Together, we can do so much
LWF president impressed by work in Myanmar
(LWI) - The LWF has proved itself an organization recognised for high quality work and for networking with diverse groups of people, Archbishop Dr Panti Filibus Musa says.
Looking back on his visit to Myanmar, his first international trip to Asia as LWF president, Archbishop Musa was impressed by the esteem with which the churches and World Service, the LWF diaconal arm, are held.
It was inspiring to see that the LWF was not a communion just for itself but was living for the sake of all people, he said. “That was for me what was inspiring. I was also inspired by the people of Myanmar who are not giving up hope of building a stable and democratic society. For the LWF to be there is very significant.”
While it was regrettable that citizens were struggling with the political realities and lack of peace, he was inspired to see the work of the LWF and its member churches.
LWF held in high regard
Archbishop Musa’s itinerary included high level meetings with government officials, partners and faith leaders. From members of the government to internally displaced people, the United Nations to other NGOs, the LWF has an excellent reputation in Myanmar, he said. He described the LWF as a unifying force among the NGOs and other organizations.
“The LWF is able to get connected with all these organizations in a positive way. I received expressions of deep gratitude. Some in government commended the LWF for extending the hand of support also to host communities not only the internally displaced persons and that is what really gives the LWF a good reputation in the eyes of the government and the people of Myanmar.”
The LWF works in camps for internally displaced people in and near Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state, where the reputation of the LWF helped to convene representatives of the UN, international NGOs, local government and the Buddhist community.
“We do not see ourselves as a lone player but part of a network of players, ecumenical and other international NGOs. The LWF is able then to use this respect for ecumenical relations, inter-religious relations and for working across networks.”
Peace is a precursor
President Musa elaborated on the message of peace he conveyed to the people. Without peace, stability was not possible, he said. “Nothing will work. It is not possible to have sustainable democracy, economy, or social livelihoods without peace. There must be peace that is inclusive of all citizens and the various religious groups.”
In the context of religiously grounded nationalism, he was impressed by an LWF staff who said, “I’m a Buddhist, but when I work with the LWF I want to be seen as representing the Buddhists, Muslims, Christians and any others because we are all human.”
Archbishop Musa said the statement confirmed his belief that World Service is not just a technical body but one whose work leads to a sense of transformation in people’s attitudes to one another. “People are not just there because they are employees but uphold the values of the LWF. That is what gave this person the confidence to stand up and say this, because of what the LWF has come to mean for him.”
Message of unity
“In a situation like Myanmar, the message of unity was a very important message throughout the visit. It was one of collaboration and the need to step outside our own boundaries – religious, ethnic and political boundaries - to build peace.”
In a situation like Myanmar, the message of unity was very important. It was one of collaboration and the need to step outside our own boundaries – religious, ethnic and political boundaries - to build peace.
LWF has worked in Myanmar for 10 years through World Service operations. Collaboration among the churches and between the churches and the LWF World Service program was strong, he said. Relations between World Service and the member churches is a good model for the communion. There was no sense of tension or of unrealistic expectation on the side of the church. “They have a clear understanding that we are here as a communion but we are distinctive in our practical operations.”
Archbishop Musa shared in worship with local churches. He said it was a joy to get together for common worship and then sit around the table and encourage that sense of unity among the churches. Each church has different roots, specific ethnic backgrounds and some linguist variations but see themselves as one body
The joy he saw on the faces of the people in worship came from the heart, he said. “We are a church organization, a confessional organization, but not just for ourselves but with and for others. Together we can do so much in the world.”
Musa, who is Archbishop of the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria, was elected president of The Lutheran World Federation at the Twelfth Assembly in Windhoek, Namibia, in May 2017. The visit to Myanmar was his first in office as LWF president.
LWF President visits Myanmar
LWF President visits World Service country program projects in Rakhine state
LWF President Archbishop Dr Panti Filibus Musa was impressed during his visit to Myanmar, by the esteem with which the churches and World Service, the LWF diaconal arm, are held.
Photos: LWF Myanmar