Baptist World Alliance (BWA) General Secretary Neville Callam offered praise to God and encouragement to Baptists in Myanmar during the celebration of the 200th anniversary of Baptist witness in the southeast Asian country.
The Myanmar Baptist Convention, with almost 1 million members in more than 4,700 churches, is one of the largest BWA member organizations in Asia. (Photo: BWAnet.org)
Callam, who delivered greetings at the opening service of the Myanmar Bicentenary on Dec. 5, said the series of events were "a celebration of the faithfulness of God who, through changing seasons, has never failed to undergird, empower, equip and enable all who have sought to bear witness in Christ's name in Myanmar."
He challenged Myanmar Baptists to serve the Lord joyfully and to bear witness to their faith "with conviction, yet never straying from the path of humility, love and respect for all people."
He said respect should be shown to other Christians and to people of other faiths and that they should stay true to the historical Baptist commitment to religious liberty "as a God-given right."
Callam declared that remaining true to the gospel in culturally relevant ways – "Myanmarizing the faith" – was important.
"Continue the work of finding the appropriate forms for communicating the Good News of Jesus in Myanmar," he said.
"Identify and introduce ways of responsibly appropriating the cultural traditions of the people of Myanmar in conveying the Gospel message."
They were to "develop and offer an authentic version of the Gospel that the people of Myanmar can easily understand and with which they can easily identify."
In his sermon delivered on Dec. 6, the head of the BWA said "if there is anything that we may learn from the 200 years of Baptist witness in this country, and if there is any principle that we should keep in focus for the years to come, it is this: Those who venture forth on pilgrimage with the God revealed in Jesus Christ are called to focus their lives and direct their energies toward one primary end, namely, the glory of God. This is the mark of true discipleship and this is the end of all Christian striving: the search for the glory of God."
He challenged the large congregation to "participate in God's grand design to bring all of creation under the lordship of Jesus Christ."
They were "to practice the love of God and neighbor that is part of God's great desire for the people whom God has made." By these two means, Callam said, "the people will make known the very nature and character of God."
Also on Dec. 6, Callam led a delegation that met with Minister Aung Min, chief government negotiator leading the Myanmar Peace Process. Min conveyed a positive vision of a future unified, pluralistic Myanmar society.
Callam said "we should all pray for the establishment of peace with justice in Myanmar. Especially, we should remember prayerfully the leadership being exercised by Minister Min."
Others in the delegation were Roy Medley, general secretary of American Baptist Churches USA; Stan Murray, International Ministries area director for Asia/Japan; Yam Khon Pau, Myanmar Baptist Convention general secretary; and Ler Htoo, leader of Karen Baptists of USA.
A series of events in 2013 inside and outside Myanmar had been planned to mark the bicentenary, with the celebrations in the country climaxing in December.
Baptist witness in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, began in 1813 with the arrival of Adoniram and Ann Judson.
The Myanmar Baptist Convention, with almost 1 million members in more than 4,700 churches, is one of the largest BWA member organizations in Asia.
An estimated 30,000 Baptists gathered in the city of Yangon for the 200th anniversary celebration.
This news release first appeared at the Baptist World Alliance news page.