“Even though we’re teaching English, we are training people for mission.”
In May LeaDev-Langham’s ESOL volunteers returned to New Zealand from their 13th Summer English School (SES) in Yangon, Myanmar.
Working within MEGST (Myanmar Evangelical Graduate School of Theology), the ESOL team is headed up by co-ordinator Bronwyn Schick. Her passion for mission casts a vision for the project far beyond simply teaching Burmese speakers correct use of English grammar.
“Even though we’re teaching English, we’re training people for mission,” shares Bronwyn.
This is one way the ministries of LeaDev-Langham bridge the resource gap for young emerging leaders in the Church in Myanmar. When young leaders can speak, read and write English, this opens up the way for them to learn so much more about what it means to lead others in the fast-growing church. Simply put, many more resources become available to them.
Bronwyn frames the contribution of the project this way:
“I can’t go into the jungles of the Shan State to reach an unreached people group and to start translating the Bible into its own language. But a young man called Stephen can go and he has – Summer English School played a big part in that and I was one of his teachers.
“I can’t go and live in a very poor animist/Buddhist part of Yangon and spend my days talking to people about the Lord, to people who struggle with living, who live in the most appalling conditions. But a young man called Tana can and I taught him at SES.
“I can’t establish a music school in Myitkyina where young people come to learn to play a variety of instruments, learn to be worship leaders, and learn to teach music. These young people come from Nagaland, from the Shan State as well as in the Kachin State. I can’t do any of that. But a young man called Phong Shane is doing that … someone I taught many years ago.”
This is leveraged mission at its best: equipping the leaders to share the Gospel with others in their own culture and context, and then to lead those who come to faith in Christ.
According to Bronwyn, even though young people are coming to MEGST to study and learn English, the school embeds an ethic of practical mission into the courses and culture of the organisation right from the start. Students are expected to be involved in mission immediately, not just when their studies are complete.
“These young people are so passionate about making a difference in the world; they don’t isolate themselves from it while they are studying.”
The mission statement of MEGST is displayed in the chapel: “MEGST trains and equips Christians to be Christ-like leaders who build up the church and the nation of Myanmar and beyond.”
As the Kiwi Church, we often see ourselves as the missionary ‘senders’. But our brothers and sisters in Myanmar have the same vision – to see the Gospel of Jesus go out to all people. So we stand together and encourage each other in the work we do for Him, each playing our part.
This year’s ESOL team sent 9 volunteer trainers in tag teams from February through to May, and will continue to work with MEGST into the future.