I went into this trip still trying to get over my laryngitis and bronchitis, so I was concerned that the pressure changes on the plane would cause me serious pain. But God had apparently healed me enough to keep me from having any problems. My voice wasn’t strong enough to preach the first Sunday in Myanmar, but I was able to give a testimony to encourage the people. I wanted to save my voice to lead the consultant seminar during the week, so I passed up the opportunity to preach in the service.
This is the third year we had the seminar in Asia, and it’s the first time we did it in Myanmar (usually it’s in India). The plan was to hold the seminar in the new Myanmar Translation Center, but because of various reasons for delays, we weren’t able to use it, though the construction is probably 90% complete. Instead, the Lord provided a nice air-conditioned room in a local Bible college (connected to one of our adjunct consultants). We had no Plan B for the seminar, but God worked it out that the seminar would occur after Bible school graduation, which allowed us to have use of the Bible school facilities. I heard it would have cost a couple hundred dollars per hour to rent a room in Yangon, so we were so thankful that God prepared for this Plan B!
God worked in such a way that around 10 of us converged in Myanmar for a week of technical sessions to help us be better consultants for the Lord. I scheduled workshops around the seminar so that consultants would not have to pay for their travels (since workshop travel is covered by BI). This was the most well-attended Asia Consultant Seminar yet! In addition to the consultants, we also had translators (the Falam Chin translator is in the right back row above) and our interim BI director, Gary Walton, join us for a few days.
Each consultant who attended gave a presentation. I intentionally worked it out this way so that I would not have to bear the full load of preparing material. Plus, our consultants are extremely talented and knowledgeable, so we benefit more by allowing all to share. We discussed the importance of visiting the land of Israel to understand biblical backgrounds, fluency for Scripture engagement, James Kugel’s The Idea of Biblical Poetry, discourse analysis of Mark 12:1-12, neologisms and compound words, and difficult passages in Proverbs and other places in the OT. We also gave significant time to lexicography (dictionary making) and ParaTExt (our Bible editing program). We are seeing more and more the value of producing dictionaries to improve our translations and help our language groups.
During the seminar, we also enjoyed many informal times of team bonding, which is actually the primary purpose of the seminar. We got to see a second edition of Judson’s Bible, took a river cruise, and ate at many different restaurants (including an Indian one above, where the order was yelled out to the kitchen right after we told the young boy waiter what we wanted).
After my time in Myanmar, I head to Singapore to give a report at and minister to our supporting church there. I so wish Oksana where with me for this trip (as we originally planned before she got pregnant), and especially for this part of the trip, because I wanted her to meet my dear friends in Singapore. I had the privilege–at their request–of teaching both churches (Pasir Panjang Christ Church and Grace Independent Baptist Church) about English Bible versions and giving them the facts of the situation to help them deal with those who try to unsettle them about “missing verses.” My voice wasn’t strong enough to sing on the first weekend in Singapore, but I was able to teach in SS and preach in the AM service. On the following Sunday, I was asked to speak in all three slots, and God strengthened my voice for that task. I enjoy getting to eat with friends in Singapore, because the fellowship is so encouraging and the food is so good. In the picture below, I’m eating amazing Chinese food with Pastor Joshua Wong, the pastor of the first church (PPCC). I don’t have pictures of the second church I visited, but I really enjoyed being with Pastor Ping Ngian and his family and church. My last time with the church was in 2011, so it was good to see them again.
Between my two weekends in Singapore, I took a trip to southern India. I can’t say too much about this trip because of the increased sensitivity of Indian immigration, but I will say that I accomplished all my objectives, by God’s grace and thanks to many people’s prayers. I had been concerned ever since I began planning this trip a number of months ago that it would be extremely challenging to travel in this part of the country by myself not knowing anyone. But God guided and protected me all the way. God uses the experiences I’ve had in traveling to help me avoid getting ripped off by taxi drivers (one driver purposely took the long way to try to get more money from me!) and stay away from danger (one taxi got into a small accident in Bangalore). Ultimately, it was not my travel smarts that protected me, but my powerful Deliverer. I enjoyed doing some site-seeing on the trip too. At one place I visited, I got to see many monkeys freely climbing around the Hindu temples.
I’m always struck by the blatant idolatry whenever I visit India. Walking down the streets of one area within an ancient fort, I was reminded of Paul’s experience in Athens in Acts 17. What incredible needs for the gospel to go forth with power in India!
During the trip, I usually had enough Internet access to connect with my wife, for which I am so thankful. We even got to use Skype at times in all three countries. And most of all, I’m thankful that God protected her and our unborn child, and that He kept her from delivering our baby until I got back. Less than a month away!
Pray for four of us who will spend Tuesday and Wednesday working out the particulars of a new constitution at Bibles International. We need much wisdom as there is so much pioneer thinking to do!