Lal Ruat Kimi understands the need of education for women and is involved in teaching theology. She has devoted her whole life to Tahan Theological College (TTC) as a teaching staff resulting in her not being able to live with her family who have settled in Mizoram.
There is a time for joy and happiness, but also moments of sadness and challenges that every human encounters. Each of us encounters happiness or sadness uniquely different from others. Hence, the challenges which I have encountered in my life may seem small for some. However, they have helped me to be more persevering and courageous throughout my life.
Surely, as a human, I face joyful and miserable moments as well as great challenges. These can be taken in a cheerful spirit. Nevertheless, one’s sharing of their hard times can bring motivation and good learning for others. Thus, I have written down the paths I have trod, as well as moments and events that happened to me.
Road to Education
Everyone has aims and goals like me. During my matriculation, I used to attend classes regularly. However, I did not think I would pass my examination because of my bad health. I completed my exam and waited for the results. On the day our exam results came out, people rushed to see whether or not they passed. However, I stayed home as I could not fathom myself passing the exam. I remember the year was 1998 when only a few could afford to ride a motorcycle. My aunt came up riding her new bicycle from the lower street of our village and told me I passed the exam! It really shocked me as I did not have any hope – my pass marks were fairly low indeed. I could not believe it at once because I never thought that I could pass. I will never forget that day when my dream became a reality especially after I had almost given up. Then, I started to pick up another dream to spend my college student life studying a B.A programme.
With great expectations and big hopes in my mind, I prepared for college. Just like many youths of that time, I was eager to be a college student because then, I would be able to spend my leisure time having fun with friends. To enjoy college life with little effort put into studying was one of the reasons why I was so enthusiastic to enroll in college. However, my intentions were altered.
My father is an ordained Presbyterian elder. It would not be wrong to label him as a hardcore Presbyterian who already had my future all planned out. My father told me, “Mapui, you will not be able to attend secular college. You better join a Bible College first and you can continue with your B.A in a distance learning education programme while studying in your Bible College.” My sulky face would have been very ugly at that time as I expressed my displeasure towards studying theology. I clearly realise now how difficult it was to disobey an ordained elder back then. Being totally uninterested, I declined to fill up my admission forms for a while even though my father had done the necessary. “Anyway, I will join the B.A in distance learning while studying in Bible college,” I relented. So, I enrolled into Tahan Theological College in 1999. To my surprise, the College did not allow two simultaneous tracks of studies like I intended. What I dreamt of and what I was facing were complete opposites. I fainted. With little hope I went on to study at TTC, which was not an easy task. With the intention in mind to join the B.A program after this College, I proceeded with my theological study step by step with a great anticipation of the end of the study. Finally, I completed my theological study and I was still hoping to enter a university. However, I could not join a B.A programme due to certain interruptions.
After graduating from TTC, I worked as a teacher at Tahan Vengchhak Presbyterian nursery. I never lost track of my aim to study a B.A. My father urged me to continue to study a Master of Divinity programme and as a result I went down to Yangon. There, I attended tuition classes. I sat for the entrance examination at Myanmar Institute of Theology with my friend Ma Chhuangi. When the result out, I was not in the list of candidates who passed but Ma Chhuangi was. My friends tried to comfort me by saying that I would be successful next time. I thought to myself, “Never!” It might well have been my happiest day! I was joyful in my mind because I still assumed that I would be able to join a secular university where I expected to live a most fantastic and blissful university life.
Then, something strange happened inside me. Since I failed my M. Div. entrance exam, I started to feel an intense longing that made me decide to sit for the entrance exam one more time. It was difficult for our household to afford to get me to Yangon a second time. With the assistance of my friend in Yangon who sponsored my tuition fee, I once again travelled to Yangon. At the second attempt of my entrance exam, I managed to put myself up into the name list of eligible candidates for the M. Div. However, there were some challenges – I could barely settle my school fees and I was also troubled about other expenses beyond the tuition fees. Often, I only had 200 Kyats in hand for a day! We usually attended worship in Presbyterian Church at downtown Yangon on Sunday. I recall that the church did very well by giving the congregation bus fare every Sunday. On the way back to Insein (my Institute) after church service, the smell from the road side snack shops made me hungry. It was very hard as I had no money to buy it most of the time. On many occasions, I was displeased and blamed God for this.
