Gary Cooper, (MCNet Coach) – The predominate religion of Myanmar (known as Burma before 1989) is Buddhism. It is surrounded by Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand. Though the Gospel first came to this country through missionaries in the early 1800s, it is still over 90% Buddhist with only a few believers. The gold gilded Pagoda in the main city of Yangon (Rangoon) is a focal point for Buddhism around the world.
In June of this year we held our first leadership training conference in Asia, in this country of Myanmar. Phil joined our local ministry coach, Gary, who is currently living in Myanmar. Gary and Gail Cooper first joined our Ministry Coaching Network when they and the Jeskes were living in Berlin. Since those days in Berlin, the MCNet has expanded from Europe to Russia/Ukraine, Latin America (Cuba), as well as West Africa.
It has only been several years since Myanmar has experienced limited freedoms, after decades of military rule. As with most societies, the leadership culture of the church often reflects the values of leadership within the society in which it is embedded. This is why the principles of biblical leadership are so important. The relationships in the Body of Christ are to be truly different than the society around it. As Jesus taught in Matt. 18, while the Gentiles lord position and authority over each other, it was not to be so in the church. Unfortunately, attitudes of leadership in the church are very similar to what we see in the world. Focused on position and power rather than serving and releasing others.
As we have seen in other countries (such as Russia and Cuba), Christian leaders in the church often reflect more of the world’s pattern rather than the servant leadership model that Jesus’ modeled. This is the rationale of the emphasis of our training on Jesus’ model of servant leadership and how fundamental this is to developing and releasing other leaders. To have a reproducing ministry, the church or ministry has to healthy; to have a healthy church necessitates developing a healthy team; in order to have a healthy team leaders need to be committed to the values of mentoring others and releasing others into ministry (inside and outside of the church).
Our ministry is about articulating these values, and then challenging leaders to join us in developing healthy ministries that will be able to reproduce these values in others. In Myanmar we discovered leaders who were looking for materials that would help them grow as leaders and then assist them in developing other leaders so that their ministries would be healthy. Gary continues following up these leaders, providing one-on-one coaching with them and their teams. Early next year we anticipate doing some follow up teaching in this country.