“Our gospel presentation is upside-down. We need to start with Genesis.”
Pastor Chang (not his real name), who has been ministering for many years in the Buddhist country of Myanmar, believes that understanding Genesis is key to spreading the gospel there.
While Christians hope that Myanmar’s transition to democratic rule, begun in 2011, will increase religious freedom there, they have already been faithfully spreading the gospel during fifty years of oppressive military rule. Pastor Chang, for example, has seen more than 2,500 people profess faith in Christ in the last 10 years.
Although Christianity is legal in Myanmar, the church encounters many obstacles. Myanmar is 87% Buddhist, and people consider Christianity a foreign religion. Importing Bibles is illegal. Large gatherings are prohibited without official permission. New converts often are disowned by their parents and even expelled from their villages.
Pastor Chang hasn’t let these obstacles deter him. His church has a Bible school that trains 10 to 15 church planters in a year. Today they assist sixty house churches in nine of Myanmar’s fourteen states. Pastor Chang’s goal is to see that number grow to a hundred churches by 2020.
One of the most effective methods they have found to evangelize is to spend months in quiet groundwork, leading up to a two- to three-day salvation seminar. Because of widespread mistrust of Christianity and general fear of large gatherings, pastors must prepare the people long in advance. They take time to develop relationships with local officials as well as the citizens, and then after six months or a year, they invite them to the seminar. This relationship building helps ease officials’ fears about large meetings and lets them know that they can trust the Christians and their message.
In past years, the doctrine of creation was always a vital part of these seminars, but churches saw the need to do even more if they could get more training. So Pastor Chang attended a week of intensive creation training at Answers in Genesis in the United States. He says, “We need to start with Genesis, but we had been afraid to preach from Genesis because we knew we would get questions that we didn’t know the answers to.”
Now Pastor Chang is teaching those answers to other full-time Christian workers and incorporating them into his seminars. Teaching the history in Genesis 1–11 helps audiences see who God is (He originally made all things good), where sin originated (Adam’s rebellion in the Garden of Eden), and God’s merciful solution (the Last Adam, Jesus Christ). Chang says, “God is faithful, and if I am faithful to Him, I believe He will use me to do a big work for His kingdom in Myanmar.” The key is to share God’s Word right-side-up. Starting from the beginning, as the Bible does, we can trust its true, historical message to change lives