Dr. Kelvin Moore's Mission Trip
August 19, 2018
Myanmar (formerly Burma) is located in Southeast Asia. Home to over 50,000,000 people, the largest majority of Burmese are Buddist (approximately 88%). Christians make up approximately 6% of the nation's population. Myanmar, predating the 9th century in history, is one of the most under-developed countries in the world. An estimated 26% of Burmese live below the poverty line. Civil strife has been a part of Burmese history for decades. The suppression of a military uprising in 1989 led to a name change, in that Burma became Myanmar. Dr. Moore will be assisting in a Bible Conference for an estimated 40 Burmese pastors in November (6-10; Dr. Moore leaves for Singapore September 5. He will teach an eight-week class in Singapore at the Baptist Theological Seminary, Singapore, and from Singapore fly to Myanmar). The conference will be held at the Bible Fellowship Center in Hmawbi Township, Tadgyigon Village, Yangon Division, Myanmar. First Baptist Church, Bradford's contributions will be used to support the Bible conference and complete the Bible Fellowship Center. The Center is the vision of Union University graduate Pastor Dr. Peter Cho Ma Na Ling. Dr. Ma Na Ling, Burmese himself, donated the land for the two-story conference center and has raised the money to build it. Currently, the building needs floor coverings, a sound system, media and other smaller items (tables, chairs, etc.). All of FBC's contributions will be used in support of the November conference and the completion of the Conference building. None of FBC's contributions will be used to pay any of Dr. Moore's expenses.
August 28, 2018
Dear Bradford Baptist Church
Thank you for your very fine donation of $1200, which we will receive from Dr. Kelvin Moore when he comes to Singapore. Your generosity will make an immediate difference in the lives of the pastors at the seminar for the extension of the Kingdom of God in Myanmar. We will update to you always of the works of the Lord in our country through us. Request you all to continue to pray for us and visit to us as well. May the Lord bless and keep you all as the church of God in your land.
Cho Ma Na Ling
September 9, 2018
FBC, Bradford Family:
I departed Nashville on Wednesday at 7 PM and arrived in Singapore on Friday, around noon. I haven't done all the math but that equates to about 30 hours in airplanes and airports. I know I am not getting older, so I can only explain it one way: it is simply further to Singapore than it once was. Friend Dr. Choon Sam Fong, Baptist Theological Seminary's Academic Dean, met me at the airport. After lunch, Choom Sam took me to my room (not exactly a hotel room but not an apartment either), where I will be staying for the next two months. Choon Sam has made this trip before and understands the true meaning of jet lag. I slept for an hour or so and went out for a walk. Cathy and I stayed in this same complex when we were here last summer, so I feel comfortable navigating my way here (this is my fourth trip to Singapore. I feel comfortable navigating anywhere here. Of course, it does help to remind myself that, as long as I don't get off the island, the futhermost point I can be from where I want/need to be is only 25 miles). I returned to the room a couple of hours later. I was determined to stay awake until 9 PM, hoping I could sleep well. I went to sleep around 9:00. I woke at 3 AM. Now, Monday morning, I am still waking at 3 AM.
Singapore/Myanmar Pastor Dr. Peter Cho Ma Na Ling, met me in my room Saturday morning at 9. I gave him our church's generous contribution of $1200. He accepted it with graciousness and appreciation. The last report I gave you was his Bible Conference Center needed floor coverings. Those are now in place. Peter said he would use this money to support the Bible Conference in November (basically, room and board for the estimated 40 Burmese pastors who will attend). I ate breakfast with Peter, Choon Sam and wife Christina.
I worshipped Sunday morning with the Eternal Life Baptist Church (there are 32 Baptist Churches in the Singapore Baptist Convention-32 church for a population of over 5 million people of the island). Cathy and I discovered this church last summer, only a mile or so from where we stayed. Their pastor, Richard Loh, remembered us from last summer and asked if my wife was with me again. How impressive is that? I can't remember my name at times.
