ABHMS plays role in God’s plan begun more than a century ago


Chin and family at graduation

When Sang Fen became a pastor in the Chin state of Burma more than a century ago, neither he nor the American Baptist missionaries that inspired him could have known that God’s plan would come full circle in 21st-century America with Sang Fen’s grandson, Chan Hnin Thui. American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS)—related denominationally to the very same missionaries who inspired his grandfather—recently awarded Thui a scholarship that he credits with helping him to earn a graduate ministerial degree in the United States.

Full-time youth minister at Dallas (Texas) Chin Baptist Church, Thui, 34, graduated in May 2014 with a Master of Divinity degree from Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas. ABHMS had awarded him a $4,000 scholarship from the International Baptist Seminary Scholarship Fund for the 2012-2013 academic year.

“ABHMS may not know the impact of the money that they donated to me. It is making a difference in the lives of people,” Thui says. “I always felt that when you get help from folks at ABHMS, it’s always special because of the long-standing connection between the people of Burma and American Baptists.”

Thui was born into an American Baptist family in Burma’s Zokhua Village. His grandfather, he says, became a pastor after American Baptist missionaries arrived at the village in 1899.

“My grandfather changed the lives of many people forever,” says Thui. “I have dedicated my life to following in his footsteps by serving God in the country where our missionaries are from.”

In 2000, when he was 20, Thui followed his parents to the United States. Online, Thui met Chin, the woman who would become his wife. Chin came to the United States from Malaysia in 2010, and the couple married in 2011. Today they live in Garland, Texas, with their 2-year-old old son, Bik Bik.

Thui plans to begin pursuing a doctoral degree at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, Calif., in fall 2015. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2006.

The most satisfying part of his ministry, he says, is welcoming, connecting and comforting newcomers to the United States through God’s word.

“A lot of our folks don’t speak the language, they don’t know the culture, and it’s a new country. So you can imagine how disconnected they feel,” he says. “But when I preach and let them know that God is always with us—no matter the situation—that is, of course, encouragement for them. If they know that God is with them, that’s pretty much it.”

ABHMS supports immigrants and refugees through its Office of Immigration and Refugee Services. In addition, ABHMS provides continuing education scholarships to American Baptists.