A trip was made to Yangon by Elder David Jessup and Deacon Jonathon Kamps, delegates from Hope’s Council, from February 18 to March 1. The goal of this visit was to lead studies and discussion on the true church and the offices in the church, topics that were requested by Rev. Titus and the Council of the Yangon congregation. The Yangon Council also made special request to study why we believe that the speaking in tongues along with other signs and miracles were unique to the work of the apostles in the early New Testament church and no longer exist in the church of today.
The studies were well attended and were all followed by excellent discussion. Elder Jessup also had the opportunity to read sermons prepared by Hope’s own pastor, Rev. David Overway, for both services on each of the Sundays during the delegation’s visit.
Here are pictures and some more details for each of the days that the delegation was present in Yangon.
- Saturday 2/20
- Sunday 2/21
- Monday 2/22
- Tuesday 2/23
- Wednesday 2/24
- Thursday 2/25
- Friday 2/26
- Saturday 2/27
- Sunday 2/28
- Monday 2/29
Rev. Titus picked up Elder Jessup and Deacon Kamps around 9:30 AM. He did not have to teach catechism because most of the children and young people had exams at school.
The delegation headed to downtown Yangon after meeting up with Rev. Titus. Since Rev. Titus’ computer and phone were becoming outdated, the delegation visited some electronics stores to help him update his technology. These stores are often on the first floor of the city buildings with apartments in the floors above.
The image above shows typical electrical wiring in Yangon. When it rains, the government has to shut off the power grid in order to prevent shorting. During monsoon season the power is usually shut off because of all the rain.
Street market vendors are a common sight in Yangon. Many vendors sell food, but other goods range from computers, phones, and other electronics to shoes and old antiques.
Above is a vendor selling seafood.
This man is carrying birds, specifically Myanmar sparrows. Buddhist culture is characterized by performing good deeds, so people may purchase to let a bird go free in order to make merit.
A new laptop was ordered since Rev. Titus’ old machine was getting slow and running low on hard drive space. His iPhone was also upgraded to a newer version that will allow him to FaceTime on a larger screen for live classes or meetings here in the U.S.
With the recent developments in Myanmar government, foreign manufacturers much like ABB (shown above) or Chevrolet (shown below) are now able to establish shops in this country. It is encouraging to see such economic developments for with this type of progress also comes the ability to freely preach the gospel.
Timothy, a member of the Yangon congregation, picked Elder Jessup and Deacon Kamps up at 11:00 AM to head to the church which is also Rev. Titus’ home. Once at the church, they were able to catch up with old friends and meet new acquaintances.
Elder Jessup read two sermons, prepared by Rev. Overway, while pausing at intervals for Rev. Titus to translate into Burmese.
Since these sermons are normally almost an hour long in one language, the congregation sat through a 2 hour 45 minute morning service and a 2 hour 20 minute afternoon service. Both worship services went very well and even the young children listened very quietly.
The congregation is reading an article from the creeds. Part of there worship service is to read a section of the creeds in unison. Rev. Titus also provides a 10-15 minute explanation of the section that was read. Since many of the congregation came from a Pentecostal or Baptist background, they do not have familiarity with the creeds and this allows the congregation to learn them.
After the morning service, it was lunch time. The members of the congregation took shifts eating due to the limited space. Though these members are shown eating at a high table while sitting on stools, sitting on the ground at a low table and eating with their fingers is more common practice. The delegation was treated to one of Cer Te’s fantastic meals (Cer Te is Rev. Titus’ wife) and had good conversation about the the morning service.
Shown above is a cell tower with a generator backup that is next to the church. The cell tower pays rent to the church for the use of the land. Some of the men in the congregation are also paid to maintain the cell tower.
A Myanmar toilet is not something that Westerners are well accustomed to. A person must squat over the toilet rather than sit. Water is readily available for flushing and cleaning.
Here was the men’s quarters for the seminar. The total number of men that attended the seminar was 37, and about 25 men resided in this area for the week. Mosquito nets, mounted to the left wall, were used while the men slept at night.
