Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Burma Expedition, Missionaries, and Elephants...

Our house is full of talk and planning for an exciting new opportunity our brothers have to work for Christ’s kingdom!  We are all up to our ears in books about Burma and Buddhism and elephants and the transformation of culture through the gospel.  The following is a letter Charlie and Ben are sharing with friends and family about their mission:

Charlie and I (Benjamin) trust this finds you well.  We want to let you know about an exciting opportunity we have this summer.  Last July, we attended a Hazardous Journey Boot camp in the mountains of Colorado, training for strenuous and enterprising expeditions to advance the gospel.

This year, the Hazardous Journeys Society is launching a ten-year mission, sending teams of men to each of the 190+ countries in the world in order to proclaim the glory of God through exploration and discovery. Our team leader, Kurtis Amundson, has been commissioned by the Hazardous Journeys Society to undertake an expedition to Burma this July.

For centuries, the orient has been a place of fascination for Christian explorers, adventurers, and missionaries.  In 1277, as an emissary to the Yuan Dynasty, the Christian explorer Marco Polo traveled to the kingdom of Mien—what today is Burma, or Myanmar. He described its capitol as a “gilded city alive with tinkling bells and the swishing sounds of monks’ robes.” The 19th Century saw British rule in the orient expand westward from India making formerly unnavigable foreign lands available as mission fields for Christian evangelism. In this newly discovered land,  Adoniram Judson arrived on July 13, 1813, and was ‘devoted for life’ to the spreading of the Gospel.

As our team returns to Burma on the 200th anniversary of Judson’s arrival, we will examine the legacy of exploration and evangelism in this land by focusing on his ministry, influence, and the impact of the gospel on the Burmese culture.  We hope to inspire others by reviving Judson’s legacy and proclaiming the culture-transforming power of the gospel.

In addition to chronicling the Christian influence in Burma, we want to present a proper and Biblical understanding of Buddhism.  Buddhism is practiced by 89% of the Burmese population. Burma is a nation steeped in idolatry. With thousands of pagodas, stupas, and statues scattered over the landscape, the nation is recognized as the most religious Buddhist country in the world in terms of the proportion of monks in the population and proportion of income spent on religion. Our team will seek to examine the comprehensive effect that Buddhism has on the Burmese culture, investigating how every realm of influence—familial, ecclesiastical, civil, and personal—is affected by their pagan and idolatrous worldview.

As a team, we will live in simple bamboo houses, and travel to the ruins of the ancient capital city of Bagan. We will travel throughout Burma and step foot into the Buddhist culture, learning first-hand the influences of the Buddhist religion on every sphere of life. We will listen to the monks speak of the Buddhist culture, see the Buddhist marble bible, and visit the garishly exorbitant Schwadegon Pagoda.  We will speak with the great-grandchildren of men and women who witnessed the transforming power of the gospel in the nation and we will interview local church leaders, some of them former Buddhist monks, to hear first-hand accounts of Judson’s legacy. Our purpose is to create a record for posterity of the providences of God in the land of Burma; to tell a story for our children and their children in a way it has never been told before.

At the conclusion of the expedition, the team will produce resources compiling the results of their work for the Christian community.  There is a cost to proclaiming the truth — the cost of criticism and the sacrifice of time and resources spent to research, formulate, and present the power of the gospel coherently. In recognition of the momentous nature of the task we have undertaken, we would welcome your financial support.

The Hazardous Journeys Society is a project of Vision Forum Ministries, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization so all gifts are tax-deductible. Donations can be made through the Vision Forum Ministries website for our Burma Expeditions by follow the link below.

Thank you for your support of this project.

Benjamin and Charlie Lenz

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