Lent is not only about contemplation; it is also about doing the good purposed for us by God. We were “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life” (Ephesians 2:10b). Clearly, God means for us to be the hands of feet of Christ daily, making him present in all the corners of the earth.
Protestant Christians have often accented the Reformation insight that we are “justified by faith” and ignored the concomitant teaching that good works will flow from being put right with God. We are simultaneously justified yet sinful, iustus et peccator, as Luther wrote, but this does not prevent participating with God in righteous pursuits.
Tomorrow morning I depart for Myanmar once again. The create students have been in Thailand—well-documented by their pictures and blogs—and I will join them in Yangon on Wednesday, along with other faculty and Doctor of Ministry students. We have been making this pilgrimage for a little over six years, generously supported by the Luce Foundation.
Central’s partnership with Myanmar Institute of Theology is bearing good fruit. Not only is there significant leadership development going on there, but friendships and sister church relationships are forming between the cohorts of doctoral students. Learning from one another, these leaders are finding ways to collaborate in doing good.
While Christians in America are figuring out how to live in a postchristendom context, Christians in Myanmar have always lived as a minority in a primarily Buddhist land. They understand that their service to their communities is a compelling witness for the Gospel.
One of the significant ministries of the Ywama Baptist Church (in addition to the medical clinic) is the program for children from the slums. “Sharing Love” is one of the most effective outreach programs of the church, according to Pastor Maung Maung Yin. Children from the poorest neighborhoods come to the church on Saturdays and Sundays, and young adults offer instruction in social skills, share the Good News with them, feed them, provide health care, and instill self-confidence so that they might pursue life goals other than hawking trinkets on the streets. Remarkably, the church pays the children for the time they spend at church, so that they are not punished by their families for lost wages as the children take a break from their work. This church knows how to embody the Gospel!
Molly T. Marshall
Central prepares women and men for seeking God, shaping church, and serving humanity.