This is Timothy, Rev. Titus’ younger brother and a personal taxi service for the delegation. The delegation greatly enjoyed their time with Timothy, and his great sense of humor kept them well amused. He is very crucial in helping maintain the sound system for the church, and often can be found tinkering with the mics to get them in working order to Rev. Titus.
Elder Kyaw is shown in the image above. He is Rev. Titus’ father and served in the military until his leg was damaged by a land mine. He is also often called Pa Pa.
Timothy arrived at 9:00 AM to pick up the delegation from the hotel and begin the daily game of bumper cars on the way to the church.
At 9:30 AM, Elder Jessup began a study on the topic of the true church institute using scripture, the creeds, and Prof. David Engelsma’s books “Bound to Join” and “A Defense of the Church Institute.” The study broke for lunch around 12:30 PM, reconvened at 1:45 PM, and ended around 3:30 PM.
Discussion was very good, and there was good interaction and questions from the men on the topic. The man standing in the image above it Nan Tun. He is a pastor in a very remote village of about 20 people which, except for a handful, are all Buddhist. It took him two days to reach the seminar: the first day is all by canoe and the second day consists of bus hopping. He was the comedian of the men attending the seminar, always laughing or cracking a joke.
Motorcyles are actually illegal in Myanmar, but they are also a common sight since there are approximately 10 million of them on the road. It is a risk to ride a motorcycle, however, because on any given day the police may decide to impound the bike until the owner pays a fee to the police in order to release it.
At 9:00 AM, Timothy picked up the delegation, and they drove to the church for the second study of the week.
The topic of the study was “The Offices in the Church,” led by Deacon Kamps. The men started about 10:00 AM, broke for lunch at 12:30 PM, reconvened at 2:00 PM, and wrapped things up around 4:00 PM. The study went very well and the discussion was very profitable.
This is the kitchen for Rev. Titus’ house. Behind the women is a cistern used to hold water for various purposes including rinsing dishes. For cooking, however, bottled water is used. Timothy’s wife, Par Te, is preparing food while Rev. Titus’s daughter, Johanna, and Timothy’s daughter, Christine, help out.
The delegation was able to enjoy a hearty lunch of fish ball soup, Asian carp, a prawn dish, vegetable dish, and rice. Although bony, the Asian carp is quite good.
Deacon Kamps began to get a fever and took a little nap during lunch.
Standing are the pastors that attended the seminar (left to right): Rev. So Win, pastor of a congregation in Kale, Rev. Kep Mang (in the back) also from Kale, Rev. Titus, and Rev. Nan Tun.
Standing with Elder Jessup are elders in other churches across Myanmar.
Standing with Deacon Kamps are the deacons from other Myanmar congregations that attended the seminar.
The rest of the men that are standing all aspire to be office bearers within congregations across Myanmar.
Timothy shares a smile with Deacon Kamps.
Today Deacon Kamps was feeling very ill and had to rest at the hotel. Elder Jessup headed out with Timothy at 9:00 AM to the Wednesday study at the church.
The men studied necessity of membership in a true church, and discussed at length what this membership means and its basis in scripture and the creeds. Elder Jessup led the men through the idea that there is no salvation outside of the true church and examined the concepts of the communion of the saints, confessing the truth together, and safety within the flock. Many of the men did not have a good understanding of the topic so the discussion and questions were very good.
Lunch consisted of Cer Te’s chicken vegetable soup, a chicken dish, a beef dish, and a spicy vegetable dish with rice. Good eating! The green bowl in the background is used to cover the food in order to keep the bugs away. You also may notice the paste on the young lady’s face in the center of the picture: the paste is used as a cosmetic to improve complexion and helps with the hot weather.
This is the typical Burmese dining arrangement: several people sitting on the ground around a low table. Starting at the top right and going clockwise, the names are Moy Te, Timothy, Par Te, Christine, Mi Mi, and Johanna (Elder Jessup didn’t catch the elderly lady’s name).
Deacon Kamps was beginning to feel better today, so he was able to head to the church to lead his second study.
Deacon Kamps covered the duties of the offices in the church under the title, “The Practical Functions of the Special Offices.” He listed out the callings of each office, explained the various meetings and how they are run, and discussed many other things that take place within the offices.