Lunch today with Tan Thiamhong, a Union University Doctor of Ministry graduate.
I will go to the seminary tomorrow, where I will teach one class while I am here and finish research on a New Testament book I am writing.
I trust all is well with everyone.
September 20, 2018
I am fine in Singapore. I have been busy since I got here. In addition to class, I met with a student yesterday and will meet again this afternoon with another student (Singapore is 13 hours ahead of you) and again tomorrow with yet another student (some of these are in our Doctor of Ministry program). See a picture of my class. Ten students, from Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar, Korea and the Philippines. I have met with them twice. They were quiet the first week. Not so this week! Maybe they felt more comfortable with me but they came with lots of questions. Lively, civil, respectful discussion.
Thanks for all your support,
October 14, 2018
Sunday Afternoon - 4:00 P.M. - Singapore Time
I preached today at Peter Cho Ma Na Ling's church in Singapore. Just a word of clarification might help. Peter is Burmese (from Myanmar) who has been working with this new church start in Singapore for nine years. He told me he hopes to have the church in a position to call another pastor in two years. At that point, he plans on returning to Myanmar and staying in Myanmar. Peter also said, while smiling: "God might have other plans for me." Our church gave money to help build the Bible Conference Center in Myanmar, where I will be November 6 - 10. Peter has a vision for making this Bible Conference Center the "hub" and creating 14 more sites that will "spider-web" from this central location, teaching pastors and laity alike. He also has a vision for a "hotel," three-story, on-site, where pastors and laypeople can come to the Bible Conference Center without cost (most of these pastors are poor, very poor by US standards.)
The worship service today was basically a Baptist service in Burmese (where I will preach next Sunday, at the Pwo Kayin Christian Fellowship, will be much different. This, too, is a Burmese congregation but a different tribe (Pwo Kayin) than Peter's tribe. Cathy and I have worshipped at Paw Kayin before. Their pastor is a Union student). We started today with music at 10:50. The worship service consisted of songs, testimonials, Bible study led by Peter, a sermon (Peter is a very animated interpreter!) and the Lord's Supper, which they do weekly. I think the service concluded about 1:15 although I must admit, I really didn't check the time. After worship, the church provided a box lunch for everyone there. The church people bring, cook, package and distribute the boxes. Most of the people in the wordhip service are migrant workers from Myanmar, earning, Peter said about $500 (US dollars) a month (about $600 Singapore dollars). In regards to the box lunch: not for Pastor Peter and me. The church set up a table at the front and served lunch to Peter and me. After lunch, Peter took me for tea, as I expected. He loved his tea! Peter then rushed off, saying he had another church responsibility this afternoon till 4:30 and yet another church responsibility 6:00 - 8:00. He said he normally gets home and in bed on Sunday nights around midnight. Peter knew many of the crowd in the Peninsula Plaza building where the church meets (the church meets in what would be a store had the church not rented it, for $5500 Singapore dollars a month). The crowd was huge in the super store, but, everywhere we went, Peter spoke to people by name and invited them to church, often accommodated with a gospel track. It was obvious the church loves Peter Cho Ma Na Ling. Cathy and I have come to love him and Susan, too. Peter (and Susan!) is an absolute joy to be around.
Cathy and Megan came and left without traveling incident. I am grateful for that and I was glad to see them. We had a busy week while they were here, some nights well after midnight. Everybody here wanted to see Cathy (me? Not so much so! [smile]). We actually ate few meals, just the three of us. Everybody wanted to take us out. So, we went out! Thanks to all the generous people of FBC Bradford, for your prayers for all here and your financial support of Peter's vision. Peter, and by extension, FBC, is making a difference for the Kingdom of God. FBC should be proud to be a part.
