I want to tell you perhaps the most amazing story that has come out of Global Baptist Training Foundation. You may remember that when we began GBTF, we chose to live near family in Florida when we are in the US. Down the street from our home is a Publix grocery store, and in that store is a sushi shop. The independent owner of that sushi shop is Sing, a young man from Myanmar. Sing left home when he was 16 because there is very little future for young people in his country. Because he left as a refugee, he is unable to return home to see his family and has not seen them in 8 years. He has and continues to work very hard, sending money home to his family in a remote village in Myanmar.
We were told about Sing by friends who knew of our annual travels to Myanmar, so we introduced ourselves. We have had Sing in our home for meals several times, he has done a private sushi party for our family, and he has even taken us out to dinner. He told us his family is Christian (which, in Myanmar, means you are not Buddhist). But we have found out that his family are born again believers, attend a Baptist church, and had been praying for Sing. They prayed for Christians to come into his life. Last fall, Sing was in a terrible car accident and probably should have died. But he didn't. God has used that incident to bring this young man to Himself.
Last year, Bruce was asked by our host pastor's father to travel to his town and teach. So, this week Bruce is in Kalemyo, a very remote area of Myanmar. Guess who else lives in Kalemyo? Sing's family. Last night, they came to Bruce's hotel to meet him, thank him, and bring gifts. Tonight, he is their guest for dinner. Their son is all the way on the other side of the world just down the street from our home in Florida. Only God can work like this!!
As a post script to this amazing and very sweet story, Sing has told us that there are 14 young people in our area from Myanmar. They are all believers and meet together every week for Bible study and prayer. We are invited to their meeting when Bruce returns. Also, the man in a burgundy longhi is the pastor of Sing's family's church. He came along as the translator since none of Sing's family speaks English. He has asked Bruce to open yet another class in this northern Myanmar area.
Grace Snavely, MEd
Driving over to the teaching site across town this morning was not just another day. It actually was the best day so far because today we graduated just under sixty men and women from another extensive course of theology from Global Baptist Training Foundation! That may sound mundane to a lot of modern ears, but it’s really music to ours. Remember, They must attend about 45 hours of classes and take and pass four quizzes over the class content. They then leave the course with the a copy of the class materials translated into their language and our admonition to use it to teach others.
Today as we got out of the car at the compound, I noticed that one of the two pigs which was helping create some of the stench in the hot afternoons was in the process of becoming a feast for the church family and school tonight for dinner. I wouldn’t get a chance to share it with them, but is does point out the sense of accomplishment they felt in completing their course of study today. They killed the fatted (or not so fatted) pig in celebration. [Note from Grace: I sent this picture earlier as a street vendor, Sorry for the miscommunication. I will repost the pictures here in their proper context!]
This was a very good good class, in fact the best so far. All of the quiz grades were 70 or better. The majority of the pastoral students and trainees averaged 90 on all four exams. It was wonderful to see such an effort being made and subsequently great results.
On the ride back to the hotel this afternoon, I took a big sigh and began to realize just how tired I was! Between the jet lag, spotty sleep patterns, and a busy schedule both at class and here at the hotel, I am excited about sleeping on Saturday and getting some down time. I will preach Sunday at Biblical Baptist Church for Dr. Mung, and then prepare to leave around 5:00 am Monday morning for the airport for travel up north.
Pray for this second week. It holds a lot of promise as a great teaching site for nearly sixty pastors and church leaders in this remote area. We are assured that once we have passed the credibility test here, we will build some wonderful classes in this strategic area in the future.
Bruce from Yangon
It's been a few days since I have communicated with you all. Monday I traveled up to Kalemyo by plane, and, after a small delay in Mandalay, (no pun intended), I arrived into Kalemyo about an hour and a half later than planned. Fortunately my host was not overly concerned and after a few minutes of waiting on my bag, we came to the hotel.
Actually, let me digress a moment. The baggage claim was quite unusual. You actually exit the airport to come out on the small street in front of the airport building (which is pretty small), and they bring your bags out in wooden flatbed wagons (see picture) pulled by three wheeled scooters. To collect your bag, you hand one of the helpers closest to you a one thousand kyet bill (it’s a dollar), and off you go! After arriving at the hotel, we talked for a few minutes together and then my host, Pastor David, left me to rest and get ready for Tuesday morning.
This morning I traveled less than two miles to the church and began the class with about 45 to 50 pastors, teachers, and other members of the church here. With the ring of the bell (see the picture: It is a World War II bomb that never exploded, and they turned this weapon meant for destruction into a church bell!), we started just after eight and taught till eleven when we broke for lunch. We came back promptly at 12 and continued until 3. We needed all the time we could get in order to make up for the lost day of class on Monday. We covered a lot of material today, and tomorrow we will see how well everyone does on the first quiz. They didn’t seem all that excited about it, but who knows. Maybe I’ll see some smiles tomorrow. After all, there are a lot of preachers in the class!
You would be amazed to see how many motor scooters there are here on the roads. It’s shocking. They come in droves and just keep coming from everywhere. That is how I got picked up this morning and taken back to the hotel today. Check out the pictures from today, particularly the pumpkins for lunch. I ate several whole pumpkins (about the size of brussel sprouts)!