The topic was well received by the men. Regarding office bearers, the men wanted to know how they are nominated, presented to the congregation, voted on, and installed. They also asked questions on how a pastor enters the ministry, inquiring on how a man feels the call to be a preacher all the way to how he is called and installed in another congregation.
The predominate view of church government in Myanmar is that the pastor runs the entire church. If a church even has elders or deacons, they do almost nothing and have no real authority. With the discussion and questions that followed Deacon Kamps’ study, it was evident that the men really saw the importance of all three offices within the church. It was a great blessing that Elder Jessup and Deacon Kamps were able to vividly show the truly good office that elders and deacons hold within the church of Christ. Rev. Titus told the delegation that the men in the study were impressed that they “live with them,” meaning that the delegation didn’t act any better than them. Other religious visitors have left the impression that they are a few steps above the Myanmar people.
The delegation was able to order pizza Thursday night for something a little more “American.”
Timothy picked up the delegation at 9:20 AM and they all headed to the church.
Traffic can get quite congested at intersections, and it is often a free-for-all. The gas station on the right was very new and was another example of the improving economic conditions in Myanmar. The last delegation that visited Myanmar noticed that that gas stations were few and far between. It was common to see vendors selling gas along the side of the road in little bottles.
Myanmar’s own Auto Parts Plus! Above is an example of a road-side vendor offering a variety of automotive components including a wide selection of car seats.
In Myanmar, most of the farmers and vendors rely on these gasoline powered tractors from China. They operate a single cylinder with a huge flywheel and make a very loud combustion noise without a muffler. They are quite common, sometimes hauling incredibly large loads that seem structurally impossible.
Since the delegation arrived at a time that was not the rainy season, a 45 minute downpour was very unexpected. The rain tore all the tarps down around the church, the power went out, and water starting trickling into the house through the roof since it was not yet prepared for the rainy season. To the delegation, it seemed that all the neighborhood geckos tried to find shelter in Rev. Titus’ house from the rain.
The red gates shown above are used to keep neighborhood Buddhists out of the church yard. The doors are shut during services since Buddhists would otherwise try to disrupt the congregation’s worship.
This group is the men that attended the seminar. Elder Jessup led a study and discussion in the morning on “The Falling Away of Speaking in Tongues, Signs, and Miracles After the Apostles.” In the afternoon, the delegation hosted an open discussion where the men could pick any topic. The seminar wrapped up at 4:30 PM.
In the image above, Deacon Kamps can be seen wearing his authentic Shan State style clothing that he purchased earlier in the week. He still was struggling to get over his illness, so by the end of the day he was quite weary and went straight to bed.
The Golden Guest Inn: host for the current and prior delegations that Hope has sent to Myanmar. The Golden Guest Inn is intended for all tourists and travelers since it is illegal for foreigners to sleep anywhere else in Myanmar except a hotel. This type of legislation poses a challenge for future delegations that may want to host seminars in more remote villages.
It was tough for Elder Jessup, who is quite tall, to find a bed in the Golden Guest that accommodated his size. He was forced to lie diagonal in his “twin-sized” bed, head pressed up against the wall with feet just dangling over the other corner, in order to get some suitable sleep.
Rev. Titus, Deacon Timothy, and Elder Soe Thein (left to right in the image below) showed up to the Golden Guest Inn at 9:30 AM for church-related discussion with the delegation.
They spent some time discussing their church’s budget and Deacon Kamps helped them categorize their expenses as well as provided some additional guidance in certain areas of the budget. They also reviewed the proper way to get congregational approval of their budget.
Next, they discussed the progress and development in the Yangon congregation since the last delegation in March 2015. The entire congregation confessed their faith and officially joined the church. Just prior to this delegation, Ah Lin, one of the men who attend Rev. Titus’ weekly doctrine classes, joined the church; several other people that attend are thinking to confess their faith as well. Rev. Soe Win and Rev. Nan Tun had expressed desire to Rev. Titus that Hope PRC send a delegation to their own villages for similar studies. These men are serious about organizing into properly instituted churches and are committed to the reformed faith, so it is important to Hope PRC in seriously considering these requests. We truly desire to show them the way.
