A newsletter for friends of the Global Mission Institute, Luther Seminary

Global Vision - Fall 2013

View more articles in the Fall 2013 issue.
 

International Student Profile

International Student: Pum Za Mang


Pum Za Mang

Pum Za Mang is a third-year PhD student, and  a reminder that our international students serve us as missionaries during their time at Luther Seminary.

Mang, an ordained minister in the Baptist Church, is from Myanmar (formerly Burma), a country that has received recent media attention for the persecution of Muslims by the majority Buddhist population. According to Mang, this upsetting truth is also a reality for Christians in Myanmar who continue to suffer from religious persecution and ethnic genocide.

Somehow, in this setting where participation in a minority religion is dangerous, the Christian church continues to grow. Mang sheds some light on this when he talks about the first Christian missionaries to Burma 200 years ago. "These missionaries suffered a lot," he says, explaining how they faced illness, imprisonment and even the deaths of their spouses and children. Listening to Mang, it is clear that these early missionaries did more than bring Christianity to Burma—they modeled sacrifice.

Mang has also made sacrifices to follow his call to be a Christian leader and a voice for the people of Myanmar, but you won't hear him say this. After being married only two months, Mang left his wife to come to Luther Seminary for further theological training in our Ph.D. program. She has only recently joined him this past August after two years apart. In Mang's opinion, this is little in comparison to what the missionaries were willing to give up.

Perhaps Mang would be more willing to name the courage it takes to be a voice for the voiceless. He has already published two articles about ethnic and religious persecution in Myanmar, with a third under review for publication in the United Kingdom. Bringing international attention to current political issues in his country, he allows his name to be published even if there is a risk to doing so. In the words of Chenar Howard, program and relations coordinator for Luther Seminary's Global Mission Institute, "Mang doesn't shy away from being a prophetic voice."

Mang embarked on a Ph.D. because he knows his community needs strong, educated Christian leaders and he wanted to be equipped to make a difference. He came to Luther Seminary because we were able to offer the financial support he required to do so. He is quick to tell of how his courses and independent studies on Martin Luther King Jr. and Archbishop Oscar Romero have had a profound impact on him.  "I want people to know that I deeply appreciate Luther Seminary," he says. "The Christian Church in Burma has been isolated for decades.  The door is now open and Luther Seminary has stretched its hands out long enough to reach and welcome us."

Pum Za Mang is one of four International students from Myanmar since 2008. Read about Dr. Samuel Ngun Ling a former Visiting Schiotz Professor who helped encourage applications from Burmese students.