A Leadership Wheel in Myanmar: A Personal-Theological Reflection

Aung Htoo                         Lamp Vol-2                       PDF

This essay is a personal-theological reflection on Christian leadership in Myanmar from my personal experiences in ministry. Leadership is, in this paper, pictured as a wheel that has three spokes, each of which has two poles. Each pole stands for a particular leadership characteristic. The two poles of the first spoke are given as obedience vs. creativity; second, faithfulness vs. truthfulness; and third, family vs. body structure. The problem with Christian leadership in Myanmar is that one pole in each spoke is tightly screwed at the cost of others, and this leads to polarization. The paper examines two fundamental reasons for these polarizations in the leadership wheel in Myanmar. The first is the polarizing way of thinking – either obedience or creativity, faithfulness or truthfulness, and family or body structure. This thinking has conditioned Christians to be stuck in choosing between obedience or creativity, faithfulness or truthfulness, and family or body structure. The second is cultural captivity. Christians came to be a part of the leadership culture in Myanmar by following the pattern of the society knowingly or unknowingly.

Keywords: Leadership, polarities and polarization, obedience, creativity, faithfulness or loyalty, truthfulness, family structure, nepotism, body administration, Myanmar


Mentoring in the MEGST Bible College, Myanmar

John Buchanan                Lamp Vol-2                  PDF

This paper reports on the design and implementation of and reflection on a mentoring course at the Myanmar Evangelical Graduate School of Theology (MEGST) in Yangon, Myanmar. An Alumni survey in 2016 identified the need for mentoring to be taught and practiced by MEGST. Because Christianity is an imitative faith and because we learn more from doing than simply listening, a practical mentoring course was developed whereby mentoring sessions were scheduled weekly. Faculty mentored Year 2 students and Year 3 students mentored Year 1 students. Research based on solicited student feedback and students’ reflective essays affirmed the value of mentoring to the individual students – both in terms of being mentored and doing the mentoring themselves. Among the themes identified from student feedback were experiential learning, genuine relationship and being heard. Although implementation of mentoring at MEGST has been challenging, students are learning important life skills as the MEGST college models mentoring and not just talks about it.

Keywords: Mentoring, discipleship, Bible College, Myanmar

From Pagodas to the Savior: Contextual Communication of the Gospel in the Burmese Buddhist Context in Yangon City

Peter Thein Nyunt                          Lamp Vol-2               PDF

Mission is at the very heart of the gospel and the life of the Church. The actions of missionary God are manifested and take place in a specific context in which people live. Communication, on the other hand, always happens contextually and of course, mission cannot be understood without it as an indispensable part of God’s mission. Hence, if the church is on the move and its mission is to be effective, contextual communication is essential. If God is within the reach of all people, the Omnipresent; when sincerely searching for him, they will definitely find him even in Shwedagon Pagoda.

The Gospel, Apologetics, and Worldview: A Correlation and Challenges in Myanmar

Aung Htoo                       Lamp Vol-2                PDF

This paper argues that the gospel is far more profound and richer than a mere guarantee of going to heaven when a person dies. Instead, the gospel is a story that reached a climax when Jesus Christ became human. Understanding the gospel in this biblical narrative unveils that the ultimate hope of the Christian faith is not heaven; rather, it is a new Jerusalem or new heaven and new earth where God will dwell among us. In Myanmar, presenting this gospel always triggers off a worldview clash because of radical differences between Buddhist and Christian worldviews. However, this paper points out that God does not leave humanity without a contextual link since human beings (regardless of religious differences) are divine image-bearers.

Keywords: The gospel, apologetics, worldview, Buddhism, dukkha, un-satisfactoriness, Christianity, Myanmar.

Our Πολιτευμα is in Heaven: Reading Philippians 3:20-21 in Light of the Greco-Roman Imperial Context and its Implication for Social Identity Formation

David Van Lian                                                Lamp Vol-2                 PDF

In this paper, I explore Paul’s use of πολίτευμα in light of Greco–Roman Imperial context and its implication for social identity formation in Phil 3:20–21. Based on my analysis of the semantic range of πολίτευμα and the way πολίτευμα used in the Greco-Roman and Jewish contexts, I argue that the term πολίτευμα is primarily associated with three components, namely geographical space, ruling class (governing body) and citizen body. In addition, I contend that πολίτευμα is related to social identity formation with respect to the three categories of cognitive, emotional, and evaluative dimensions in the context of Phil 3:17–21. Then, I conclude that by using the term πολίτευμα in relation to σωτήρ and κύριος in 3:20, Paul intends to encourage that the Philippian believers’ action must be practiced based on a Christological paradigm mentioned in 2:6–11, by considering Jesus as their Saviour and Lord, heavens as their new space, and the new identity as the people of God to live under Roman-Colony Philippi.

