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Global Vision - Fall 2012

View more articles in the Fall 2012 issue.

International Student Profile

Students bring faith and family from India to St. Paul

by Christy Hallenbeck, M.Div. Middler

The Jamir family

To listen to Sashinungla (Sashila) and Imliwabang (Imli) Jamir is to hear stories steeped in gratitude, faith and a voracious love for learning.

Those stories include serving and teaching in Thailand among refugees from Burma, specifically the Karen people, and studying in West Bengal and the Philippines. Now the doctoral students' stories have moved from their native Nagaland, a state in northeastern India, to Luther Seminary.

"We were praying to get a quality education in seminary," said Imli, a student of systematic theology who arrived one year before his wife and their two daughters joined him. "With much prayer, we moved here. We know that this is the work of God. It's a miracle."

Before beginning their studies at Luther Seminary, Imli and Sashila taught at the Oriental Theological Seminary in Dimapur, India. Both hold several degrees in divinity and theology, and plan to return to their teaching positions upon completing their doctorates.

New Learning Opportunities

"We are returning home once we finish," said Sashila, who is studying church history. "The simple reason is, we prayed to God to open up quality education so we can serve the people back home."

They have found this quality education at Luther Seminary.

"The professors are so willing to listen to our views and ideas and learn from our context," Sashila said. "They have listening hearts."

A Family of Scholars

The Jamirs have witnessed such two-way communication in the American education system, both at Luther and the elementary school their daughters attend.

"They are learning so much," Sashila said of their daughters. "The teachers try to nurture the gifts that individual students possess."

However, they admit that living in a family of four students is not always easy.

"We understand that our children will be under our care for such a limited time," Imli observes of the pressures of being parents who are also balancing studies and campus work. "But we trust that God will speak to the little ones through our experience."

God is also speaking to them through their marriage, as they share in callings and studies.

"Both of us experience the same pressure," Sashila said. "We can understand and accommodate one another."

"Our strength is having the same overarching goal to serve God," Imli said. "There we agree with one another. That's what matters."

GMI Support

Amidst the pressures of family life and the uncertainties of living in a new country and community, Imli and Sashila express deep gratitude to the Global Mission Institute for easing the transition.

"The first time we arrived, we were so welcomed by the GMI," said Sashila, "and I see the momentum continuing. The GMI acts like a bridge between other cultures and American culture."

"When we're away from family, the GMI acts like family," Imli said. With so many students living far from home and family, the GMI is committed to its core values of hospitality and networking. For the 71 international students on campus this year, the GMI creates a welcoming environment and opportunities for students to connect within their new community.

As Imli and Sashila settle into student family life while looking ahead to returning home, they trust in God's presence and guidance that have brought them safely thus far.

"If it is the Lord's will," Imli said, "the Lord will make the way."