International Ministries

In the Footprints of Judson and Rice

October 6, 2009 Journal
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Yangon, Burma

I'm in Burma again--I've lost count of how many times I've been here.  But one thing you always know as a Baptist missionary in this country is that you are following in historic footprints.  This is where Adoniram and Anne Judson came almost 200 years ago.  There are pictures of the Judsons in schools and mission centers.  There is the Judson Memorial Baptist Church.  All the Baptists in Burma refer with gratitude to the Judsons and the rich mission history of American Baptists working here.

I've come especially to do peace training among the church leaders.  I spent a full week teaching at the Pwo Karen Theological Seminary as well as teaching Pwo Karen pastors who had gathered for a special assembly.  I spent another week going up to Lashio in the Shan State with the staff of the Peace Studies Center at the Myanmar Institute of Theology (MIT).  I was the resource person for an intensive 3-day training program they were running for church leaders from across the northern Shan State.  We had people from many different ethnic groups:  Shans, Kachins, Was, Chinese, Lahu, Lisus and Burmans.  Besides the Baptists we also had Catholics and Anglicans.  I led shorter programs back in Insein at the MIT and the Karen Baptist Theological Seminary.

Teaching peacemaking is not alien to someone walking in the footsteps of Judson.  Adoniram Judson was a mediator who helped end a war between the British and the Burmese.  He saw his witness for Christ fleshed out in finding a way to peace for warring groups. 

Burma (formally called Myanmar) is currently suffering under many insurgencies as well as a conflict between the military government and a periodically resurgent democracy movement.  The church leaders in Burma are seeking ways to be faithful to Christ in this conflicted context.  I've worked for many years with indigenous peacemakers, and we've seen some of that peacemaking effort institutionalized in the Shalom Foundation and in the Peace Studies Center at MIT.  I've provided resources for these centers in my books and the "Bible Study Manual on Conflict Transformation," which was first published in Burmese.  I've also been one of their leading trainers.  It's been exciting for me to equip young Baptist leaders with peacemaking skills, then see them step out in leadership.

Besides the footsteps of Judson there are the footsteps of Luther Rice.  Rice was a friends and companion of the Judsons, but he went back to the U.S. to build up the mission support to keep the Judsons in Burma doing their ground-breaking work.  Rice helped establish the missionary society from which International Ministries is directly descended.  He recruited people to support the growing number of missionaries responding to God's call to go to the uttermost parts of the earth.

Many of you have been walking in the footsteps of Luther Rice.  I couldn't go to Burma (or anywhere else in my peacemaking mission) without the financial and prayer support of dedicated sisters and brothers.  This past spring many individuals and churches gave new contributions to support my missionary work, matched by the Luther Rice Society.  As a result, for the first time in six years I've been able to achieve the full support goals set by International Ministries.  We're in a new fiscal year, and I need to keep raising that support.  This year I'll have to make up the $14,000 of matching funds from the Luther Rice Society as well as sustain the level of giving from last year.  So we need more people following in the footsteps of Luther Rice, people committed to support missionaries in their global witness for Christ.

October is the heart of the World Mission Offering campaign.  I encourage you to give generously to support me and my missionary colleagues as we seek to serve you and serve our Lord.  You can give at the IM website (, going to the "Giving" page.  I'm on the pull-down menu under "Global Consultants."

Thank you for joining with me in walking in the footsteps of Judson and Rice!

In the peace of Jesus,