Missions Consultation Roundtable 2008, Bangkok, Thailand
“That they may know and confess Jesus as Saviour and Lord.”
About 160 delegates participated at this 3rd Missions Consultation Roundtable. Organised by the Diocese of Singapore, the Deanery of Thailand played host. Bishops, clergy and other church leaders from the dioceses in our Province (West Malaysia, Kuching and Sabah) were there, along with fellow workers serving in the deaneries of Nepal, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Archbishop Stephen Than Myint Oo participated with all his diocesan bishops from the Province of Myanmar and so did the Archbishop Francis Kyung Jo Park of the Province of Korea, and the Prime Bishop-elect Edward Malecdan Bishop Dixie Taclobao, and Bishop Joel Pachao from the Philippines as well as Bishop Peter Tasker from Sydney.
Representatives came from various dioceses/provinces and Mission agencies such as the Australian Board of Mission, CMS-UK, CMS-Australia, Crosslinks, Five Talents, United Bible Society. Emerging church groupings such as the Anglican Communion Network (USA) were also represented. Our sister diocese, Lichfiled Diocese (UK) also send some representatives. Theologians like Canon George Kovoor of Trinity College Bristol, Kim Hong Hazra from Trinity Theological College and Clare Amos, the current director of Theological Studies for the Anglican Communion and Secretary to TEAC (Theological Education for the Anglican Communion) also observed the proceedings.
The focus of the Consultation was clear: to strengthen the work of the gospel and churches in our deaneries, in order ‘that they may know and confess Jesus as Saviour and Lord.’
Detailed presentations and workshops were conducted on in each deanery. The videos, painstakingly put together were helpful in givings insight into the local culture and the nature of the work. The hard work and sacrifice by many, especially those who are based there long-term, are both inspiring and exemplary. It involves learning a new language and living in a different culture.
The progress of the work also reflects the involvement of parishes through prayer, financial support and personnel. Many parishes are counting it as a privilege to be able to get involved. It is a journey of discipleship as we serve our Lord beyond our own cultural milieu and in the spirit of servanthood. In serving – and receiving from those we serve – we find ourselves walking deeper in our faith in and love for Him.
At the same time, many are all too aware that partnership with experienced Mission agencies and other Provinces is necessary. There are deeper issues including cross-cultural adaptation, field care for missionaries, raising local leaders and other long-term perspectives that needs learning all the time. Our Province is young, and as a Missions family, even more so.
In Thailand, the early pioneering work of the late Ven Gerald Khoo and his wife, Dorothy has borne fruits. 10 congregations and various community projects have started. They are now further strengthened and reinvigorated under the leadership of the current Dean, Revd Yee Ching Wah. The next phase of church planting is to establish 6 mother churches in major cities which will in turn plant daughter churches in the nearby province, districts and towns.
The Deanery in Cambodia has now 20 congregations and outreaches. The early pioneering work of Revd Don Cormack and that of Revd Mok Wai Mung and his wife, Mok Mee Hwa - who returned back to Singapore after 12 years of service - have shown progress. The leadership of the Church is in the hands of the first Khmer priest – Revd Tit Hieng. The support work and training input for them continues through the dedicated work of a few clergy from our Province and elsewhere.
As for Nepal, we were heartened by the presence of Nepalese pastors. The pioneering work of Chew Boon Ann, Rev Norman Beale, Pastor Rinzi and Pastor Sam were acknowledged.
Now the Anglican Church there continues to grow and spread through the leadership of the local pastors.
In Laos, the wonderful work of ARDA (Anglican Relief and Development Agency) headquartered in Vientiane is progressing well. Two other centers are now opened in the cities of Luang Phabang and Pakse.
The Anglican Church in Indonesia has now more than 10 congregations and various ministries across the sprawling archipelago. A local training school (Institut Anglikan) for pastors is now established and a public elementary school is being built in Batam city centre.
As for Vietnam, various education and medical work have been in place and a new effort at re-establishing our present language teaching center in partnership with ARDA is being explored.
Bishops from the Province of Myanmar shared their heart-rending stories of their local work, life after the Cyclone Nargis and the ministry amongst the displaced Anglicans at the border. It is a reminder that the work of missions continue even in established Provinces and there is much room for partnership there as well.
The work, though difficult, is joyful as we hear stories of lives changed by the gospel and how they are practicing discipleship. It is also thrilling to see the young churches emerging and maturing.
While we were huddled in Hotel Benja, news reached our ears of the political trouble at the heart of Bangkok and the early signs of meltdown in our world economy. The participants remain unperturbed. It only served as a reminder that meeting the needs of the spiritually hungry is an on-going agenda for the Church.
The consultation was primarily not about theological or sociological discourses. There is a need for this but the focus was on a hands-on commitment to the work. And these ‘hands’ need to be held together in partnership. One Province cannot do it alone and we need friends to help us care and strengthen His Church scattered in this needy region.
A pastor from Myanmar spoke, “I remember falling into a well as boy. I needed help to get out of it. There are ‘well moments’ in the life of the Church when we feel we need another helping hand. We need partners to come and pull us out. Come please.”
May many more are found gathered at these wells.
For more information on how you may help in these countries, please contact our Director Of Missions, Dean Kuan Kim Seng at (firstname.lastname@example.org) or our Associate Director Of Missions, Revd Derek Lim at email@example.com