Today Dr. Mung invited me to speak at Ebenezer Biblical Baptist Church, so I was privileged to speak to his congregation in the morning service. You may be able to notice by the videos of the service that there was a lot of singing. The service started about 9:30 and I finally stepped into the pulpit about 11:50, but the singing was worth every minute of it. I hope you enjoy some of the elements I was able to capture on video. Just like the majority of third world areas, Myanmar Christians are in no hurry to finish worship and praise. Unlike Westerners like us, they don't have many distractions in their lives, so they are not rushed about the service or time passing. They just enjoy it all.
After the service I extended a brief invitation for those who wanted to use their testimonies for Christ to count this year. Those in the group picture committed themselves to God to pray for and witness to someone that God would bring into their lives in 2015. Their intention is to use their personal testimony of salvation to evangelize the lost. When people commit to a spiritual task here, they take it quite seriously. It is refreshing to see. Pray for these who responded that God would greatly use their lives for Him.
On the way back to the hotel, several people and children filled the back of the sideboard truck to ride into Yangon after dropping me off. It is their version of a Sunday afternoon ride. Actually, they go into the market to buy supplies and things for the week, but its great to see how much fun they make out of something we would tend to overlook or just not care about.
I have rested most of this afternoon and now I am getting ready to go to bed for my 4:00 am rising to go the airport. It's off to my first trip up north in the morning. Please pray that God will give us another great week in a new teaching site.
The pictures of Friday's graduation here at Ebenezer Biblical Baptist are en route. We are depending on someone else's pictures because the Burmese girl who was using my phone to take pictures locked the phone up and didn't get any pictures. We will be getting those to you soon. Just another of the things we have come to expect and work with!!
Blessings to all,
Our Coffee Club members have sent many messages stating they are praying for their brothers and sisters in Christ in Myanmar who live under what we would call very difficult conditions. Here are a few things to help you understand this beautiful and needy country.
Only the main roads are paved, and they are over crowded with all types of vehicles, mostly older. Motor scooters carry several people and huge loads, as do bicycles. Trucks with covers over the beds serve as inexpensive public transportation, and people are literally hanging out the sides and even sitting on top of them!
Food is very basic, consisting mostly of rice and cooked vegetables. Meat is a luxury. We are attaching a picture of a street vendor butchering a pig right along the road. Yum!
Housing is usually a shack-like hut with many people living in the same room or two rooms!
89% of Myanmar is Buddhist. There are monk trainees all along the streets (in burgundy) and every neighborhood has a golden pagoda. There are massive pagodas in the cities. These people need Christ, and we are overjoyed to see young people in our GBTF classes who have dedicated their lives to winning Myanmar for the Savior.
Week one of three has ended. We will send you pictures and updates on the Friday graduation over the weekend. Keep the prayers coming!
Bruce and Grace Snavely
I am always amazed at the conditions of this place when I come to Burma. I am ministering in one of the poorest areas of Yangon and living conditions here would be a shock to most westerner's senses. For instance, when you pull into the housing area where Biblical Baptist Church resides you are instantly aware of the sheer desperation of the lifestyle.
The cramped narrow dirt roads are lined with shanty home businesses offering such things as bananas, sliced watermelons, whole melons, and a menagerie of personal items like cigarettes, matches, various and sundry vegetables, and even plastic bottles of gasoline for the hundreds of motor scooters traveling the roadways. There are children everywhere along the streets, near their parent's vending stands, playing with anything they might be able to pick up. Stray dogs ramble along looking for scraps, while people are walking back and forth carrying bundles and bags of who knows what.
Then you begin to smell the open trench sewers and the rotting garbage that simply gets tossed by everyone. There is no such thing as a trash can. The ground is the trash can, and the green areas between houses, shanties, and animal pens are deep with long ago tossed trash that is rotting into the soil. I cannot describe the smell, but once you are in the area, you lose your sense of the odor and simply become part of it.
Today, as I entered the complex I realized that I was stepping over open sewers just yards away from some pigs which will eventually become food for the orphans and others who live here.
How blessed we are in America! We don't even realize it. Today, it was a great day to be a teacher. The hours in the classroom flew by as the students listened, questioned, and learned. Don't forget to pray tonight for Burma. It desperately needs more preachers and teachers of the Word. This is the only hope of this country and its beautiful people. This is the land where Adoniram Judson came and loved unto death.
Today marked our first day in our new teaching site in Yangon. It is Biblical Baptist Church of Myanmar and was begun by Dr. Mung in 1989. They live in one of the poorest sections of Yangon and have raised four buildings to house their school, church, and dormitory space for their adopted children. Today in our first class we had both the area pastors and also many younger men who are completing their basic Biblical education in preparation to serve the Lord.
We began our journey this morning in the study of Interpretation of Scripture. Every student received a complete theological syllabus in the Chin dialect. I told them that they have a copy of the notes so they can, in time, master the information. Then they are to take this training to other young men and women who will learn what they have learned.
Tomorrow morning they will take their first quiz. They all seemed genuinely excited about learning and training others. We will teach from 9 to 3:30 each day this week with a quiz each day. On Friday, they will take their final quiz, receive a final lecture, and then graduate at about 3:00 in the afternoon. I will speak for Dr. Mung's church on Sunday morning. On Monday I will fly out for Kalaymeo to the north.
Please remember to pray for each student. I will be taking pictures of them this week so each one who wants to sponsor a pastor can see one. Please keep praying for this first class that God would raise up more leaders.
BS from Yangon, Myanmar