October 16, 2018
Hope all is well. I am fine here. Yesterday (Tuesday) was a memorable day. Class was lively, as always (2:00-5:30). The class then invited me to dinner. Academic Dean Choon Sam Fong and Professors Swee Key and Annie were also invited. A joyous time indeed. Dinner was called "hot pot." Two large pots of broth and diners add veggies, noodles and other things (I didn't know. I didn't ask. I only ate.) at the table. Swee Key told me one pot was spicy but the other one wasn't. I ate from the "non-spicy" pot and it was hot with spice! I like spicy foods, but I had to stay away from the "spicy" pot.
After dinner, I went with Choon Sam, where he leads an English language class for Bangladeshi works (construction mainly). Choon Sam pointed out an old office building which the Singapore government converted to a living quarters for these men. Four thousand Bangladeshi workers, in this one building alone! Being a converted office building means no cooking facilities. These men leave families and come to Singapore in order to provide a better life for themselves and families. At home, they make $200-$300 Singapore dollars a month, when they can find employment. Here, they make over $2000, and many of them work second jobs.
The bad news: agents in Bangladesh exploit these men. They charge excessive fees, sponsoring them to get them here. Choon Sam said it will take 2-3 years for these men to repay the fees. Once here, the agents keep their passports until the fees are paid, so the men can't leave Singapore. Modern-day slavery. Most of these men have been here for years, only seeing families through Face Time, etc. Should these men not pay the fees, agents in Bangladesh attempt to collect them from their families. Choon Sam told me to notice how happy they seem. It was true! Regardless of circumstances, life in Singapore, work-wise anyway, was better than life in Bangladesh and, they were working for their families after all.
Choon Sam told me: "They have never seen or talked to an American before. They will want to talk to you." True! They came to me and we talked, some in very broken English. I am sure they thought: "Is this what America is all about?" They are Muslim, but because they are away from home, they are more open to the gospel. The organization that sponsors the language lessons (they also provide counseling and other services) is not overtly Christian (even their name conceals that) but all of the volunteers are Christians and Choon Sam said, the men from Bangladesh all know the volunteers are Christians. One of the workers got me involved, as well as, I assisted a young Bangladeshi in a lesson on verb-subject agreement. It wasn't Hebrew but I did the best I could. Ministry, here, is not something one simply reads about. Choon Sam and I returned to our respective places of abode about 10:30. Choon Sam said he would be in the office Wednesday morning before 7:30. He has been doing this for two years. He is a hard-working man, looking for every opportunity to promote the Kingdom of God. He is inspirational to me.
See all soon!
October 22, 2018
Dr. Choon Sam Fong, Baptist Theological Seminary's Academic Dean wanted me to see the Southeast side of Singapore, along the sea. I met him Saturday morning at 7:00 at the nearest Mass Rapid Transit (MRT). We took an hour bus ride (typical in Singapore, even though it's only a few miles) to start the day. After a Malay breakfast of rice and anchovies, we began walking. I estimate we walked 4-6 kilometers. Choon Sam suggested we rent bikes and cycle for the remained. "Probably 6-8 kilometers," Choon Sam said. I did the math on that: 8 kilometers is about 4.8 miles. "I can do that," I said to myself, even though I hadn't been on a bicycle for almost twenty years. It's true! Just like riding a bike. I remembered how. We stopped once to rest and another time for rest and water. We kept going and going and going. I know it was nothing but imagination but it seemed like the entire trip was uphill. It wasn't my imagination: it was hot! When we arrived, Choon Sam said, "I have ridden this before and didn't remember it being this long." He checked his phone: 18 kilometers! About 12 miles, after having already walked 4-6 kilometers (about 3 and 1/2 miles). I rested well Saturday night!
