Overseas Missionary Trip
Journal—Myanmar (2010) and Philippines (2011)
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
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
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.
SERVICE OF LOVE
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
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.