hold up Christ's light in my teaching, preaching, writing, and coaching this fall. Thank you for your love and support.
Serving Christ with you,