Preaching for Reformed Baptists
Last Sabbath was a typical Lord's Day in MM. We don't speak enough of the language to be able to profit from a worship service, so I generally accept invitations to preach. Next week I am scheduled to preach at the ERC (Evangelical Reformed Church) of Yangon. I preach "through" an interpreter, usually Pasiang. Today I preached in Michael Zahau's Reformed Baptist church. Michael is the man who is doing the lion's share of the translation work for the Falam language Saamhla (Psalter). He has finished at least rough draft translation through Psalm 134. There are some revisions it must undergo and then Tha Nei Sum will finish the "assembly" process by arranging the music (tunes) for the Psalms. Tha Nei Sum is one of the few people in the country who is able to read both staff notation (they refer to it as "stem notes") and tonic sol-fa notation. Pasiang is concerned that they should have the same tunes for the Burmese Psalter as for the Falam Psalter, but I really think his concerns are misplaced. He thinks that if the Yangon classis sings from the Burmese Psalter with one set of tunes and the Kale and Falam classes sing from the Falam Psalter with a different set of tunes that this will cause problems at synod meetings. I think he is borrowing troubles that he need not concern himself with. Synod takes place once in three years. Surely they will be able to figure out which Psalter to sing from if they can figure out which language they are going to use for the synod meeting itself.
We're Losing Some Guests Today
BEE (Biblical Education by Extension) has had some reps here since we've been here. At first it was Carl (Artie) Hunt, and when he went home his place was taken by Tom Arnold and Curtis Thomas. Curtis Thomas is the same man who, together with David Steel, wrote The Five Points of Calvinism and Romans: An Interpretive Outline back in the 1960's. Mr. Steel passed away about 10 years ago and Mr. Thomas retired from the ministry about five years ago. Since that time he continues active with BEE. The organization has purchased or rented -- I'm not sure which -- a facility for the Myanmar Bible Seminary of Henry Mang Hlei Thang. The seminary itself is independent, but Henry and his brother are the cofounders of the Biblical Presbyterian Church. Apparently Messrs Thomas and Arnold have been teaching both there and at "Solomon's School," a place I know nothing about except that it has a pretty Arminian reputation. I think that they are also distant cousins of some sort to Tawk Kap. But Tawk Kap has distanced himself from most of the reformed community at this point. Today Messrs Thomas and Arnold return to the US. It has been a pleasure getting to know Mr Thomas especially. Back in the day, I used to hand out a lot of copies of his book. That was back when we could get most of the Calvinists in Missouri into my AMC Gremlin all at the same time and still have room for the spare tire. We loaded up the Gremlin with copies of The Five Points in Memphis and motored back to Springfield with them, where we handed them out on Arminian Baptist College campuses. Mr Thomas tells a similar story about a time when he, David Steel, and one other man were driving up to visit Lorraine Boettner when he was in Rock Port, MO. They thought that if they had a fatal car wreck it could "wipe out" Calvinism in Arkansas. We were all lonely back in those days. His book was some assurance to me that perhaps we were on the right track in spite of the fact that there were so few of us. There was not yet a PCA and it was questionable whether the ARP would be able to turn the corner and return from its move toward liberalism.
And Gaining Some Others
A couple of ladies arrived Saturday. They are from America and seem to be in the flannelgraph business. Their contacts do not seem to know them. Whenever they have guests they always have to introduce themselves. They did not venture out of the hotel for several days, but invited their guests to come and eat lunch with them in the lobby while they explained how to teach to children using flannelgraph. The Chin for their part seem to be wondering why someone would be using a perfectly good longyi to hold up pictures. For any readers who do not know what flannelgraph is...count your blessings.
Class Resumes on September 29
I think I will continue to have a few students from the URCM for Old Testament Intro, but most of the students will be from RBI. Pasiang will be translating for me. Class will consist of students from various ethnic and tribal backgrounds, so he will translate into Burmese for me. Hopefully we will be able to do General Intro the first week and Special Intro (individual books) the second week. I should be able to guage better after the first few days how much ground we will actually be able to cover. Class will be only 44 classroom hours, so with a translator we will have to rush. If Pasiang uses half the time, it will have to be done in just over 20 hours. If I am not able to cover the material in the first course I will know better how long to take if I should teach it again.