Submit Ourselves to God’s Ways
by Mya Mya Aye, December, 1998
Let me introduce myself. My name is Mya Mya Aye and I was born and brought up in Burma. Both of my parents are Chinese and I grew up worshipping Burmese and Chinese gods. As well, as is the Chinese custom, ancestral worship was practised in our home.
In our home, it was my mother’s responsibility to maintain the Buddhist altar, to keep it clean and make the offering of flowers and incense. My father did not believe in Buddha or any other gods and was atheistic in his thinking. One day, as a result of problems in his business, my father vented his anger on my mom, saying because she brought all her gods into the house, it had adversely affected his business. In his anger, he started destroying all the idols in the house. As I watched, I became scared because I thought his actions may bring the wrath of these gods upon us and that would be terrible. From that time on, I was eager to know the truth about these gods because my father said to us “all these statues are made of wood and can’t harm us”.
This all sounded very strange to me and conflicted with my mother’s beliefs and teaching she had imparted to me. The question stuck with me “what is the truth?”. Sometime after, I went to a Buddhist monastery with my friends and asked the monk what the truth is about Buddha but he could not answer me to my satisfaction. As a result, I felt very lost and determined ever more to know the answer because life is difficult to face when we are caught between two opinions.
In my third year of university, because of political demonstrations and unrest across the nation of Burma, the university was closed and I had nothing to do. One day my friend asked me to attend a class to learn oral English. The class was free and so I decided to join with her. Actually the teacher was a pastor and he was teaching English so as to be able to preach the gospel to us. At first, I would always disagree with him and took every opportunity to debate with him. After some time, he gave up trying to convince me and gave me a Bible and asked me to read it. When I read the Bible, I found that the things written in it were true and they spoke right to my heart.. Sometime later I realized why this was so. Only God knows us to the very depth of our being and it is through His word that He convicts people because as it says in Hebrews 4:12, His word is like a sword which is able to penetrate into the human heart to reveal the thoughts and intents of our hearts and also to show us what is true and false. For this reason, even though I had been searching for a long time for the truth about Buddha and whether there was in fact a God, I found that the Bible spoke right to my heart and I knew I had found the truth. This knowledge or revelation to my heart was something I could see was irrefutable and stood as a rock and a fortress in which I could have full confidence in and not be disappointed. Finally, as a result of this revelation, I was the only one who became a Christian among the hundred students in this English class.
From this English class and through the power of the gospel working in my heart, I decided to be baptised. I was attending the baptismal class and the pastor took the liberty of announcing my baptism in the English class, which was still going on. I was afraid of my friends telling my parents about my intention, as up until then, I had not told them anything regarding my interest in the gospel. At that time, something struck from the Bible and that was a promise from God that if I acknowledge Jesus in front of people, Jesus will acknowledge me in front of the Father ( Matthew 10:32-33). I was very encouraged by that verse and I didn’t care what anyone said about me even if they were going to tell my parents. I knew my decision to be baptised would have repercussions amongst my family but I was praying to the Lord to protect me and I had this peace and confidence in Him as I prayed to Him. I was baptised in 1989.
By the grace of God, I came to know Jesus Christ through my English teacher who also became my pastor. Our church was a Pentecostal assembly and we were all encouraged to “speak in tongues” and I also learned to do so. It was something I did through my emotions and I was not aware of what I was saying or doing. As a result, I was often confused and not really sure what being a Christian was really about. As well, the teaching in the church was not well grounded on the Bible and I had no spiritual direction. There were also problems among the church members with open rivalries, enmities and disputing and this all hung as a cloud over me as I sought for the truth. In spite of all this, I knew in my heart that Jesus was the one I needed to pursue and the experience of Him as my Lord and Saviour was something very real and not just an emotional or intellectual experience. This was something I began to realize as an important part of spiritual growth: that Jesus was someone we can come to experience but we must pursue after Him more and more, otherwise we are going to get lost amidst all the confusion in this world and even in the church, where Jesus is supposed to be worshipped and upheld but often isn’t.
As a Christian, I wanted very much to share the love of God with my family members, neighbours and friends. I tried many times to share my experiences with them but they couldn’t understand and also wouldn’t believe. At that time, I couldn’t see very clearly what the problem was and put the blame on them but later, I realized it was also due to the fact they couldn’t see the love of God in my life. All they could see was my selfishness. As I faced my own selfishness, I found that I was up against something too great for me. I couldn’t overcome it and yet I knew it was something I had to face and deal with. As I looked for a solution, I decided to become a full time church worker, thinking this must be the way.
