Rugged Myanmar provides perfect ‘classroom’ to share the Gospel
Plagued for years by ethnic strife and military rule, lacking infrastructure and teaching resources, Myanmar is a nation struggling to transition to democracy. But for Kyle Walker, vice president for student services and assistant professor of preaching, it was the ideal mission experience. After traveling to Myanmar in late March and early April to train pastors, he says, “It was quite an adventure.”
Walker, who had been seeking a way to use his skills to share the Gospel, believes that the trip to Myanmar provided an ideal platform for teaching and evangelism. “I had always said, ‘Lord, I know that when you know what’s right, you’ll bring it on,’” Walker says.
“I used my Ph.D. to train pastors. And I also wanted to use my love of the outdoors to reach people. I was able to connect with them over a way of life, and it all came together.”
Walker began researching the prospect of ministering in this South Asian nation after a pastor from Myanmar visited the Southwestern campus and requested that Walker come and help train pastors. Walker raised his own funding from friends and family, not wanting to deplete seminary resources, and he enlisted Shane Kirby, a Master of Divinity student, to accompany him. They planned to begin the training before the start of Myanmar’s rainy season.
The trip required three flights over 13 hours, followed by eight hours on mountain roads. “It was quite a journey to get there,” Walker says.
In the first village they visited, they conducted pastor training during the day and revival services at night. Walker estimates that about 50 local people made professions of faith during their visit.
Later, they moved on to a more remote village via a six-mile hike over the hills. “I was in shape to do it, but these people made it look easy—women carrying 40 pounds of rice on a strap on their heads,” Walker says. “At night, we slept on the ground and surrounded our campsite with fire. They asked questions around the campfire about God and Jesus.”
Local people were instructed in text-driven preaching—preaching that adheres to the substance, structure and spirit of the biblical text “and its credibility as the inerrant Word of God.” Furthermore, Walker and Kirby distributed books to pastors who did not have access to teaching resources.
Walker and Kirby, who often hunt together, also went hunting with the local men. “Hunting allowed us to speak to a lot of men who normally wouldn’t have come to church,” Walker says.
On Easter Sunday, Walker preached two morning sermons and an evening service. “It was my first time to speak through a translator,” he says. He was also grateful that Kirby accompanied him. “The Lord provided me with the right guy,” he says. “Sometimes God knows us better than we know ourselves.”
If the opportunity arose, Walker says he would make the trip again. “God provided us with what we needed to go. If the Lord wants me to go back, He’ll provide the funds, and I’ll go.”