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Moving Forward in Mission to Myanmar

A Letter from Bill and Ann Moore, serving in Japan

May 2018

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It was an exciting and encouraging return to Myanmar after a year’s absence. From a material perspective, the changes are amazing. Yangon’s international and domestic airport has been transformed from a chaotic and rundown relic to a smoothly operating world-class facility. New hotels and high-rise condominium towers have sprouted up into the sky. Rapidly increasing investment from China, Japan and South Korea mean more factories producing more goods for local and foreign consumption, as well as more cars and trucks on the road producing air pollution and formerly unknown traffic paralysis.

On this second trip to Myanmar, we were accompanied by three medical doctors: Dr. Nabetani from our Japan Mission’s Yodogawa Christian Hospital in Osaka, Japan, and Drs. Lee and Chin Pak from Yonsei University Hospital in Seoul, Korea. It was the vision of our Japan Mission in mission partnership with the PC(USA) to lead teams of physicians from different countries to the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar’s Agape Hospital in rural Kalaymyo to offer unavailable medical services in the name of Jesus Christ. Especially lacking are the services of specialists, which means patients must travel long distances to receive appropriate treatment. For many, the cost of this is prohibitive, and for acutely ill patients, impossible. Diagnostic equipment at Agape Hospital is also lacking. For example, patients must go to other hospitals to have x-rays taken because Agape Hospital’s x-ray machine is not only old and obsolete, but it is also irreparable.

We were delighted that this first international medical team came from hospitals founded through the mission work of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Yonsei University’s Severance Hospital was founded in 1885, and Yodogawa Christian Hospital in 1955. Both have become large general hospitals that are known for their Christian witness and medical excellence. Just as they were founded through Christian medical mission, they seek to reach out in mission themselves.

After a night’s rest in Yangon, we boarded a two-hour-long domestic flight to Kalaymyo in the west-central region of Myanmar near the Indian border. What we noticed most was that in our little-over-a-year’s absence, the number of scooters plying the roads of the town appear to have multiplied exponentially. In fact, few people seem to be walking anymore. It was breathtaking to see families of four and five, infants and all, precariously balanced on their scooters, whizzing down the main road of Kalaymyo at breakneck speed. This was testimony not only to valor, but also to the fact that consumer items like scooters have become affordable to many families in Kalaymyo.

That evening, we attended a banquet hosted by the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar, Rev. Ling Zaw. He and other leaders of the church were leaving the next day for the annual General Assembly of the denomination in the interior of Chin State, a 10-hour journey over rough mountainous roads. Bill and Rev. Zaw expressed appreciation for the partnership that is developing between the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar and Japan Mission in mission partnership with the PC(USA). We all gave thanks to God that a new electric power transformer for Agape Hospital was in the final stage of installation. This transformer will finally protect the hospital from the electrical power disruption that has regularly endangered patients.

Coming from Japan Mission’s Yodogawa Christian Hospital was Vice Superintendent Dr. Makoto Nabetani, a pediatrician who is the head of the Children’s Hospice. He was particularly interested in assessing the availability of medical care for infants and children in rural Myanmar. Dr. Lee and Dr. Pak from Yonsei University Hospital in Seoul are well-experienced in medical mission. Dr. Lee, a practicing dermatologist and professor at the university’s medical school, is the former head of the Medical Mission Center of Severance Hospital, which has been involved in overseas medical mission and the post-graduate training of foreign physicians who come to the medical school from many countries. Dr. Pak is a pediatrician with mission experience in Mongolia and China and is presently head of the Medical Mission Center.

Dr. Lee and Dr. Pak offered to provide a free dermatology clinic at Agape Hospital. Not knowing how many would attend the clinic, they planned for about 100 patients and brought drugs from Korea to treat that number. In fact, some 250 patients were seen over two-and-a-half days. We later discovered that there is no specialist in dermatology for hundreds of kilometers around Kalaymyo, so people of all walks of life were drawn to the clinic to receive healing in the name of Jesus Christ.

Because there are many language groups in Kalaymyo, there was a need for interpreters to translate Dr. Lee and Dr. Pak’s English into a language understood by patients. Two multilingual professors from the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar’s Tahan Theological College graciously volunteered to serve as translators for the duration of the dermatology clinic. We hosted a luncheon for the two professors after the clinic was closed, and one of them said to Dr. Lee, “I was deeply moved by the way you interact with your patients because you always gently touched their skin with your hands while you made the diagnosis. No matter how seriously diseased the patient was, you lovingly and kindly touched their sores. Through your hands I was able to witness and understand for the first time the healing touch of Jesus Christ.”

We are also moved when we witness healing in the name of Jesus Christ not only at Japan Mission’s Yodogawa Christian Hospital in Osaka, Japan, but also at the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar’s Agape Hospital in Kalaymyo. It is by your gifts and prayer that our ministry in Japan has been sustained for 33 years. We thank you for your prayer and faithful gifts that grant us the joy and privilege of serving Jesus Christ by serving those whom God loves. We ask that you prayerfully consider partnering in this mission by financial participation in our support, which is needed now more than ever.

In Christ,

Bill and Ann Moore

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