Life Story: Nyein
Nyein and Sharon have lived in High Point a couple of years. Sharon’s sister, a more recent arrival, Susana lives with them. Sharon and Susanna are the daughters of a refuge camp preacher.
Nyein was born the son of an Oxford trained medical doctor who was Buddhist. His mother was a strong Christian. So he attended both Sunday School and temple growing up.
In High school his class was studying the human body and how it was made, he decided there must be an “owner” of such a creation. That’s when he came to faith in God. Soon he was baptized.
While attend a technical college, Nyein participated in a peaceful demonstration before the junta government seeking democracy and human rights for Myanmar (Burma). But they broke down the demonstration by firing guns. Some of the students were arrested , detained and tortured in several jails. Nyein fled to the Thai/Burma border joining a robust band of dissidents.
He became a freedom fighter for human rights in Burma. Once his band of brothers stopped in an abandoned village. While resting in an empty home he saw words stenciled on the wall and thought it might be Scripture. He memorized the reference, even though he couldn’t read the language and asked a friend about it later. He was told it was Matthew 6:33, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” Since Bibles in his language, Poe Karen were hard to find that was an important Scripture which he memorized.
He faced his cousin on the battlefield. His cousin had been drafted by the Burmese military and then put into battle hyped up on amphetamines. His cousin didn’t care about life or anything. Although he did not kill his cousin, in that battle his cousin died along with 150 other Burmese. Nyein decided this was the wrong way to win rights for his people, he decided to leave the killing fields. While the freedom fighters were retreating they were being shelled by range rockets (about 4 feet long). Nyein was running through a field looking for cover and hearing the missles whistling toward the earth. It was the rainy season so progress was hampered and then a missle hit the dirt 3 feet from Nyein. He was in shock, and felt his whole side was wet. But then he saw the missle had not exploded and he had been splattered iwth mud. Still fleeing the shelling when they returned to their camp Nyein found himself standing on the side of a foxhole trench and again missels were whistling toward him. In shock he saw two house blown to smitherin’s by a live rocket. That was the final straw, Nyein knew he had to leave the battlefield.
During this time he had told his friends to say he was dead and for 5 years everyone thought he was dead. He had to convince them he was alive.
After that Nyein became one of the founding individuals who started a clinic run by Dr. Cynthia Maung, a Karen Burmese doctor. He attended medical training to become a medic which he did for 16 years.
He moved to the clinic in the bordering country of Thailand and while he was working there, a demonstration for human rights in Burma was organized to be held in Bangkok. Nyein participated in the demonstration which was not approved by the government of Thailand and so he was thrown in jail for being at the demonstration.
While in the Thai jail for 18 months it came to be Christmas time. Everyone was receiving gifts, singing, eating cake and receiving visitors….except for Nyein. He went through most of the day very dejected. Then at 3:00 PM, someone called, “Nyein”. He said “What”. They said you have a present. He was so surprised and supposed it might be a cake for him as well. When he began opening the small parcel he found it was a book, The Bible (in Burmese). He said it was the very first Bible he owned. He also said it was better than cake.
He was released from prison after participating in a hunger strike but broke his probabation again and again demonstrating for the cause of freedom. Finally the Thai government was going to incarcerate him for good and so he fled to Malaysia.
While in Malaysia, he worked in various jobs including an aluminum factory. He lived in an area that was predominately Moslem. A Moslem friend asked him if he was a Moslem and he said no, “I am a Christian”. The friend said why don’t you go to church. Nyein said “I don’t know where to find a church”. The Moslem friend said he would take him to church and he did.
He moved back to the border of Thailand/Burma where, as a refugee, he continued working with the medical clinic. Soon he was the administrator of an outpost clinic that did everything from births to amputating legs. While leading the clinic the large nearby refugee camp sent people to join him attending medical training. One of the people who came for training was Sharon (a preacher’s daughter) who was to become his wife.
He decided to come to the US because his kids (June and Anna) had no country. In Myanmar if you are gone for more than 10 years you are no longer a citizen. Both he and his wife had no country.
They have been in the US for 3 years and found a church home in High Point (our Lao First Wesleyan Church). His kids sang in our Sunday morning service a few weeks ago!!!
Nyein is fluent in English and as you can see from this picture (with Kay and him) he helps to translate in our ESL class. He would enjoy visiting with you when you see him around the church. He has to work every other Sunday.