Finally, the delegation discussed potential opportunity for the Yangon council to work with Hope PRC’s Reformed Witness Committee (RWC) on several projects including tutoring Yangon members in English, publishing Rev. Titus’ translations, and developing their version of the Psalter which the congregation uses for worship. The Yangon council was very interested and excited with this suggestion.
The group then sought out some lunch. Deacon Kamps went with his usual choice (cheese burger), although he has consistently been disappointed since the taste is not quite on par with an American cheese burger.
Above is an image of a street vendor that has some Asian carp, squid, and shrimp on ice.
The vendors in the foreground of this image are selling vegetables while near the top of the image, under the red umbrella, a vendor is selling pork.
Here is a closer image of the pork vendor. Keep in mind that temperatures during the day are consistently around 100°F which tend to create a quite ripe aroma around the meat vendors. The smell can be very powerful at times.
This KFC restaurant in Yangon is the first in all of Myanmar. The restaurant is two stories high and much bigger than any of the chain’s restaurants back in the States. It was also packed full of local Yangon residents.
Outside the second story window in KFC, a colorful Hindu temple can be seen. Hinduism accounts for a very small percentage of the religious people in Myanmar. A very significant majority of the people are Buddhists.
Ditches, such as the one shown above, can be seen on most streets. The ditches are sewer-like, so when sections of the cover are removed then curious smells fill the air.
The delegation was impressed with the amount of construction that was taking place in Yangon. In the background, a Buddhist pogoda rises above the other buildings.
The night before Sunday, Elder Jessup began to feel very ill as well and had a tough time catching any sleep. However, he gathered up his strength in the morning and the delegation met Timothy at 10 AM to head to the church for worship.
Elder Jessup read two more sermons prepared by Rev. Overway. The two services were based on 1 Peter 2:4-5 and Lord’s Day 32 from the Heidelberg Catechism, respectively. By this time he was feeling very comfortable working with Rev. Titus to translate the sermons.
The image above and below show almost every member of the Yangon congregation.
Here is Deacon Timothy with his wife, Par Te, and their three children.
Here is Elder Soe Thein with his wife, Ta Ta, and two of their six children.
Above is Rev. Titus’s family. Beginning on the left, the names are Jemima, Rev. Titus, Josiah, Cer Te, Jeanette , and Johanna.
In the images shown above and below are pictured various members of the congregation. The lady in the pink shirt on the left of the top image is Cer Te’s sister who runs an orphanage which the Yangon church oversees. Her husband left her, but she remained with the church. The children and young adults in the orphanage number less than ten, and they help maintain and run a farm that helps support the orphanage.
This is Ah Lin, his wife, and their daughter, Jasmine. They are very recent members to the Yangon congregation. (His wife’s name is a very difficult one to pronounce or remember, so she can go by the name, “Jasmine’s mom”)
On Monday, Timothy picked up the delegation at 10 AM and they were able to visit Ah Lin’s house before leaving for home. He was very pleased to receive them.
Ah Lin gets his water from an air-pressurized pump.
Like most people in Myanmar, Ah Lin does not own his own house but rather pays rent to a landlord.
Ah Lin is able to grow trees and plants on his property for food.
A quick stop was made on the way back to the Golden guest to check out a Myanmar tire shop.
When he was feeling ill, Deacon Kamps was given some herbal cough syrup by the manager of the Golden Guest Inn, and he was convinced that this helped him recover. Before leaving for home, he made sure to pick some up from a local pharmacy.
Shown above is a bottle water distribution facility. Trucks such as the ones shown in the image deliver bottled water to Rev. Titus.
Deacon Kamps stands with Rev. Titus and Cer Te in Yangon International Airport to say some last goodbyes before the delegation departed for home at 1 AM Tuesday morning.
We are truly thankful for the hard work and dedication that Elder Jessup and Deacon Kamps exhibited as members of Hope’s delegation to Myanmar. We pray that God blesses and uses their labors for His glory and for the furtherance of the Spirit’s work in spreading the gospel. It seems very evident that the Lord is opening doors in Myanmar and other areas in the East, and we are excited to see what future opportunities the Lord provides for us.