Sometimes, I heard about some of my classmates received sponsorships of fifteen hundred thousand Kyats sent by their relatives staying in the United States and I was so envious of them. Truly, they were so enviable from my pitiful point of view. There was a time I will never forget when our church leader Rev. Lalhruaivela visited us in our Institute. He led us into a restaurant and told us that we could order any of our favourite food. It was such a wonderful and encouraging time! Such precious memories of our church ministers paying a visit to us will never fade away in my mind. By God’s grace, I finished my Master of Divinity study at last without any disgrace.
After completing the M. Div, there was only one thing on my mind. That was my lifelong desire to attend the B.A programme. Although I had dedicated myself for ministry, I could not find any occupation so I went down to live with my parents in Mizoram, India. Marvelously, our cousins living at Yangon begged me to stay with them as they were about to give birth to a baby. So, I once again returned to Yangon and there I prayed to God to give me a chance to study the B.A programme. God did not neglect my prayer. I received an invitation from the Tahan Theological College faculty to teach there. However, I did not know how to respond then. I consulted my parents and my father advised me not to join the faculty as the salary was very low. He instead urged me to stay on with them.
Nevertheless, I did not see it right to decline the call. I recalled my prayer to God that I would offer my life, skill and knowledge to serve in ministry. Finally, I made up my mind that I could not reject God’s calling and so decided to join the TTC faculty. While teaching at TTC, I enrolled in a B.A Distance Education Programme. That year, unfortunately, the University extended the study period from three years to four years. After attending for two years, I paused my B.A studies as I was admitted to APGS, Hanil University, Jeonju, S. Korea to pursue their Master of Theology programme. So, I left my B.A and flew to Korea to begin my M. Th. study. I said to myself that it would be sufficient if I could finish this M. Th. programme well because this was my desired end-goal in both secular and theology study programmes. I wanted nothing more than these.
My M. Th. study while being a one-year course was a demanding and tough time for me. Even so, I managed to finish the programme, not because I am bright and capable but because of God’s grace in which I put my trust in and prayed without ceasing. During my research, I almost quit and left the course several times because of certain irreconcilable outbursts between me and my supervisor. We hardly had any agreement at all. However, due to the great impact made on me from the manner and teaching of one of my professors, I managed to persevere and to keep studying. I cannot forget my professor’s exemplary treatment towards me in teaching me lessons and nourishing me with God’s words simultaneously. She was converted from being a Buddhist to Christian after becoming an adult. Regarding faith, it could naturally be said that she would not have a firm and mature belief. In contrast, she was living out her faith in her everyday life and I was overwhelmed by her faith journey. Meanwhile, I learnt from her manner and example. Without her, I would not have completed my Master of Theology study.
When a believer prays without ceasing and asks for something, God fulfills the request in their life. On 25 March 2018, my request and dream which I have been asking God for was also fulfilled as I graduated with a B.A degree. Praise the Lord! I fully understand that what I am today is neither because of my ability nor my strength but only by the grace of God. I also figured out that I can go through times of despair, as long as I put my trust in the Lord. Besides, I am very well aware that God answers my unceasing prayers. At times, I would head to school for my examinations without any prior studying but asked God for help at the examination room by praying that I pass the exam – I now know such a prayer may never be answered. This is not the way God’s power works in a believer’s life. Rather, God blesses our laborious and diligent toiling. This is what I clearly experienced in my own life.
I obviously know that I am a weak human being. However, all the adversities I have faced in my life has led me to see the face of God. Nothing is impossible in this world with God. The composer’s words, “He knows all my ways”, has guided my life all along. It is so vital not to run away from our problems but to face it and move forward no matter how hard it might be. Let the proverb, “try and try again”, be our guiding principle. Instead of lamenting about our own weakness and saying we are unable to change or become like someone else, we should instead say, “God, use my little and limited ability”. Submitting to God is the most important thing in serving in ministry. We may come across many problems in our ministry but we should not be afraid or run away. Rather, we must keep on trying and continue serving since our small ability may become an effective instrument God can use.
This article was published in the April 2020 issue of INSiGHT. For more articles, please visit https://archive.cwmission.org/insight/