Sung Ju Park
Sung Ju Park of College Station, Texas, is the pastor of a local Korean Presbyterian church there. He is a bivocational minister with expertise in acupuncture, which he uses as a tool for his missional ministry. Before dedicating his life to pastoral ministry, Park held a prominent position as a tax officer for the government in South Korea.
Notes of Gratitude from MIT Students
Greetings in the most precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I have safely reached Rangoon and I am now thinking of leaving for my home.
I fear words are not sufficient to express my heartfelt gratitude to Central Baptist Theological Seminary as a whole for the wonderful benevolent service rendered to me.
I am Thawng Hnin Zam from Matupi, situated in the most western part of Myanmar (Burma), close to Mizoram State of India. It has always been a dream of mine to do quality doctoral study to aid me in teaching the younger generation to develop self-reliance for the future reconstruction of the nation and, even more importantly, for the fuller realization of the Kingdom of God. Sensing that there are more than enough ministers to look after the spiritual aspect of salvation for the congregation, I also see there is yet a desperate need for highly educated or qualified ministers to address the theological, educational, economic, and social aspects of salvation. However, it is beyond the capacity of a humble soul from a poverty-stricken country like Myanmar, where the needs of each and every soul are great and who earn only enough for hand-to-mouth existence, to pursue higher, good and quality education in a country like the United States.
It is at this juncture that Central has come forward to reaching not only me but also Myanmar as a whole through the joint Doctor of Ministry with Myanmar Institute of Theology. I was ecstatic when I received the notification that I had been chosen as one among the twelve for the 2011 DMin cohort. Moreover, I was greatly enthused to have the opportunity to study at Central.
While attending this program on the Central campus, I had a glimpse of life at Central. In all aspects of Central life, such as, class, worship, library, get-togethers, I have sensed the spiritual maturity, which would never be in vain but would bear fruit in the near future. I also enjoyed very much of the American delicious dishes, food from the local churches especially, whose invaluable hospitality indeed is unforgettable.
My sincere thanks to the President for her love and fostering in the midst of my shortcomings and drawbacks. Her patience and endurance helped me to grow in morality. And to the faculty and staff members who cared for me on and off the campus. You lay the ground for academic, moral, and spiritual development. Intelligence is shown, not by witty words, but by your wise action.
I wish I am living there, yet the ministry awaits - the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. “As we express our gratitude,” in the words of John F. Kennedy, “we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
May Central always be a blessing to friends along the way as she shares the joy that is within. May the years ahead be filled with love, hope, and strength to carry on.
LONG LIVE CBTS!
Thank you very much,
Thwang Hnin Zam
Zam arrived safely in Yangon (Rangoon) after the October courses at Central; however, it will likely be many days – perhaps weeks – before he is able to make it home to Matupi. The monsoon season has arrived and several bridges have been destroyed on the way to his home and transportation halted for a month. He wrote that he would wait a week and if at all possible go home by car. If not, he will leave by foot. He wrote, “Keep remembering me in your daily fervent prayer as I do you the same.”
Gratitude and Thanksgiving
Philippians 4:3 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me “
I am an ordinary lay minister serving in the Church of the Province of Myanmar(Anglican) as a Provincial Mothers’ Union Secretary. I have served in the ministry about 19 years, working especially with women’s groups. Through this experience I have received much knowledge of social, cultural, economic and political events. When I look at of my life as a Christian, I have felt God’s protection and guidance in my daily life. God has blessed me. Sometime I faced difficulties in both my work and family, but God always took care for me and liberated me from these situations.
I would like to testify about my personal experiences of God’s blessing in my ministry with women. How has God blessed me? I always listen for the word of God through prayer and reading the Bible regularly. These have shown me the right way to follow my Lord Jesus Christ. I remembered that Deuteronomy 28:1-14 said, “If you obey the Lord your God, all these blessings shall come upon you.” As a human being, no one is perfect, but I try my best to listen to the word of God. My mindset is to do my best for others. When I became the leader of the Church, my concern was the needs of my congregations rather than Church politic. My understanding of leadership is that one who serves people is a servant leader.
After serving in the Ministry for 19 years, I wanted to study higher theological education to learn about church planting. I decided to extend my theological insights with a Doctor of Ministry degree. As a fulltime minister I am always traveling around Myanmar for training, development projects, and regular church activities, so further study seemed impossible. Finally, however, I was able to enroll, and have had a chance to study in the USA at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee, Kansas, as a D.Min. student. Studying systematically has been challenging for me because I mostly work with grassroots women, but I try my best to follow with strength given by God. I never expected I would study in USA, but by the grace of God I have and gained a lot of learning experiences, especially at the encouragement of our professors. First, I felt that I could not go further, but I realized that I can do it because of my Lord who has always encouraged me in my life.
When I stayed in Kansas City, I met with many friends who understood me and empowered me. Learning in a different cultural context made me uncomfortable at times, but I came to know that we have a common ground of love and kindness and understand each other based on our faith. We could not escape or neglect one another because we are Christian brothers and sisters in Christ.
I also met with others from Myanmar who live in the USA and who for many reasons filled my heart with compassion. I encouraged them to be strong in faith and to trust in the will of God so that they can overcome their anxiety. It may be difficult for them but I hope that they will understand what I told them. I brought back to my country their prayer requests that I will pass on to my Church prayer cell group. I believe that God will guide them and do the best for them. As a minister, I pray first and take action after that with God’s guidance. I will continue my fellowship with them and encourage them through communication and regular sharing of information.
God gave me this opportunity to work in partnership with him. Psalm 136 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” I give my thanks to the Lord who is good and always loves me forever.
Yin Yin Maw