Halloween party ideas 2015

Dr Lal Dena By Prof Dr Lal Dena, Manipur University

Can two strangers, born and brought up in different countries with different backgrounds, become bosom friends? Emphatically YES, because this did actually happen to me and David Tongkhoyang Haokip. The story our meeting, that too in foreign capital, is stranger than fiction.

When I was in Seoul in 1997 as a fellow of Korea Foundation, David came to know my stay there at the University of Yonsei, Seoul, through some theological students who studied at the Asian Centre for Theological Studies (ACTS), South Korea. We introduced ourselves to each other on phone and then planned a secret rendezvous at one underground rail station.

We met on the appointed day. I was with my wife. Perhaps that was our first meeting face to face. We then entered the nearby cafeteria and our confabulation got started in a friendly atmosphere. After an hour’s journey by green tube (underground train) we reached his place. No matter whether the room was properly ventilated or not, it was the warm heart of the host which mattered most. We had our tribal dish of our own choice and preparation. How refreshed we were!

Having got the call of God to become a full time priest, David Haokip. born and brought up in Myanmar, started his theological training since June, 1979 to 1983 at the Holy Cross Theological College, Yangon; got B. Th from Serampore Theological College, Kolkata and M. Div from Madras Bible Seminary. David got ordination as priest on 10 November, 1985. But military rule in Myanmar resulted in mass exodus of Burmese nationals throughout Asia and even in Western countries. David and his family had to escape to Manipur, India in 1993. In Manipur alone, there were more than 20,000 Burmese migrants mostly labourers, students and business people. Because of his gift of being able to speak several languages, particularly Burmese, David began to join the Myanmar Democratic Movement and became president of the Burma League for Human Rights. Belonging to the Kuki ethnic group in Myanmar, he also founded the Kuki Students’ Democratic Front, Myanmar.

With the support of local churches, David began a Burmese Fellowship at Imphal. Deeply impressed by his organizing capacity and his unflinching commitment to God, a South Korean missionary who came to India, invited David to pastor the Burmese community in Seoul. In 1996, David started his ministry among the labourer community in South Korea. It was during his ministry in Seoul in 1997 that my friendship with David began to grow and I and my wife used to go to his place almost every weekend. On his invitation, I even had a chance to share my testimony with his congregation on one Sunday service. But Korea and other Asian countries began to reel under severe economic depression; as a result, many Burmese labourers began to lose their jobs and had to return to Burma. David too had to leave Korea, knowing not where to go. It was indeed a real test of his faith in God.

God had a greater plan in David Haokip. David got selected for study at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity. Mrs Tinnu and the two eldest children joined him in October, 1998. In London, David came across four Burmese Buddhist monasteries, but no Burmese Church. With the support of some friends, David began to establish the Myanmar Christian Fellowship from 1998 onwards. After my return trip from Wales in October, 1998, David invited me to their place at Croydon, South London. David and Tinnu and their two children received me at the Waterloo Station. After having something at the café in the station, we took a local train to Croydon. By that time David’s family was attached to one family Mr and Mrs Deas who were from Burma and there was no place for a guest. I asked myself, “Why does Pu Haokip invite me? I cursed myself for having accepted his invitation. After dinner, David, like the Good Samaritan, put me at one nearby motel ‘telling the manager that he would pay all the bills the next day’. What a friend I have in David!

The next whole day we roamed about at some parts of London, chatting and sometimes eating at café. The evening drew nearer, we had to part. David told me that he had a ‘night duty’ that night. What kind of ‘night duty’ I would not disclose. Because living in London is so costly that my friend has to do odd jobs to make both ends meet. I felt so sad for him but sadder was I when I said to David “Damselin, Mangpha, (May you live long, Goodbye)” before living for France by Eurotrain in the same evening.

Come what may, David never loses sight of his Biblical study. In fact, with his sound theological standing, David does combine in himself true discipleship and scholarship. He became Team Vicar of St Mathew’s Church, Newton in Southampton in 2000 till 2005. After this, he was appointed as Vicar of St George and Ethelbert Parish, East Ham from July 2005. In the same year, the London College of Business and Theological Studies had awarded the degree of Doctor of Divinity to him in recognition of his commitment and faithful ministry over the past 25 years. What an achievement!

David Haokip is a true servant of God. He is a man full of milk of human kindness. He is so humble, kind-hearted, loving, soft-spoken and ever-smiling. Right from the day he dedicated his life to his Master, as far as I know, David has been living to serve the poor and the needy in Homalin, Yangon, Manipur, Seoul, Southampton and London. Like his Master, he is born to serve, not to be served. In fact, there is no job which is too low for him. While having been pastoring the Burmese migrant labourers in Seoul also, David told me that he had to do all kinds of menial jobs to supplement his meager salary.

Last time when David came to Manipur I had a quiet time with him and his beautiful sister, Esther Haokip at my quarter at the Manipur University, Imphal. David whispered into my ear, saying with all humility that “he has now become a full time Minister of the Church of England and is entitled to all rights and privileges which the English middle class enjoy!.” I replied, “Pu Haokip. Your God is a Living God. You are what you have become today only by the grace of God”. By the beginning of the 19th century ago, the British and Welsh missionaries came to preach the Message of Gospel to the Asian people. The time has now come for the Asian Christian priests to reciprocate the selfless sacrifices for which many of the Christian missionaries had either spent the best part of their lives or even sacrificed their precious lives. Reverend Dr David Tongkhoyam has now been pastoring the white people who once ruled over us. Is it not wonderful? May the Good God continue to bless his ministry.

(10th Jan. 2011)

Post a Comment

Comments not related to the news or article may be deleted.

Powered by Blogger.