The 8th commencement of Karenni Baptist Association Bible School was held on 8th March, 2014 at the school premise. The theme for the graduation exercise is based from the book of Isaiah 60: 1 “Arise, shine, for your light has come…” Several Reverends, Pastors, church elders, parents, relatives etc. from Myanmar and from different refugee camps attended the program to honor and bless the graduating students on the occasion.
This year, 21 students received the degree of Licentiate of Theology and very soon some of them will go back to their villages (Myanmar) and some to the refugee camps (Thailand) as Pastors, Evangelist, Youth Pastors, Sunday school teachers etc. The Bible school is sending two students to Nagaland (India) to pursue higher theological studies, so that one day they will come back and teach in Karenni Bible School and make disciples.
Time passes by so quickly, as I reflect back about the present graduated students how we spent four our years together and which makes me happy and sad at the same time. Why happy? It was their first year in Karreni Bible School and it was also my first year too. Let me share in brief how exciting and mind blowing in knowing the conditions of my students sharing their experiences, during their journey from Myanmar to Thailand crossing through the mountainous terrains, rivers etc. Their parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, Aunts, etc, gave them food supply to reach Thailand in knowing that it’s not an easy journey. On their journey if the situation is/are bad and becomes dangerous to travel further then they had to hide in the jungle/caves etc fearing that the Burmese military will shoot them. Anyhow, on reaching Thailand they are all in a wondering state, as we all are new to each other’s, but by looking at their innocent faces it seems to me that they want to ask something or have problems.
On one occasion while we were having dinner (the recently graduates in their first year) are constantly staring at me so I inquired and what I came to know is that they want to share their food with me whom their loves one back at home gave it them for their journey to Thailand, and they want me to try it but they hesitates and reluctant to approach me, thinking that I being a foreigner will not like their homemade foods. I taste a little bit and I like it so much that I asked for more! Their smiles, their innocent faces and their bright eyes I can never forget. One of the most interesting thing I learn from the Karenni people is, they are very generous and hospitable, the little things that they have will be shared. The fun we had and laughter’s we shared will always be cherished.
The sad part is, they are leaving the school and I might not see them again but on the other hand I am proud that they will be the light bearer of the Gospel in Myanmar.
Let me highlights more about the present graduated students in order to let you know more about the Karenni students and situations and to have a closer relationship with the Karenni people as a whole. Our first year was not easy, language barrier for them (English) and me (Karenni) not only about the language but practically in the past they had faced what is hardship. Poverty, they know what is hunger, experienced fear (their village can be attacked any moment by the Burmese soldiers) and therefore they are being traumatized. At times even in the class room some of them will just stare at the wall and tears roll down and I do not know what they are thinking or what to say. Whether those tears are happy tears or sad tears all I can do at that moment is pray to God for that students to give strength and happiness.
In our four years journey we have built a very close relationships and therefore they address me as daddy. I am proud that they call me dad, though I am not yet married but to them as they say, they feel secure when they address me as daddy knowing that their dad will always be there for them no matter what the circumstances and they can freely share their problems with me. So today I am a happy unmarried father with 68 children. In the gradual process they had released their burdens to God, forgiving their enemies who tortured them, rape their people, killed their love ones, burned their food (Granaries) etc. Today, they are ready to go into the battlefield with brighter perspectives, stronger, bolder and above all with the love of God to share the Gospel to those who gave them nightmares.
Long live Karenni Bible School.
Jesus said I came to serve and not to be served. The Pastors and teachers washing the feet of the graduating students.
Tharamu Baw Shar, the pioneer of Karenni Bible School giving me the privileged to honor the graduating students with their Karenni respected necklace.
Posing for lens with the graduating students and current teachers and former English teacher Christine Marie Sian and visiting teacher Yoshiya.
Rev. Dr. Shay Kwe a truly God’s servant with a humble heart, delivering speech on the graduation ceremony.
Myself, confirming the degree of Licentiate of Theology to the students.
Christine Marie Sian, former English teacher presenting gifts to the students. (Christine is the students favorite English teacher, because of her contributions the students speaks good English. Towards her students she is like a mother to the motherless, a sister to the sister-less and a friend to the friendless).
The graduating students praising God through message in song “A Place in the Valley”
Post graduation, teachers and students of 2014.
Boys and girls behind the scene for the successful graduation, cooking for around 400 people. A big thank you and God bless you all.
Together in Christ