International Ministries

Teaching and Learning in Myanmar

February 15, 2017 Journal
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As I write this, Gail and I have been here in Yangon for almost a month. We have had the great privilege of teaching some of Myanmar's present and future Christian leaders in a variety of classes--mostly at the Myanmar Institute of Theology, but also at the Pwo Kayin Theological Seminary. At MIT I've primarily taught theological students in classes ranging from New Testament Introduction, Theology of Second Isaiah, and Koine Greek, to Pastoral Care and Counseling and Leadership. Gail has taught English to liberal arts majors in school's undergraduate program, and also led Christian Education classes for seminarians. We are under no illusion that we bring knowledge otherwise unavailable to the students through their excellent faculty members. We do often bring a different perspective and always a willingness to engage in dialogue from which I believe we all gain new insights and grow in our potential for service. In addition to formal involvement in the classroom, we've had many opportunities for personal and social interaction with students, staff, and faculty members. We've both spoken in chapel services and have worshiped with several different congregations in Yangon and elsewhere. We were especially pleased to visit the offices of the Myanmar Baptist Convention to visit with General Secretary Rev. Dr. Yam Kho Pau. We have regularly brought greetings from American Baptist leaders and also from congregations in the Seattle area that have been established by people from Myanmar.

Since the time we were available to teach at the Myanmar Institute of Theology was limited to four weeks on this trip, neither Gail nor I had primary responsibility for courses of our own. Instead, we were invited to present material for specific sessions of existing courses within the Biblical and Practical (Ministry) departments for theological students and within the English department of the undergraduate program. My friend M. La Rip, for example, invited me to make presentations at three sessions of his elective class on the Theology of Second Isaiah, reflecting on readings that he had assigned to the class for those sessions. I found it very stimulating to read the articles, do some further research, and prepare responses. I also greatly enjoyed engaging with the students in discussion.

Some of the students in this class were in the first year of the Master of Divinity degree program. That meant that they also heard my presentations in the required courses on Introduction to the New Testament (a total of nine hours) and Pastoral Care and Counseling (six hours). Some of them had also taken other electives in which I'd made presentations, so we had quite a bit of exposure to one another even in four weeks.

M. La Rip was one of my first Hebrew students at MIT in 2000. He has now far surpassed me in Old Testament studies as he is almost finished with his Ph.D. in that field. It's really wonderful for me to see him as a respected faculty member here--as well as Dean of Students.

With our best wishes to you all,

International Ministries encourages volunteers to express things that they are experiencing, learning and thinking in mission. The reflections in volunteer blogs are shared with permission of the volunteer. The views and opinions presented throughout the blogs are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of International Ministries staff, Board of Directors or supporters.