Brethren Archive

A Letter to the Editor of The Witness.

by Major General Harry Chippendale Plunkett Rice

DEAR SIR,—Mr. M____, a brother in fellowship at F____, H____, has been obliged to return temporarily to Rangoon in Burmah, to look after some business there.  He has written to me giving me a description of the Assembly there, which I send you, as I think it may cheer and interest your readers.  He says:—
The English speaking gathering to the name of the Lord, that I left here, has resolved itself into a native gathering, consisting of Telegus and Burmese, with a mixture of mixed races.  I attended the bread-breaking, which was conducted in the following manner.  The assembly consisted of about forty members of both sexes, chiefly Burmese.  They met in a large upper room, the guest-chamber, the best room in the house, set apart specially for the Lord's children to meet Him. The hour of meeting is 7 p.m.  The European dressed members sat together at one end, and the Burmese reclined on the mat which covered the entire room, where was a table about four feet long, two feet broad, and eighteen inches high, on which was placed a plate and loaf of bread, and a covered metal cup containing the wine.  There are pillars which mark off a verandah inside the outer walls, and nominally divide the guest-chamber.  The members are all waiting the hour and greeting each other lovingly.  The clock strikes, and everyone finds his or her place reverently, the sisters covering their heads with silk cloths or kerchiefs, having walked from their homes uncovered.  The brothers are all uncovered.  The slippers of all the natives are left on the first landing from the street, hence they are reclining round the table barefooted.  Immediately a hymn of praise and thanksgiving, in musical and powerful strains, fills the room, and can be heard at a distance through the open windows.  This strain was quite spontaneous, not a word having been spoken, and, when it was ended, a hymn was given out by an Armenian, who is the nominal leader, and to whom the house belongs, and who bears all the expenses, though I know him to be comparatively poor of this world's wealth, but rich in faith.  Prayer and thanksgiving followed the hymn.  The senior Burmese brethren sat near the table.  One took the bread, laid the plate on the ground, broke a piece from the loaf, put it in his mouth (not a crumb), and passed the plate round to his next brother, and so on till all the floor had partaken, then the mixed races, who sat in the chairs, partook.  Another of the senior brethren took the cup, drank thereof, and passed it round till all had partaken.  Prayer was then made in English and Burmese, and another hymn of praise.  The Armenian then gave an exhortation on ‘Believing and Doing the Lord's Will’.  This discourse was spoken in slow, but emphatic, short sentences in English, and interpreted into Burmese by a Burman Judge in the Small Cause Court, in slow and impressive language, and was received reverently by the assembly.  This was tedious work, and tired one's patience, but every word was intended to find lodgment in the heart, and often repetition had to be resorted to.  The truth was enforced without consulting feeling or prejudice.  Faithfulness to the Lord and His Word is strictly adhered to.  Nothing is admitted or taken for granted.  Every sentence is proved by reference to Scripture.  In short, everything is done in accordance with I Cor. xi. xiv., and simplicity and simple truth are inculcated, and the shadow of anything doubtful will not be tolerated. They do not try to enlarge the gathering; they want a real, pure assembly, and believe that the Lord, and He only, can add to the Church.  They desire also to avoid the introduction of difficult questions.  The better instructed, desire to teach simple faith in the atonement, which finished the work of our solvation, and to live the life of truly redeemed saints.  They teach clearly that as soon as the eye is removed from Christ, they cease to walk by faith, and man falls.  It is beautiful to look upon them now in their primitive and child-like obedience to the Word.  I noticed several young sisters (Burmese) with tablets taking notes when the exhortation was being enforced.  Would that the assemblies in Europe had the simplicity and beautiful faith displayed by those I saw.—I am,  dear sir, yours faithfully in the Lord.
Felixstowe, 7th Nov. 1894.  H. C. P. R.
”The Witness” 1894

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