I attended a Bible college in Burma for about two years and after completing that, decided to go to the Philippines in 1994 to further my Bible training in a seminary in Metro Manila. I thank God for His leading and the opportunity to receive further Bible training and seek for His will for my life.
Seminary was something I imagined to be a place where we would learn to communicate with God and deepen our experience of Him through quiet time and prayer. I was heart broken to discover the opposite was true. I can remember the first few days in the seminary, I was so disappointed that I retreated to my room and cried and cried. I felt deeply disappointed and very lonely, missing my family. Nobody knew my inner thoughts and feelings and no one seemed interested to know because they were too busy to talk to me. I could understand that everyone was too busy with their studies but this still didn’t help my situation and I wanted to return to Burma but couldn’t, given all that had been arranged for me to study in Manila. Very soon, I also became busy in my studies and forgot about this life of quietness and prayer and helping others, and I became like those who I had previously disliked because they had no time for me.
I thank God for leading me to Gospel Disciples Church in Metro Manila. Mr. And Mrs. Yap, my surrogate parents in the Philippines, introduced me to the church brothers and sisters, and I started attending the Sunday worship when I was able. I also attended the church camp in Marinduque, a province south of Metro Manila. I saw the love of God, the unity among the brothers and sisters and especially their genuine love for one another. This fellowship and love was what I had hoped to find in seminary but here in church was where I found it and it was an affirmation to me that God’s truth can be found in His church although it often isn’t, due to man’s failure to adhere to God’s word and ways.
I want to balance out what I have already said about my experience at seminary. While it is true that I didn’t find what I was looking for there, it doesn’t mean they were not good to me and all the other students. The school gave me everything I needed during my studies there and on a material level, I had more than enough. What they lacked was to be able to open up the spiritual riches to me which God so wanted me to see and experience and it was this that I was looking for when I came to the Philippines. What I realized while in seminary was the reality of the two roads mentioned in Matthew 7. There is a broad road and also a narrow road and both exist and are very real but the question is justify up to us which one we want to choose. As you will note from Matthew 7:12 that the narrow road is the choice of putting others first in our lives and it is costly because it deals with our own selfishness. When we choose selfishness by not putting others first, we find ourselves on the broad road. This of course confirmed my own understanding of why I was so ineffective in sharing the gospel with my family. It was because while I proclaimed experiencing God’s love, my own family couldn’t see the love of God flowing out of my live in relationship to them and therefore my message had no meaning to them. God’s riches are only available to those who choose the narrow road of life because that is where God’s grace and Spirit are poured out upon us just as we read in the beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), where God’s blessings are only for those who are willing to choose His ways.
In 1997, I again attended the Gospel Disciples Church camp in Cavite, south of Metro Manila. By this time, my training in the Bible seminary was coming into its last year and I was desperate as to what to do if I was to continue as a full time church minister. My impoverished spiritual situation called for some clear steps forward if I was to proceed with my intention of building up the spiritual body of Christ. I also realized that it could not be along the lines of the what I had been trained in at the seminary because I would only lead others into a similar impoverished state. At the camp, I was touched by the church members and leaders as again I could see the body of Christ come to life before my eyes. Here was something real and exciting and it renewed my spiritual vision and hope and it made me realize that this was the church God had called me to build up. At the same time, my own situation made my feel so desperate that I was crying because I didn’t know exactly what to do. I prayed to the Lord to open the way for me to proceed with the fulfilment of this spiritual vision.
My situation had become so desperate that at that time, even after having completed 2 years in Bible school in Burma and 3 ½ years of seminary in Manila, I was prepared to go home to Burma and give up the idea of serving the Lord full time. No one knew this but these were the thoughts in my heart. God in His mercy and in His timing, revealed to Him through the brothers, sisters and church leaders in Manila that indeed Christ’s body is alive and real and being a Christian has meaning and purpose. This spiritual life, which is expressed through the lives of God’s people, is something very tangible and something God means for all of His people world wide, if only they would follow and obey His words in the Bible. Just as it says in Acts 5:32 that God gives His Spirit to those who obey Him and hence, the spiritual riches of the church in Acts is something that can also be realized today if we as Christians are willing submit ourselves to God’s ways so that His Spirit can bring life to His church. Thank God for the brethren in Manila and also for God’s loving hand in calling me back just as I was going astray.
In conclusion, it is my desire to be part of God’s plan in building up His church in these final days, as we enter the new millennium and move quickly towards the day of Lord Jesus’s return. May each of us catch the vision and be found faithful in fulfilling this task of preparing the way for His return. May all praise and glory be to Jesus’ name. Amen.
(c) 2012 Christian Disciples Church