Keywords: Citizen, governing, social identity formation, imperial context

Early Burmese Translations of the Lord’s Prayer

John de Jong                                                  Lamp Vol-2                     PDF

The earliest extant translation of Scripture into Burmese is Saint Matthew’s version of the Lord’s Prayer, by Roman Catholic missionary Giovanni Maria Percoto (1776). The Gospel of Matthew was translated by British Baptist missionary James Chater (1812) and Adoniram Judson (1817), with Judson later greatly revising his translation (1832). Analysis of the four different Burmese versions of the Matthean Lord’s Prayer reveals how Percoto provided key terminology and phraseology for Chater and Judson. Chater’s translation reveals weaknesses typical of the William Carey/Serampore Bible translations. Judson’s 1817 translation contains weaknesses also seen in Chater’s work, but by 1832 these weaknesses had been addressed, resulting in a much-improved translation that is virtually the same as Judson’s final Bible translation (1840) that is widely used in Myanmar today. The research shows how the translation of the Bible into Burmese was a multigenerational process.

Keywords: Gospel of Matthew, Lord’s Prayer; Burmese, Bible translation, Adoniram Judson, James Chater, Giovanni Maria Percoto.

Moving Beyond Traditional Boundaries: Rethinking the Church in Burmese Buddhist Context

LAMP Vol-1      PDF

There is a range of definition of the church. But it is appropriate to mention that church is “the distinctive people of God called by the Missionary God through His mission and set aside for the continuation of His mission. As His mission always takes place to the specific people at the specific time, His church should be contextually formed. As the church is designed by the Missionary God who is Infinite God, it should be without walls. In other words, the church should be beyond the traditional boundary but contextual.

Alcohol Abuse Among Christian Students at Kalay University

LAMP Vol-1      PDF

This research investigates alcohol use and abuse among Christian students at Kalay University in terms of causes, effects and solutions. When Christian students come to Kalay University, some start drinking alcohol, often to excess, and with significant negative consequences. A mixed method research approach was used, involving both quantitative questionnaires and qualitative in-depth interviews. While the effects of alcohol abuse are well known, the research identified an important theme entitled “freedom” as one of the main causes; that is, Kalay University has few rules and students have considerable freedom regarding how they behave. Regarding solutions, a key result is the proper preparation for young people leaving home and moving to a new and often “free” environment. It is suggested that this preparation requires intentional discipleship from both parents and the church.

Keywords: Alcohol abuse, Christian university students, Myanmar.

Practicing Christian Faith in the Workplace of Myanmar (PCFW): What and Why?

LAMP Vol-1     PDF

This essay explores what it means by “practicing Christian faith in the Workplace” (PCFW) and why it is important in the context of Myanmar. Tracing Christian views of work from Martin Luther to Timothy Keller and Miroslav Volf, this paper argues that PCFW is theologically rich, and it embraces all theological traditions (Anabaptist, liberation, development model, the reformed approach) which seek a way to relate society. Then this paper proposes that Christians in Myanmar should seek to introduce, promote and develop PCFW in Myanmar in order to be culture-making Christians. Last, this paper also presents challenges and opportunities that Christians may face in practicing Christian faith in the workplace.

Keywords:  work, workplace, lay Christians, Christian faith, Buddhism, PCFW, Anabaptist, Reformation, corruption, culture-making, transformation.

Wise Choices

LAMP Vol-1      PDF

Living constantly involves making choices. The Christian perspective recognizes that God guides through the Holy Spirit and through His Word, which gives guidance for all moral choices. However, many choices are non-moral – such as, what clothes shall I wear today, shall I eat rice or noodles for lunch, or which would be the best Bible College for me to study at. While Christian literature deals extensively with moral choices (ethics), comparatively little guidance is given for the many non-moral decisions Christians make every day. This article focuses on the many important and largely non-moral choices faced by Christians and presents key findings from over forty years of research on decision making. Three main areas addressed are: perception of decision situation, processes and finally practical principles for making wise choices.

Keywords: Decision making, choice, God’s will.