Central Seminary’s pilgrims to Myanmar (Burma) in December for the 200thAnniversary of the Judsons’ arrival included chaplains, pastors, business people, professors, a nurse practitioner, a former missionary, a student nearing completion of her study (while serving as a pastor), a former ABC regional minister, and seminary leaders, including a great photographer/videographer.
Central trustee Carol Ann Holcomb, member of First Baptist, Manhattan, Kansas, was enthusiastic about her experience: “It was a thrill to be a part of such a historical occasion. The enormous success of the Gospel through years of turmoil and war, the evidence of the consistency and constancy to the Church and its teaching were so inspiring.”
These pilgrims brought a life-long interest in the Judson history, a love of mission, an appreciation of Baptist heritage, and intellectual curiosity about the rapid changes occurring in Myanmar. They also brought good humor about challenging travel and a genuine delight in simply being together. This combination boded well for a blessed horizon of learning and spiritual renewal.
Presentations from Rev. Angie Barker Jackson were a special aspect of the journey. As a part of her Master of Divinity as a create scholar, she had studied the Judson history and enriched their time by offering information and reflection at historical sites.
Of course, the highlight of the trip was the days of celebration in Yangon. “It is hard to describe the scene,” said Vice President of Institutional Advancement John Gravley. “Over 30,000 people were trying to get into a facility that held less than half that number. When a session would end, some people would leave, but were soon replaced by those who had been outside waiting. People came from all over the country to be part of this celebration for these early missionaries. What a truly surprising reality when one considers the very modest initial reception to the gospel in Myanmar. But with God, amazing things are possible!”
On behalf of Central Seminary, President Marshall expressed heartfelt congratulations on the bicentenary as she brought greetings to the anniversary session on Friday of their trip. She spoke of the collaborative work in leadership development with Myanmar Institute of Theology and drew attention to Central’s educational ministry with resettled refugees, through the Judson Communities.
President Marshall was moved by the kinship with brothers and sisters who gathered, “Smiles are in abundance as people recognize their spiritual kin. There are encounters that transcend language, and we have been a part of many today. We sense deeply the truth that all are one in Christ Jesus.”
My joy is to see followers of Christ actively engaged in using their gifts, and blazing trails in effectively reaching the world with the transforming power of the gospel. As a servant leader of Christ’s church, I want to do for others what my leaders and mentors did for me: facilitate that transformational connection between life on the ground and scripture/theology.
I see the Christian faith as a journey, a way of life. Many people can affirm that “church” is the people, not the building, but were that to become a reality in how we actually function, the church would be transformed. I’m fond of using the designation “follower of Christ.” As I read the gospels, the essence of the call of Jesus is action: going, sending, doing.