I preached Sunday at the Pwo Karen Christian Fellowship. This church is twenty years old. Their pastor, Min Min Soe, is a Union student in the doctoral program. You can see photos of the church. Min Min has served the church for three years in serveral capacities, now as their pastor. This is another Burmese congregation but from a different tribe than Peter Cho Ma Na Ling's (Chin) tribe. As the name indicates, Min Min and church members are from the Pwo Karen tribe in Myanmar (Burma). Their worship was very different from Peter's church. The music was lively and joyous. Bible study began at 10:30. Worship concluded after 1:00. Many people there wanted to have their picture made with the great preacher from America (I can't write that without laughing aloud)! I hugged and took pictures with many of them. I think they all came to me after worship and spoke, in very broken English. I ate lunch with Pastor Min Min, wife Ju Ju, son Min Thak and daughter Min Julia after worship. A glorious day among the people of the Lord in the Lord's house. Worship in Singapore has to be a foretaste of heaven. People from all over the world worshiping Jesus together. We (the Pwo Karen church and I) had little in common except Jesus but, we needed nothing more. The singing of "What A Friend We Have In Jesus" in Burmese brought a smile to my face and tears to my eyes.
I have this week and next in Singapore before leaving for Myanmar.
Thanks for your support and prayers.
October 30, 2018
Tuesday was my last day at Baptist Theological Seminary, Singapore. I gave a final examination in the afternoon.
Tuesday morning was a particularly meaningful worship service during their weekly chapel and prayer time (every Tuesday, 9:00-10:45). This was the last chapel of the semester and the service was all about their four graduating seniors (the seminary has both English speaking and Chinese speaking students. These four students were from the English speaking side). These students, Ros, Y.K., Deborah and Benjamin were in my class. The graduating seniors shared their future plans and informed the group how we could pray for them. We prayed for their ministries, their families and their continued education. These four will minister and continue their education in Singapore, North Korea and Myanmar. Seminary professors led in pray for each student.
One of the seminary professors, a much-loved lady named Annie, spoke at chapel. I met Annie for the first time I came to Singapore when she and Dr. Choon Sam Fong showed me around the island. We went in and out of food courts and Annie asked me: "Dr. Moore, have you tried (this food)?" When I answered "no," she said, "You must try!" She bought it and we ate it. To this day, I am unsure what some it was. After four or five times I realized what was happening with Annie and when she asked, "Dr. Moore, have you tried?" I had to reply, "Yes, I have tried!" I simply couldn't eat anything else.
At chapel, Dr. Fong asked me to speak on my experience in Singapore. I did so, happily. In many ways, Singapore has been one of the highlights of my teaching career. In regards to the friendships I have made in the seminary, both doctoral and master's level students, and in the Singapore Baptist Convention (the Executive Director is a Union Graduate. I chaired his Doctor of Ministry committee), I echo what the Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi:
"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayeres for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now."
The seminary gave me a gracious parting gift. I received it proudly.
And: Annie came to me last week and asked me to sing at the worship service! I have been in ministry for forty-three years. In those years, I have been asked to do lots of things in ministry but never sing! And for good reason: I can't sing! But the song, "Day by Day," was Annie's favorite and she asked me to sing it. She and everyone here is so giving of their time, energy and resources, I simply could not tell her no. I did ask her: "Are you sure about that??" So, I sang, or I made a "joyful noise unto the Lord."
I ate lunch with four of my students. Then, after the final exam, the entire class took me to dinner. We enjoyed the time together. They prayed for me as we departed. After being here, perhaps I have a little better understanding of what heaven will be like.
I leave Sunday afternoon for the week in Myanmar. A colleague from Union, Dr. Hal Poe, will meet me in Singapore and we will fly the few hours to Yangon, Myanmar. A few-hour bus ride north will get us to our Bible Conference site.
Over lunch today, one student asked, "So, Dr. Mo, you are traveling to Myanmar?" When I confirmed that he said: "Very hot in Myanmar, Dr. Mo. Much hotter than Singapore. No air con on buses." I wonder if you are going to have air con in the hotel!
I doubt that we have internet options when we get to the Bible Conference location, so this may be my final report until I return home. Thanks for all of you for your prayers and support. This part of the world will give one a greater understanding and appreciation for the words of Jesus:
"The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; Pray you therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest."
