The Christian Conference of Asia’s 4th Asia Mission Conference was held Oct. 12-16, 2017 in Yangon, Myanmar. Initially, 400 people were expected to attend, but when the number increased to 600, the venue was quickly changed from Baptist Center to Franc Auditorium. The meeting was last held 23 years ago in Seoul. This time it was convened through the cooperation of the Myanmar Baptist Convention and the Myanmar Council of Churches. The theme of this year’s gathering was “Journeying Together: Prophetic Witness to the Truth and Light in Asia,” based on the Gospel of John 8:12 and 18:37. In his opening address, CCA General Secretary Dr. Mathews George Chunakara warned, “We are facing a number of pertinent challenges and questions... There are competitive forces out there which may undermine the credibility of Christian mission.” He noted that in some countries, missionary evangelism has brought on increasing persecution. However, the church in Asia stands secure in its sense of calling, and it is necessary to commit to mission and to witness to Almighty God.
On the afternoon of the second day, a panel discussion was held on the theme “Witness to the Truth and Light: Religious Perspectives.” The panelists were Shin Pannajota, a lecturer at International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University in Myanmar, where 88% of the population is Buddhist; Swami Navanama Janana Thapaswi, director of Santhigiri Ashram, Kerala, India, representing Hinduism; and Prof. Siti Musdah Mulia of the Council of Indonesian Ulema, representing Islam. The ensuing discussion examined truth and light from a number of angles. Of particular interest was Prof. Mulia’s powerful discussion of the need for different religions to join hands to work for peace and justice.
Each day of the conference the participants were divided into 20 groups for discussion of the Bible study. In my group, global warming and other environmental pollution problems were discussed in the beginning. We came to the conclusion that we should start with small things we can do in our everyday lives to reduce our carbon footprint, but for some reason there was a strong call for Japan to reduce its radioactive waste. During the second day’s discussion, a pastor from Myanmar talked about the fact that in the past, the Christian population of Myanmar reached 5% as a result of the work of a large number of foreign missionaries, but at some point foreign missionaries withdrew completely from the country. At that time, the Myanmar churches had only God to rely on, and as a result, Christians presently make up 8% of the population.
On Sunday, we were recommended to attend a local Baptist church and give the message. In my case, I was able to deliver the sermon at Wuna Kyezudaw Baptist Church, located about an hour’s drive away. The church sanctuary was about the size of an elementary school classroom, but it was filled with around 70 people, both children and adults, who participated enthusiastically in the service.
At 3:00 in the afternoon, we participated in a 60th anniversary service with more than 6,000 people, mainly from the Myanmar churches. Among those giving 60th anniversary messages was WCC General Secretary Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit. From Japan, Rev. Kawakami Naoya, executive director of Tohoku Help, was given time to speak on the theme of “Fukushima”; and on short notice, Rev. Heo Bae Kki of the Korean Christian Church in Japan was asked to lead the communion service during the closing worship. However, due to the time of our return flight to Japan, we were unfortunately unable to stay until the end of the conference. (Tr. DB)
—Kato Makoto, executive secretary
Christian Conference of Asia主催 Asia Mission Conference & Diamond Jubilee Celebrationに参加して 加藤 誠
日曜日は地元のバプテスト教会に出席することとメッセージを取り 次ぐことが勧められた。私は車で一時間ほどの距離にあるThe Wuna Kyezudaw Baptist Churchで 説教する機会が与えられた。