This is the blog post for Sunday in Myanmar. We were graciously invited to join in worship with Ywama Baptist Church. We arrived a couple of minutes after service began, because our bus driver was running a little bit behind schedule. Once our bus arrived we were warmly greeted by individuals at the church.
Some of you may not know what the church facilities are like here, so I will try to give an overview. I believe after reading this many of you will appreciate the buildings we are privileged to worship at in the states. The church is on a compound, meaning that the minister housing are on the same property. The outside of the church building is nice, but inside may be a shocker for many. No air conditioning, some open walls for ventilation, and bugs in the church! This did not hinder the Spirit from moving within the worship service. People were not concerned about torn carpet, blemished walls, or sitting on unpadded seats. They were there to hear God’s Word, sing, and fellowship with one another.
It did not stop the church from doing ministry, either. Right after church we were able to see a free clinic that the church offers to people in the area. Health clinics are very expensive, and many people cannot afford them. It is because of the vision of several individuals within the church that they started offering this outreach program. They serve around 10,000 people each year. They offer free services to people, and the church pays on average around $1.00 per individual they see. The amazing part about this outreach is that only 4.8 percent are Christian.
The church graciously offered us lunch following the worship service. We interacted with several members of the church. It was not too long after lunch that we left and headed back to the hotel. The Doctor of Ministry students all stood together with Drs. Marshall, Entrekin, and Rosell to say a final goodbye to the Create Cohort as they headed to the airport to journey home. They will be greatly missed for the remainder of the trip. They were a joy to be around.
Last night Dr. Marshall asked during our evening meal how we saw God today and how we grieved with God today. This led to a lot of in-depth thought and discussion about our daily events. Today the thought still pondered with me as I was in worship. I saw God everywhere from the expressions on people’s faces to the missional work being done within the church to reach out to those who are less fortunate. It made me think about my own ministry context along with many others back in states. Maybe Christians within the United States should grieve with God, because we have neglected at times to see Him. We put way too much concentration on the right thermostat temperature, color of carpet/walls, padding in the pews, and how the church can serve a “me” type of personality. What if we put away those concerns and shifted our minds back to being more concerned about the least of these, and having the right mindset during worship? I saw God in the Ywama Church regardless of the material possessions they possessed. I grieved with God because many of our churches back in the states have lost what being the Body of Christ is all about. I believe when we start to examine what God would have for our faith communities, we will begin to regain the mission that he has for us. So now I will ask you the same question Dr. Marshall asked us last night. This question will be one that I will put into daily practice not only in the ministry context, but also within everyday life situations:
How have you seen God today, and how did you grieve with God today?
Rev. Nathan Marsh
Central DMin Student
**Pictured is the Ywarma health clinic offered directly after the church worship service.
The Nashville cohort just completed our first class with Dr. Molly T. Marshall at Conception Abbey and I am still processing all that transpired in my heart during that time. Being at the Abbey allowed us to share our stories and get to know one another in a way that enabled community to happen. The rhythm of prayer and quietude inspired the kind of contemplation introduced to us in the books we read in preparation for the class. Dr. Marshall’s focused discussion about creativity and spirituality enabled us to consider the road ahead and how we will practice spirituality as a community and as individual ministers in the work we do. I am honored and thrilled to be a part of the CBTS community. It is just the beginning and I am excited about what lies ahead!