Today marks the first day of our third teaching class here in Kigali, Rwanda. Mondays are always the hardest, and today was no exception. We started in Theology 101 at about 9:15 with a study about the Bible itself. I usually cover the basics including the foundational facts of what revelation is, how it came in the OT, and how the NT completed God’s self-disclosure of Himself to humanity. I always stress the fact that God’s revelation is complete, final, inerrant, and authoritative in every area of life. I don’t think I took a breath until about 11:00 when the forty or so students asked me for a break. I felt pretty proud of myself for having initiated the first signs of tiredness upon my students instead of the other way around. When they got back from their short break outside the building, they began with a series of questions about the previous lecture.
Poverty by Grace
Rwanda has come a long way since the Genocide that killed hundreds of thousands of people (that is a subject I will definitely address later because I have already heard the stories of several women and what they endured), but the country is still very poor. Although new, modern buildings are going up, the infrastructure is still medieval. I went for a couple of errands this morning with Innocent as my guide and protector. As we walked, I smelled the sewage coming from the drainage ditches and saw everywhere the poverty. The electrical systems are downright dangerous with exposed wired and taped wires running inside and outside shops and houses.
Where to begin. I feel like my heart is chopped in pieces and left all over the world!! Having arrived in Rwanda two days ago, that is already happening again!! First, let me say what an amazing ministry God has given us! I can’t conceive of a more rewarding way to spend your life than investing in people who absorb every bit of knowledge possible so that they can pass it along to their people!! Sometimes, at home, when we are working hard to raise funding and keep up with the mundane bookkeeping that is required of us, it is easy to lose sight of the mission. Not here. We know exactly what God has called us to do!!
Today begins our blog for the 2014 Rwanda and Congo classes. The big difference this year is Grace’s presence here with me. This changes the entire trip for several reasons. The first is that the church leaders here in Rwanda have wanted to meet her for over two years now. Last year when I left, Pastor Denys, the leader among the Baptists here in Rwanda said as I left for the airport, “Dr Bruce, you must bring your wife with you next year to teach classes here for the pastor’s wives.”
Expanded Opportunity in Myanmar
We are more than encouraged about the open door for GBTF in Myanmar. One teaching site in this Buddhist stronghold has now blossomed to three. Our class counts will quadruple or more as a result of these open doors. Remember, the mission of GBTF is to equip national pastors and other church leaders so that they can be more effective in winning their nations and building strong, doctrinally sound churches.
The attached picture is of Pastor Mung, his wife, and some of their family. They have 10 children, all of whom are involved in their ministry. Khaul (far right in the picture) has attended Bruce's classes for the past two years. He arranged a one-day teaching session for both Bruce and Grace. With almost 100 students, this one day was an amazing encouragement to us. They were so appreciative for the teaching and so gracious in their reception of us. Here is an email from Khaul:
Well, happy your journey and safely back home.
We would like to express our great joy made us happy too, all you Dr & Mrs Grace teaching classes, We appreciated you Dr. and Mrs Grace, your commitment for teaching Biblical Baptist faith. We can not express how we feel in the bottom of our heart. It is the need of Myanmar, the Biblical Baptist faith is very few and we some time thought that we are lonely. The Lord answered our humble prayer and now we meet face to face.
Together with you in His grace,
This email underscores our vision. There are faithful, Godly servants of God in many countries without the resources we take for granted. They often feel isolated ("lonely") and pray for some training. We love Khaul and his family. They are an amazing ministry family, and we count it our great privilege to be able to work with them in the future. Please pray for the three host pastors for GBTF in Myanmar (Pastor Siama, Pastor Mung, and Pastor David). Please pray for continued open doors into this country. Please pray for the finances necessary to fund GBTF's training ministry in Myanmar and other nations as well.
Last Teaching Day
Well, today was our last full ministry day here in Yangon, and it was probably the busiest and the most profitable. Having been invited to speak and lecture at Yangon Bible College, we headed across this sprawling city about 8:30 and didn’t arrive at the location until 9:30. It was in a completely different part of the city than we had ever been before. This part of the city is actually two parts. It is in one part the poorest and most primitive part of the area and also has a huge bridge and road construction project going on in it. We drove along one road that was just filled with the normal shanty type businesses for miles and also noticed on the other side of the road miles of squatter’s shanties. These make-shift houses were primarily grass huts with bamboo framing side by side stretching for a couple of miles along the main road we were on.
When we arrived, the compound was gated in an extremely poor and primitive looking area that smelled like nothing I had smelled since I had been in Yangon. It was in the middle of a number of shops which engulfed the compound and a number of open sewers. It nearly took my breath away for a moment until I was able to adjust. The buildings were all fairly small and interconnected. We walked through what seemed like a maze until we were finally led into the presence of the pastor of Ebenezer Myanmar Biblical Baptist Church and president of Yangon Bible College, Dr. Thawng Za Mung. He is a small man, in his seventies, who has a ready smile and a talkative nature. He warmly greeted us and in a few minutes Grace and I were ushered off to our respective chapel rooms to speak to both the men and the women.
Grace had 52 women in her class, the largest she has had since we have been here. I had about 25 young Bible students and men in my chapel class. I lectured for about two and half hours on I Cor. 12-14. Normally this lecture would take only an hour and a half. The young men in the college, along with the older adult men appeared to enjoy and appreciate the teaching. So much of the dynamic of a class depends on the ability and animation of your translator. If you have good chemistry, you usually have a reasonably good outcome to a lecture or sermon. If you don’t well, you just pray it is profitable anyway.
After the lecture time were taken to the small eating room where we were served rice, 2 whole baked fish, cooked vegetables, traditional soup, an egg dish with bananas for dessert. The fish was the best fish we had eaten on this trip. Even Grace ate a helping or two of it. After dessert and some conversation about returning for a week of teaching next year, we were ushered to the chapel room where it was set up for the entire school chapel . I deliberately kept the afternoon message short, and it was very well received. I think the temperature in that room was over a hundred. By the time I got finished I was completely drenched. They then presented us with some gifts and after pictures we were brought back to the hotel.
We now have a wonderful problem to figure out for the foundation’s future in Myanmar. The question is: how many trips will it now require to manage the two additional teaching sites we have acquired in the last 24 hours? This is a good problem to have. We think that at two separate trips of two weeks per visit, we will be able to do all of what is now necessary. God is opening this country right before our eyes. The future here looks very bright for continual training of pastors and church leaders. Pray that God will give us committed partners this next year as we continue to raise the financial ability of the foundation in 2014.
Praise God for His goodness and grace,