In my first week as president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, I quickly realized that there are stories from the Central community that need to be heard—not heard just by me but by all who love and are committed to the seminary. To share those stories with you, I will “interview” students, alums, faculty, staff, board members, and supporters, and each week will share an interview with you on this new blog titled THIS IS CENTRAL. I look forward to getting to know this community, and I invite you to join me on the journey.
My first interview is with Nay Tar Mu, a current Doctor of Ministry student at Central.
PD: Tell me a bit about your Central origin story. How did you come to be a student at Central? What led you to Central?
NTM: I was a teacher in Kawthoolei Karen Baptist Bible School and College in the Mae La refugee camp. We offered the Karen Program and a Bachelor of Theology (B.Th.). Starting in 2017, the school was upgraded to a Master of Divinity program. We needed more teachers. In 2018, my friend, Tansy, and her ministry group from Arizona came to the refugee camp and saw the lack of leadership skills in our school. As she returned to the United States, she tried to find ways for me to relocate in the U.S. and equip myself to teach in the M.Div. program. She thought Central would be the best place for me. So here I am, pursuing my study in the Doctor of Ministry program, which I started in 2019.
PD: Tell me about your call story—how has God been at work in your life, calling you to ministry and service?
NTM: As someone who grew up in a very difficult situation, I have always tasted the goodness of God even in the midst of deaths and war. I was born in one of the remote areas of Myanmar. After I passed the tenth grade, I strongly felt the call of God, and I wanted to equip myself to serve the Lord. I felt like God was speaking to me to be a channel of blessings for my people.
I left my family and moved to Thailand to the Mae La Refugee Camp in order to study for my Bachelor of Theology degree. After I received my degree, I went to India for Master of Divinity studies at Oriental Theological Seminary. The ultimate purpose for all my studies was to help my people. We needed teachers who qualify to teach B.Th program. I returned to Thailand and taught for two years, and now that the school is upgrading to a Master of Divinity degree, we needed teachers who were qualified to teach at the master's level.
I really have a heart for my people, and it has always been my dream to help them. Since we are the minority group in Myanmar (Burma), we have been persecuted by the Burmese military both physically and spiritually. Many people were killed, and churches were burned down. One of the main reason our Karen people are oppressed is because they lack education. Only with a good education will we be able to cope with an uncertain future. I want our people to know the importance and value of pursuing education. I want to give hope and light to our people, and that is why I am pursuing my D.Min. studies. I have had the help of so many people in this pursuit, and my goal is to go back and help our people.
PD: What have been the best resources and experiences you have had in your time at Central?
NTM: I come from a community where a hierarchical way of leadership is strongly practiced. Mostly older leaders have a say, but the younger ones do not. Almost all the churches are traditional Baptist churches that are not open to any new ideas and practices. Therefore, we see the tension between the young and the old ones. In my classes at Central, I have learned to develop my leadership skills and ideas, but most importantly, I have learned to build up my confidence to stand up and speak out when it is necessary. With the help, support, teachings, and encouragement from my professors and friends, I feel like I am becoming more mature, and I am strong enough to face the challenges ahead of me.
PD: As you look ahead, what are your hopes with regard to ministry and service? Where is the Spirit leading you?
NTM: I will be going back to Thailand-Burma border to the Mae La refugee camp to serve our community after I graduate. I want to equip and prepare our younger generation with the knowledge that I am gaining from Central and send my students out into different places. It will help our people along the border, those living internally in displaced areas, and even those in Myanmar.