We all dream about being part of something beyond ourselves. One of the joys of serving God in His Kingdom, is knowing that as we do play our part – however seemingly small – He is able to take that and multiply it far beyond what we could ever do on our own. We are very excited to share in this story how God lines up the right person, in the right place, at the right time. On this occasion, for a turn-key change in the church Myanmar.
You may know of Anna Sui Hluan, from Yangon, Myanmar. She was a doctoral student at Otago University in Dunedin until 2016, and is now a senior faculty member at MEGST (Myanmar Evangelical Graduate School of Theology).
Growing up in a Christian home, as a child Anna came to know Jesus as her Saviour. Her parents were in ministry, and after completing high school, Anna went to the USA to study biblical languages, where she came into a much stronger experience of her faith. Returning to Myanmar, she became a part-time teacher at MEGST, and discovered a growing passion for her country and seeing its people come to follow Jesus.
“I have never felt tempted to remain in the USA or New Zealand. God has put a call in my heart for my people – so much so that when I was overseas, and heard a story from Myanmar, tears would pour down my face. I had a very, very strong urge to come back,” says Anna.
Anna worked on her doctorate from 2011 to 2016, and is now a lecturer. As an outstanding translator and linguist, she looked at how the biblical translation done in 1823 into Burmese, has quite naturally helped to form the theological understanding of the nation’s Christians. Her research discovered some flaws which have had a negative impact on how women see themselves and their service before God. There are further prevailing influences: Myanmar is a nation with a long and violent history of domination. It is also a nation where Buddhism is the dominant religion, thereby creating a norm which strongly opposes women saying or doing very much within a faith context.
“I want to show women that the Bible is not restrictive, that God is not restrictive. That he loves women and has a place for their ministry in his church.”
At MEGST, about half of all students are women, so Anna is an important role model and mentor. Through her work every few years, she is raising up other leaders; ‘multiplying radical disciples’ in the church in Myanmar, where it is now no longer illegal to be a follower of Jesus.
“I have a privileged and unique position because of my theological training. But I don’t think that opportunity to minister should only be for the privileged. I want to see more women involved in the church.”
Aung Mang, Chair of MEGST recommends Anna highly:
“We are so glad Anna is back here at MEGST. Anna is a much needed influence on other Christian women, and an outstanding Bible teacher. Her research is helping us to develop a body of knowledge, pertinent to our people, history, language, and culture, and the equipping of servant leaders in the church here.”
Many generous Kiwis contributed to Anna’s study scholarship.
“I am really glad to have now completed my PhD and be back in ministry at MEGST. My heart is in ministry – it is my desire and heartbeat.”