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 (Manna 65: Missionary Work)
Overseas Missionary Trip Journal—Myanmar (2010) and Philippines (2011)
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Overseas Missionary Trip Journal—Myanmar (2010) and Philippines (2011)

Derence Voo—Singapore

              By God’s grace, brother Derence Voo had the opportunity to participate in various overseas missionary trips in the past two years. Since 2010, he has been regularly teaching Religious Education (RE) classes at Batam, Indonesia. End of 2010, he visited Myanmar (formerly Burma) together with six choir members from Singapore, riding on a missionary trip of the Myanmar Mission Committee (MMC). Mid 2011, he had the opportunity to join the Voluntary Missionary Team (VMT) from Sabah to serve in Manila, Philippines. Following are some of his reflections on these trips for mutual encouragement.


In August 2010, Preacher Timothy from Myanmar visited Singapore and invited local church members to visit the churches in Myanmar. Seven choir members, including myself, took up his invitation and decided to visit two places in Myanmar in December 2010.

Before the trip, we spent two months preparing ourselves; we learned the phonetics of the native language Mizo and some basic phrases so we could carry out basic conversations with our brethren there. More importantly, we wanted to be able to sing simple hymns in this language. Hence, we practiced almost every evening until late into the night. Yet nobody was murmuring, which was heart-warming to see. I was particularly touched by two new choir members who were also willing to strive, learn and grow together with us.

December 2010 finally came, and we embarked on our missionary trip. In total, we spent ten days in Myanmar. During our trip, we visited churches at two locations and learned many precious lessons.


In Yangon, one of the largest cities in the South of Myanmar, we saw many brethren who love the Lord, despite their difficult lives. Among them was an elderly brother in his seventies. One of his sons contracted Polio and his daughter-in-law’s leg was amputated due to a misdiagnosis. His whole family of ten depends totally on this elderly brother’s income. Every day he cycles two to three kilometers to his students’ houses to tutor English. Although his life is difficult, he told me, “There isn’t much furniture in my house; it’s just a simple house, but as long as I have Jesus Christ, that’s enough for me.”

I had heard many similar testimonies before but when I saw these believers with my own eyes, I was really touched. In spite of their tough life, they preserve their faith. This has encouraged me to be contented and to draw near to God, even when my work gets very busy.


Besides Yangon, we also visited Kalay in the northern part of Myanmar. The infrastructure of this town is even less developed compared to Yangon, although the people are generally richer.

During a spiritual convocation that we attended at Sanmyo church in Kalay, I saw how believers offered vegetables, cows and pigs for consumption. Brethren who came from other rural churches brought their own mattresses and stayed overnight at church. Their spirit in attending the spiritual convocation really amazed me.

Apart from attending the spiritual convocation, we also visited some local church members’ houses. During one of these visits, I met an elderly sister who left a deep impression on me. In a time of crisis, when many members in Sanmyo joined other denominations, she had encouraged the brethren with the following words: “If the bottle does not contain wine, it doesn’t matter whether or not the word “wine” was written on the bottle, because it’s still an empty bottle. Likewise, if the church has lost the truth, then that church is not a church.”

Back then, only five families remained faithful. Undeterred by such setback, these faithful brethren congregated at a member’s house for family services. Thank God, they have kept their faith until today; now the MMC has given them another piece of land to build a new place of worship. From their testimony, we can see God’s care for His church, despite internal conflicts and other difficulties.

Next on our missionary agenda was conducting evangelistic services, at Pr. Timothy’s hometown church in Natkyikong. At another village, we even preached at the premises of a Presbyterian church! We also held an evangelistic service at the house of an observer from another denomination near Sanmyo. He invited some of his church council members to attend the service. After the service, one church council member told us that the sermon had really touched him; he could experience that the sermon was filled with hope and life.

Thoughts on Myanmar

Our churches in Myanmar need workers to help with various types of church work, such as evangelism, pastoral work, religious education, sacred music etc. God willing, the choir members will go to Myanmar again to assist in the work. Through this trip we have grown spiritually, and have learned to be content with what we have. More importantly, we realized how many blessings we have received from the Lord, which has inspired us to serve the Lord more.


In the past, I had heard much about the love of Sabah General Assembly’s VMT for God’s work in the Philippines. I was told that many working youths take leave every year to help with the work in the Philippines. They had also formed a VMT choir to assist hymnal evangelistic services in that area. For this reason, I was eagerly looking forward to my July 2011 trip to Manila.

However, when I realized that there were only four workers joining this trip, I was quite disappointed. I learned that the Manila church had taken over most of the holy work such as religious education, hymnal evangelistic service etc. For this reason, the VMT’s focus has shifted towards training local members in the area of planning and execution. In other words, Manila church has grown up. Thank God!

During this missionary trip, we visited church members, assisted in the Children's and Youths’ Day program and held a hymnal evangelistic service. On Children's Day, the kids were very happy. After hymn singing and prayer, all fifty to sixty children sat down quietly to listen to Bible stories. Among them were nursery class students who are too young to understand the stories, yet all of them sat there quietly and obediently; listening intently. No one was running around. It was such a joy to teach them.

During weekdays we visited members, among whom there are many faithful families. I remember a family who lives far away from church. Every Sabbath, they would take a taxi to church. The monthly taxi fare would use up almost half of their income yet, by faith, they are willing to spend this amount of money to keep the Sabbath.

There is another family, whose members, from old to young, serve the Lord. The older members are the church ministers and the younger ones follow the adults to serve in church. I like this family’s spirit in serving the Lord, as it is a very good example of a family altar.

Another member who touches me is an elderly sister who has been serving the Lord faithfully and fervently ever since she was baptized. Despite her age, she is still very keen to learn the word of God. We spent one whole morning with her to clarify her queries on the Bible. If only more of us shared this thirst for the precious word of God!

During this trip, I also achieved a breakthrough, which is to interpret sermons from Chinese into English. Normally, I do not interpret into English but the usual interpreters were not available. Therefore I had to step in. In terms of interpreting, I could be described as the servant who has only received five hundred talents—not even one thousand talents. Yet, by God’s grace, I was able to help with this work. Later on a preacher encouraged me with the following verse, which indeed rang true for me:

              “For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have” (2 Cor 8:12).

Thoughts on Manila

Although Manila church was established more than twenty years ago and local church members have gradually taken over much of the holy work, many areas of church work are still in their infancy. For this reason, we need to pray for them, and ask that God will raise more local workers to pastor the church.

This missionary trip has shown me the beauty of serving God wholeheartedly, away from the pressures of the secular world, where work demands have often hindered me from offering the best to my Lord. I have learned that we will experience God’s presence and guidance, when we focus fully in our service to God.


Visiting churches abroad, especially in pioneering areas, is also a great opportunity to hear many precious testimonies from our brethren, which will encourage us in our faith. We don’t need to be very gifted in order to serve in the missionary field. Our overseas brethren may not need tangible assistance; just a pastoral visit, could already be a form of encouragement to them. What they need is our love and care.

I hope that this sharing will encourage more youths to serve and to participate willingly in the overseas missionary ministry. Our busy work schedule often does not allow us to leave work for too long; therefore, I would encourage working brethren who would like to participate in missionary trips to prioritize and to plan their annual leave as early as possible. May the love of God compel us continually to serve the Lord in this area.

May all glory, honor and praises be given to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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