Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister, and today we are pleased to introduce Mang Tiak.
Mang, tell us about your ministry journey.
I believe that my ministry journey started when I was very young as a pastor’s child. My father worked with Baptist missionaries, Dr. Robert Johnson and his wonderful wife, Elizabeth Johnson. My life was transformed by their mission efforts, even though we were expelled by the government when I was very young. In our church, there were two male ministers and one female minister, Rev. Angela Hlawn Tial. She was trained by Elizabeth Johnson. I used to say that I wanted to be a Sunday School teacher like Reverend Angela, who worked so well with my father. She was the first ordained woman clergy in Chin State, Myanmar. During my high school years, under Reverend Angela’s mentorship and leadership, I began to serve as a Sunday School teacher and youth leader in my church.
I could say that both Reverend Angela Hlawn Tial, and I are truly the products of Missionary Elizabeth Johnson, who is still alive in California. She will turn 100 years old in October of this year.
During my years at the University of Rangoon, I continued to serve as Sunday teacher and in the women’s ministry at the Judson Church in Rangoon. Upon completion of my education, Clinical Pastoral Education at Baptist Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas; Master of Theology in Pastoral Care and Counseling at Princeton Theological Seminary; and Doctor of Ministry degree at the Chicago Theological Seminary in conjunction with the Clinical Pastoral Education at the University of Chicago Hospital, my husband and I moved to Houston, Texas. In 2000, I was ordained at the First Baptist Church of Chicago.
From 1999-2014, I served as a senior staff chaplain at the Methodist Hospital Medical Center. I currently serve as a senior staff chaplain at the CHI Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in Houston, Texas.
My husband and I started the Greater Houston Burmese Christian Fellowship Church. In 2005, we organized the church with a small group of people in our home and with a strong vision to reach out to our upper-middle class friends from Burma. However, shortly after we started, many political refugees from Burma arrived in Houston through resettlement agencies. They experienced challenges such as cultural shock, language barriers, health issues, and being unable to worship God in their own language. We both understood the calling of this ministry to be: “Unless we do, who will do?”
We now have more than 300 members in our church. By the grace of God and his faithfulness, my husband and I serve respectively as pastor and associate pastor.
What has brought you the greatest joys in your ministry?
My true passion and joy is ministry with patient and family at the bedside. I love what I do every day as a hospital chaplain, and I believe my ministry is not just a job, but a divine calling of sacred vocation.
My greatest joy in my ministry is when people in crisis experience the unfailing presence of God, love, and compassion through my ministry. I can still recall a wonderful physician who identified herself as a non-Christian. She declined my visit many times, but as I journeyed with her in time of crisis, she began to experience the love of God. She said to me, “Sunshine, today is the last day we shall see each other, but I shall see you in heaven.” She entered into the joy of her Master and Savior. The sound of her voice “I shall see you in heaven,” is still stuck in my heart and clear in my ears. She gave me the greatest joy in my ministry. I am looking forward to seeing her in heaven.
The joy of the Lord overflows in my heart when children run to me with a big smile to hug me, to shake my hand, and to kiss me every time I walk into the Burmese church.
What challenges have you encountered along the way?
One of my greatest challenges is balancing my professional life and personal life. It is still difficult for me to say, “no,” especially to our congregation as I see many needs. I feel accepted by both my congregation and hospital as a female clergy. However, there have been times that I have felt that I was ignored and recognized only as a pastor’s wife, not as a minister myself.
What is the best ministry advice you have received?
The best advice I have received is, “Be yourself!”
Listen to God’s Spirit within, not voices outside.
Take care of yourself first and as completely as you can.