Jun16WedJune 16, 2021 By the TWR Canada Team
Brother Z, who is currently a student with SOTA and is also a missionary, recently wrote to us about his learning experience over the past two years. In the letter he said: "I enrolled in SOTA after being referred by my church pastor in 2018. While serving at a missionary field in Myanmar, I took the theology courses of SOTA. The courses have been a big help to my personal life and missionary service as well. After going through the very first lesson, ‘The Life and Service of the Workers,’ I began to follow the exercises taught in the curriculum. One was the practice of ‘being alone’. Being alone is not about personal relaxation time or having a holiday. It is about being renewed and changed through being alone with God, and about repenting in times of quiet reflection. I practiced ‘being alone’ for a while, and in 2018, I encountered great persecution in the missionary field. In addition to those who were arrested, most of the missionaries in Myanmar had to return to China. People were panicking, and the domestic pastors from China also suggested that we leave the field and return home. During that time, I was often alone with God, and I read Psalms 95-99 many times. I kept telling myself that God is the highest king, he is sovereign and he is the highest judge. My heart was strengthened by relying on God. With a few others, I decided to stay in the field rather than flee. During that time, I really experienced the presence of God with me. God also used our commitment to stay in the missionary field to comfort and strengthen the faith of the local brothers and sisters. They became stable in faith during the persecution. Glory to the Lord!
“In the pastoral counselling unit, we learned about ‘observation, listening, and compassion’, as well as ‘how to distinguish heretics.’ Thank God! Whatever we learn, God gives us the environment to put it into practice. The Eastern Lightning sect/cult is very serious in Myanmar. I found that many brothers and sisters who I was ministering to attended the meetings or gatherings of the Eastern Lightning and read their books. I provided them with the knowledge of distinguishing heretics, but the method I used was too harsh. I often severely rebuked them and warned them not to go to the cult meetings again, but this turned them away from me, and they would not contact me anymore. As I reflected, I remembered the lesson on observation, listening and compassion learned from the pastoral counselling unit. I recognized that I had no empathy or understanding, and I had a lack of sympathy and compassion for my brothers and sisters. Later, when my team contacted those who went to the Eastern Lightning meeting, we did not blame them again. We just loved and cared about them and encouraged them to read the Bible. At the same time, we prayed for their minds and hearts to be changed little by little.
“Among the historical figures of the Church from the Bible, I saw that missionaries have a mind focused on God’s kingdom and a heart to love the souls of people. They are willing to endure hardship and to self-sacrifice, to spread the gospel, and to testify of Christ. What an inspiration to me, looking at missions from the Bible and seeing that God is the God of missions. Missions is teamwork within the kingdom of God. The gospel is not only for every nation, but also for every class of every nation. I am grateful to God for allowing me to go through the lessons of SOTA during my service in the missionary field in Myanmar, so that I could learn a lot while gaining practical experience. May the Lord continue to help and guide me as I continue to apply what I have learned from SOTA to the field of service and mission."
Praise God for the way Brother Z is using what he has learned in his SOTA studies to train pastors who then minister all over the world. Please pray for our SOTA students as they learn and grow in their pastoral callings.