CBTS and MIT students began our second day of classes with Dr. Marshall this morning. The class shared in some very edifying discussion based on students' questions that stem from our reading. One of the things I have thoroughly enjoyed about this D.Min program is its concern for the practical; applying sound theological thought to the realities of ministry. Our discussion this morning was no different. My colleagues from Myanmar brought up fascinating questions such as how to discuss the cross with children and how to preach about the Holy Spirit in animistic cultures that believe in many spirits.
In the afternoon, in lieu of having a lecture/discussion in our pastoral care class, we drove 1.5 hours across the Irrawaddy River to visit the ThaBarWa Center, a place of refuge for orphans, elderly, homeless, and the sick. It was founded and is run by a Buddhist monk named Sayadaw U. Ottamasara (who was not present during our visit). It is a 70-acre area that houses more than 2200 families. Children receive an education here and we saw at least 4 large groups of children going through their daily lesson. There was a striking contrast between the glowing children who waved at us and the adults lying in huts who look very sick and despondent. In the large group dwellings, Buddhist sermons were playing over a loudspeaker for the people to listen to. Although this place was significantly different from the place we visited Saturday (especially in terms of cleanliness), I couldn't help but remember the many biblical injunctions to care for the orphan and widow and those who are generally helpless. The people who have come here were truly in need and had nowhere to go. Our Myanmar colleagues have expressed frustration that Christians in Myanmar, being a small minority, are unable to raise funds for such projects and centers. It has cultivated my own appreciation for the many resources the churches in America still have and take for granted.
Thank you for your interest in our experiences! Please remember in prayer today the people at the ThaBarWa Center.
Rev. Corey S. Fields
CBTS D.Min student
Associate Pastor, First Baptist Church of Topeka