I live in Lailenpi village, Matupi Township,
Chin state, Myanmar. I belong to Mara Evangelical Church (MEC).
I used to pray to be a priest from my
childhood, because there was no woman priest.
My question was why can a woman not be a priest while
Jesus's mother was a woman? I had to find the way to
become a woman priest to prove that women are holy priests of God
as men are. The second reason was that if I were a priest, I would
be able to work for the Mara people all my life.
The third reason was that my illiterate mother always
urged all her children, saying: "I serve God without
education, and you have to serve with education to fill all the
gaps I have."
I became the first ordained, married woman
pastor in the 99 years of the Mara Evangelical Church.
Our Church is everything to the Mara community,
because of its extraordinary remoteness in every way.
Politically, the Mara community is divided
between Mizoram state in India and Chin state in Myanmar. Even in
Chin state, the Mara community is divided by three different
townships. Today the Mara people have no town. We are extremely
remote, with a lack of transportation, community facilities,
electricity, and information. We do not hear or see what is
happening in Myanmar, let alone around the world.
My basic belief is that men and women are two wings of
the same bird, and women need to be empowered as much as
men. This is why I founded the Rural Women Empowerment Program
(RWEP). The main contribution the RWEP makes is the conceptual
change about the importance of women. Every human is closer to
mother than father, and every human stays with mother longer than
with father in childhood. Therefore women have more opportunity to
influence the philosophy and theology of a child.
A woman can do whatever any human can do, but
it is wiser to do what is more important. In our Family Development
Committee, we focus on teaching life skills that can provide an
income for the family, such as weaving. We also set up self-help
groups, which meet weekly to support and strengthen the women.
When I grew up, we always had extra people
living with us. These childhood experiences deeply convinced me
that no one is born out of choice: they are born according to God's
choice, and they are God's special children. Therefore I call them
"Differently Abled Friends". I want them to feel God's love through
us; I want them to taste the atmosphere of heaven in earth. I
really would like childless parents to feel we are one family of
I set up the Shalom Unit in 2007 to help the
Differently Abled Friends and Old Aged Childless People. My
mother's citation in our kitchen in our childhood was "You have to
be a child to a childless parent," and"If you have eyesight, you
have to use it for you and for the blind. If you are healthy, then
you have to use your health both for you and for the
When I studied theology, I learnt about the
importance of the environment and a sustainable livelihood. My
people are slash-and-burn farmers, and I started re-reading the
Bible where it talks about humans tilling and keeping the land. But
my people told me: "We have no option for survival except cutting
and burning the forest for cultivation."
Together, we decided to construct a road and a
bridge, so we could import goods and skills to the land
and maintain and protect our environment. Now we could start
growing a cash crop with sustainable agriculture. My main priority
is to help people to understand more about caring for the
It was not accepted at first. If we served them
with hand-outs it was easy; but if we said: "You are the most
important person for your self-development and the best agents of
change," then it was difficult to get their attention and
attendance at meetings.
The Tearfund Inspired Individuals programme has become a
great supporter for my personal and work achievements.
Kurt Herrera, a German minister, supports me to sustain my vision,
and has initiated many friendships and partnerships in Germany
since 2003. Some of my Church's leaders and my colleagues are very
encouraging and supportive in my endeavours. By God's grace every
year, my spiritual and material supporters are increasing from the
local, national, and international community.
Every member of my family is supportive about my life
and work. My husband is my best adviser and supporter, to
whom I often say: "I will give you Best Husband Award."
My childhood ambitions were to make sure my name was
enrolled in heaven's record, to comfort orphans and
widows, to make smile the physically handicapped, and to make happy
childless parents in their old age.
It was not easy to train to be a priest. My
parents were farmers. We had only rice, no cash. Whenever I had to
pay cash for school fees, I used to take rice to the schoolteachers
to exchange for the fees. When they said they had enough rice, I
used to clean their campus, fetch water, and collect firewood for
Up to fourth standard [aged 9-10], I used a
half-broken slate, and from fifth standard only could I use books.
For my eighth-standard promotion exam [to get to high school, aged
14] set by Chin State Education Board, I had to go to Matupi town,
which was four days on foot.
It was the most hungry time in my life in
Matupi, because that was the first time I ate only twice a
day. For my ninth and tenth standard, my sister-in-law could afford
only 21kg of rice per month at the rate charged in Matupi. Twice a
month, I hadto go two days on foot to buy riceat a cheaper rate, to
earn cashfor kerosene, a ball-point pen, and soap.
For my university study, I travelled 17 days on
foot from Sabawngpi, my native village to Kamaphyu, and then
half-a-day to reach Pakokku Degree College. After I matriculated, I
suffered a lot from an evil spirit's attack, and I was often in
For my theological study, I applied to be an
MEC candidate, but was not approved, because of my recurrent
sickness. Therefore I started my journey to study theology as a
private candidate to Chennai in India [formerly Madras] without
money, without English, and without friends.
The Holy Spirit was my guide, my sponsor, my
professor, my friend, my counsellor, my all in all throughout my
six years' theological study. The hardships I faced during my
education have prepared me to face the many difficulties I
I do not wish to be remembered. I wish
everybody will remember God's phone number: Jeremiah 33.3, and
Jesus's phone number: Matthew 7.7.
My mother and my eldest brother influenced my life a
lot, especially in positive thinking, and having a
thankful heart. My father influenced my hard working.
My favourite place is my home, or wherever I
can live with my family.
I love Aung San Suu Kyi's Hundred Words
St Paul's epistles are my favourite part of the
Bible, because of their focus on love, strong faith,
impartiality, and doing all works for the glory of God. I read
least the Song of Songs.
My favourite sound is carol-singing in the
midnight before Christmas.
I continue to get angry when people are still
living in poverty despite the earth having enough resources to
sustain us all.
Whenever I see a family who have a good faith in
God, love one another, and serve others with sincere
heart, I feel I achieve my prayer and commitment to them, and they
will go beyond my prayer. This brings me the happiest moments.
I mostly pray that my family and I will be agents of
God, to do good for others. And that God will forgive the
sins of the global family, and revive the Christian community.
I would like to pray in a church for a few hours with my
The Revd Mai Ki was talking to Terence Handley