See all soon,
From Yangon, Myanmar - November 7, 2018
First Baptist Church Family:
Colleague Hal Poe and I rendezvoused in Singapore Sunday afternoon. We flew the three-hour flight to Myanmar, arriving at 5:00 P.M. Pastor Peter Cho Ma Na Ling and a friend, Aung Kyawsoe, met us at the airport. They drove us to the hotel and allowed us to unpack and rest (Dr. Poe had slept 6 hours in the past 40, at that point). We went out to dinner at 7:00. At dinner, at a very crowded restaurant, a young boy and three men approached our table. One of the men communicated with Peter in Burmese. I understood Peter when he said, "Sure." Peter then explained to us the boy wanted to meet two Americans (yes, we were that obvious). Dr. Poe and I were glad to talk to him and his father, uncle and cousin. The young man, I estimated him to be twelve years old, was named Patrick. While the three adults spoke little to no English, Patrick spoke excellent English. We made a picture with the three of us. Peter explained to the group that we were Christians and there for a Bible Conference. I assumed they were Buddhists. One never knows how the gospel seed that was planted in their lives might grow.
Peter and yet another driver, Khun Aung, a man Peter led to Christ out of Buddhism three years ago, met us at the hotel at 8:00 on Monday morning. We visited a State Park of over one hundred acres. The park was divided into twelve sections, representing the twelve major tribes of Myanmar. Each section had a home constructed like the tribal people would have built. We saw a little of the entire nation of Myanmar in a few hours.
We also visited the Shwedagon Pagoda, which dates between the 6-10 century A.D., is 326 feet tall and the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar. It is also covered with gold leaf, as well as, scores of smaller pagodas that surround it. I will encourage those of you who are tech-savvy to look it up on the internet. It is breath-taking. Pastor Peter called it one of the wonders of the world.
We went to Peter's Conference Center in the afternoon, about thirty-five north of Yangon. Peter has done an amazing work here. I will share with you how Peter used the generous funds our church provided.
Peter kept us busy all day, realizing Monday would be the only day he could show us his beloved city of seven million people. We made the most of the opportunity, getting back to the room after 7:00.
The Conference started at 8:00 on Tuesday morning and goes through lunch on Saturday. My first session, of seven, was Tuesday at 10:00. I had two sessions on Wednesday, 9:00 and 10:00. I believe the sessions have all gone well. I have certainly appreciated the time. The participants have all been complementary and encouraging.
I look forward to telling you more when I see you.
In appreciation for your prayers and support,
Saturday, November 10, Yangon, Myanmar, 9:50 P.M., local time
First Baptist Church Family:
Our Bible conference, the "Pastor's Leadership Seminar," concluded today. I led seven sessions on "Understanding the Old Testament." I gave my book The Old Testament for the 21st Century: A Concise Guide to each participant as a gift. While they struggle with communicating in English (some speak little to no English), Peter informed me that they can read English. So I donated 40 books. I sent the copies weeks ago to insure their arrival before the conference. When the books arrived in Yangon, shipped in two boxes, one box had been opened and four copies removed (stolen). I told Peter my prayer is that God might bless both the stolen copies and the thief (thieves?)! My friend and colleague from Union, Dr. Hal Poe, also led seven sessions.
Peter gave gifts of longyi (the traditional Burmese attire of women and, some, men) and bags. I suspect both are handmade. Lots and lots of pictures were made. I think every participant wanted his/her picture made with the lecturers. We all gladly posed for them. We ate lunch, our final meal together as a group, before the group dispersed for places all over Myanmar. Peter and wife Susan invited Dr. Poe and me out for dinner tonight. The man who chauffeured Hal and me all week also chauffeured one automobile tonight and ate with us. A friend of Peter and Susan's drove another car and ate with us as well.
It was a demanding week. We ate breakfast every morning at the hotel's restaurant. We arrived at the Conference Center before sessions started, some mornings at 8:00, other mornings at 9:00. Peter was kind enough to schedule all of my sessions and most of Dr. Poe's sessions in the mornings. Peter said this would give us the opportunity to rest in the afternoons. As the conference progressed, I became more and more grateful for Peter's kind consideration in scheduling and desire to make sure we were adequately rested.
