|Since my husband Andrew and I made the move to join an Anglican church a few years ago, one of my favorite things about Anglicanism has been the global community of believers that exists within this tradition. Our own church, St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Birmingham, AL, has a substantial population of East African believers who were Anglican first in Kenya or Uganda before moving to the U.S. On our recent trip to Myanmar with Anglican Frontier Missions, we were able to experience the global Anglican Communion in a whole new way.
Earlier this summer, a team of five people (four Beeson Divinity School students—Jarrod and Rachel Hill, my husband Andrew, and I) and The Rev. Keith Allen, the ACNA Canon to Myanmar, were able to spend two weeks in Myanmar. We offered theological training for clergy and visited many isolated churches in rural areas to share with them words of encouragement, prayer, and greetings from their Anglican brothers and sisters in the United States.
During our visit, we met dozens of Anglican priests, deacons, and catechists, as well as many of their congregations, and we were able to worship with them and learn more about the needs of their churches and how God is at work among them. Poverty is widespread: much of the region is still facing civil unrest and war with the government. The politics are unpredictable, and persecution is always a lingering possibility. But the Anglican church in Myanmar is pressing on and living as the hands and feet of Jesus in so many ways.
Of the many churches we visited, here are just a few of the beautiful ministries we saw taking place. A preschool where most of the students come from Buddhist families, an orphanage that houses and cares for dozens of young boys, temporary housing and shelter for people displaced by in-country fighting, and an upcoming plan for catechists and clergy to visit smaller churches throughout the country to equip laypeople to serve the poor and share the Gospel in their contexts. God is clearly at work among Anglicans in Myanmar, and it was a joy to be a part of His work, even for just a short time.
Christianity represents around 8% of Myanmar’s population, quite a bit for that region of the world, and Anglicanism is the third largest Christian denomination there, following the Baptist and Catholic churches. There are eight Anglican dioceses in the country, and during our trip we were privileged to work with one of these: the Myitkyina Diocese in the northern part of the country, near the border with China.
One of the greatest needs of the church in Myanmar right now is for increased access to solid theological training for clergy and catechists. Though Christians are certainly the minority in Myanmar, the church there is absolutely capable of reaching their Buddhist neighbors with the Gospel, but only if the clergy have a robust theology of the Gospel that they are regularly instilling into their congregations. Our goal on this trip was to provide a small dose of the type of theological training we hope to see one day throughout the church in Myanmar. To do so we taught through the entire book of Acts over the course of four days for a diocesan clergy training retreat at Christ the King Cathedral Church in Myitkina.