This morning I received a post from Rev. Moses Van L. Dawnga. Dawnga is the administrator of the New Life Presbyterian Orphanage. They are presently putting in this year's first rice crop in their new paddy field. The powerpoint presentation that shows the paddy field is a rather large file (it doesn't fill a CD-ROM, but it comes close). Thus Chris does not yet have that particular file up on the website, but perhaps it will be shortly. The objective with the paddy field is for the orphanage to move as much as possible toward self-sufficiency. Our design in helping them with the paddy field was to teach the orphans the importance of labor plus giving them a certain degree of independence respecting the price of rice in Myanma. Of course, many of the orphans are still too young to be much help in the planting season, but their turn will come in time.
Dawnga is eager to learn more about the reformed faith. I will teaching each day of a five day conference on 1) the gospel of free grace; 2) reformed church polity; and 3) the federal theology. Myanmar is an overwhelmingly Buddhist country, so we anticipate a number of baptisms when I arrive. If my "calculations" are correct, there should be something on the order of 30 paedobaptisms and 20 adult baptisms. Of course, one of the things we need to teach the officers is the ability to consider the credibility of an adult profession of faith. There is a long history of "rice Christianity" in Burma, and the last thing we want to do is contribute to that atmosphere. Thus, our approach up to now has been somewhat different from the typical evangelical missionaries who come to Burma. We believe the best way to bring these people out of poverty is to teach them the value of labor and service to neighbor. Simply offering them western largesse on the basis of them "professing Christ" is precisely what has caused the people to remain in poverty in spite of the gospel being in the country for nearly two centuries.
By preaching a "full-orbed" gospel, i.e. one that affects the entirety of the professor's life, we expect to see the people adopting both Christ and Christian values. Adoption of Christian values means that they will do their work to the glory of God. When they no longer work simply to keep a subsistence living, but do their best all the time to glorify the living God, we believe that the world's goods -- at least a competent portion of them will flow to these people, along with the blessings of God.