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Myanmar

In 1987, Wee Tiong Howe went on his first mission trip to Thailand, where he visited a bible school in Si Racha. There he met a young man named Lin Sein Lian, who was an interpreter, and his wife Peggy. As they spoke, Tiong Howe found out that Sein had the desire to go to a bible school. So in 1988, Tiong Howe sponsored him to study Master in Missiology in Philippines. Peggy also completed a Master in Christian Education there. After graduating they could have gone elsewhere, but they returned to Myanmar and started the CPI programme. Then John Teo took over. 

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My Story

HOW IT BEGAN by John Teo

I first set foot in Myanmar in 1987 on a mission trip with my church. After having discovered a former business partner of mine was sponsoring the first charismatic bible school in Yangon, my church and I had started to partner her in the work.

 

Just a few years later, Wee Tiong Howe invited me to join ICM Singapore. At my first meeting with the directors, my attention was caught by the unique strategy of training locals to be church planters. They talked about how they would put together writings by John Garlock and Gerald Rowlands to form modules for ‘Bible School In A Briefcase’ (later this material would become known as Church Planting Institute and used in many other countries too). This programme would be brought into the rural hinterland of third world countries, where most would never have entered an institute of education, let alone have the chance to attend bible school.

 

As with most people on their first mission trip, I found myself forming an affinity with the country and a love for the people. Firstly, it was the excitement of taking a journey and crossing the boundaries into another nation. Secondly, I believe it was also the work of God that put an excitement in my heart. I saw that God’s anointing was upon the ministry in Myanmar. We saw miracles and healing take place wherever we went.

 

Lastly, witnessing the hopeless situation the Myanmese people were in left a deep impression on me and I started to have a burden for them. There were very few jobs available even for university graduates, yet the political climate was not suitable for starting privately-owned businesses either. It was one of the poorest countries in the world at the time and people were desperately in need of hope.

 

The people were hungry and ready to receive the good news of Christ but they had almost zero access to Christian material. It was time for the Bible School In A Briefcase to be brought into the land of Myanmar!  

STRATEGIES 

1. CPI Training

In 1997, we started to launch CPI training but the methodology for the first two to three years did not work. We were going to pastors’ conferences and local churches to offer our books to anyone who was interested, free of charge[1]. In its place, Reverend Lin and his wife launched the House of Praise Bible Institute (see below). By the time 2013 rolled around, there were more than 100 bible schools in Yangon of the same type. The time was ripe to launch CPI material.

 

We replaced the usual bible school curriculum with CPI training. Each course consists of eight weeks[2] of residential training. One week is solely dedicated to evangelism, where they memorise bible verses, learn the methods of evangelism, how to tackle theological questions, and are launched out to share the gospel.

 

2. House of Praise (HOP) Bible Institute

As Rev Lin and his wife were bible school graduates themselves, they were able to form a faculty and advisory board together with other graduates. He was the national director of the Evangelism by Explosion[3] programme at the time and translated the material into Burmese to form the bible school curriculum. The institute offered one to three-year courses during its run from 1997 to 2013, and have a sizeable alumni today. Fees were completely paid for by St. Hilda’s and ICM Singapore so the students get to attend bible school at no charge. Dormitories were built nearby for students and staff, too, on a 10, 000 square feet land (slightly bigger the average mansion).

 

Two distinctions set HOP Bible Institute apart from the rest of the bible schools in Yangon. Firstly, lessons were conducted in Burmese, instead of English. This ensured that the students’ understanding and growth would not be hampered by a language barrier. Secondly, lessons have a very practical slant towards evangelism. There is no better approach to learning how to share the gospel than getting practical! So almost every Saturday, HOP Bible Institute students were sent out to nearby villages with the goal of leading someone to Christ.

 

3. House of Praise (HOP) Church

Initially, we tried to allocate the new converts brought in by students to local churches, but they were not keen to receive the new converts. As a result, the students invariably started little meeting places for the new converts to gather. At one time, they even had several outstation Sunday schools and worship centres operating at the same time. As time went by HOP Church was birthed as a natural consequence of evangelism. It was the perfect church planting model for our CPI graduates.

 

4. House of Praise (HOP) Clinic

This clinic provides free medical consultation, medicine, and treatment to the community. It operates once a week on Thursday afternoons. Doctors and nurses are employed by our man of peace. HOP students mend two stations – administration and prayer. After the patients have seen their doctor, they would then be ushered to a back room to be prayed for by the students. This is part and parcel of training for HOP students.  

 

5. Humanitarian Aid

Usually whenever there is a natural disaster, HOP church and bible institute would respond accordingly. However when cyclone Nargis (the worst natural disaster in the recorded history of Myanmar) struck, St. Hilda’s church came alongside to provide a one-off contribution to spearhead rebuilding efforts.

 

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