Of the seven sessions, I led four of them over two days, back-to-back. On Wednesday and Friday, I led sessions at 9:00 and 10:00. That may not sound too demanding but working through an interpreter has always been demanding for me. One must be aware of the environment (that is, the necessity of an interpreter) and speak in short sentences and simply English (I have no problems using short sentences and small words. That's all I know!). then, one has to pause for the interpreter. There were times when I (and others) forgot where I was and got too far ahead of the interpreter. The interpreters, three of them, and the participants, were very patient and polite. And, there are words in English that do not translate easily into Burmese. In those cases, the interpreters themselves struggled to communicate. Oftentimes, the interpreters communicated among themselves and with conference attendees as how best to communicate a certain word or concept.
It was also a very rewarding week. All of the participants, men and women alike, expressed their appreciation. This came in different ways. Some spoke broken English. Others spoke no English and communicated their gratitude with a simple handshake, an honorable bow, a smile or a wave.
Some of the pastors rode a bus for over twenty-four hours and over a thousand miles to get to the conference. Some pastors in the far reaches of Myanmar couldn't afford to attend (hence, Peter's desire to provide a place to them to stay, free). They pooled their money and sent a representative. The representative will go back to the pastors and relate the week's teachings. We will never know how the impact, across Myanmar, will be felt. Peter has plans for two of these conferences annually, in the Spring (probably March) and in the Fall (probably October). One pastor shook my hand and spoke as he left: "I will see you again next year." I haven't thought about that! But he did.
American Missionary Adoniram Judson ministered for almost forty years in Myanmar (Burma). At the age of 25, he became the first Protestant missionary sent from North America to preach here. Dying in 1850, his influence is still seen across Myanmar in numerous churches he established. He also began a college that is now Yangon University, offering undergraduate, master's and doctoral degrees to over 5000 students. The work of Adoniram Judson continues to be influential, over 150 years later.
We shall never know how the Lord will bless the "seeds" we have planted. As Paul communicated (1 Cor. 3): we planted the seeds. We know others, such as Pastor Peter Cho Ma Na Ling, Pastor Myo Thein Win and Pastor Kelvin Moe (that is correct!) will "water." We also know the Lord will give the increase, even if we don't know how or when. My prayer is that the Lord might bless our efforts, as Adoniram Judson's efforts, for years and years to come. I believe the Lord will do just that. The work began by Dr. Peter Cho Ma Na Ling should continue to be influential in Myanmar for a long time.
We leave Yangon tomorrow at 5:40 P.M. for the long trek home (thirty-seven and one-half hours flight and in airports time, from Yangon to Nashville. And, of course, over two hours drive time from Nashville home. Cathy and Mary Ann Poe will meet us at the airport). We fly back to Singapore initially. Then, to San Francisco and finally, Nashville.
I am grateful for the opportunity to be in Myanmar (and Singapore). I never imagined I would have such an opportunity. I now have contacts in Myanmar, Singapore, India, Indonesia and the Philippines (as well as a friend who wants me to travel with him and teach in China, Vietnam and South Korea), who requests: "Please come to our country and teach the Old Testament. We need people to help us understand the Old Testament" (I told this to Singaporean friend Dr. Choon Sam Fong and asked him if he knew any good Old Testament teachers. His response, with a broad grin: "I don't know any good Old Testament teachers").
Thanks to all for your prayers, support and love for me while I have been gone. I have sensed your prayers while I have been away. While I have traveled abroad extensively, I have never been away for more than a few weeks at a time. Being away for nine weeks is much more demanding.
I also want to express my appreciation to you for praying and caring for Cathy in my absence. Many of you expressed your intention to pray for her while I have been gone. I have sensed that as well and will always be appreciative. I will see all soon.
To God be the Glory!