Journey of a Lisu catechist who quit full-time ministry to serve in a remote village
Francis By Thar, a Lisu catechist, and his whole households sacrifice their lives for a sacred purpose. Francis wants Lisu people to know Lisu literature to give glory to God in the Lisu language in Lashio City, Myanmar.
He moved to Lashio from Mogok city to be a catechist. He entered Lashio Catechist institute. He took 11 years to decide that he and his wife, Regina Gu Ma Sar, permanently shifted from Mogok to Lashio.
After completing training at St. Luke Catechist institute in Lashio, Francis gave his life to God. In six years of serving as a catechist in Lashio, he felt lacking something. Thus, he resigned from being a full-time catechist and went to Ja Mai Kung's rural village. With prayer and contemplation, he spent a year there.
“One day, I went to a village where the villagers are impoverished. They told me they want their children educated but no one to rely on. Moreover, they were very poor. Then I called five children to my home. I began teaching Lisu literature and catechism,” Francis recalled how that small dream appeared.
In the beginning, it was too hard to survive that he and his wife had to sell vegetables and bamboo shoots to maintain those children who were taking refuge in his home. There were ten children in the very beginning. Since the Catechist himself was poor, he was struggling economically. But Francis never got tired of doing what is good.
He says, “I got no support, but I had to labor with my own hands to feed to those who were not my children.” His sole strength was God, “Everything was like a dream. I prayed earnestly to God and asked advice to him.”
After a year, Francis gave a beautiful name to his home as “Har Bar Lu Lu,” which means “full moon.” He wanted his home as a candle in the dark teaching children Lisu literature and catechism.
By the time the poor parents of the children saw how their children have the capacity to read Lisu and lead a prayer meeting, they talked about it with their neighbors and friends.
Francis confessed, “Every year, children are flocking here. I even have to put limitations as I can’t support all.”
Children were attending a government school, living in his home. But when Covid-19 spread, schools were closed. Thus, Francis started to teach children Lisu literature and catechism in batches.
“Children can learn it quickly. Two months is enough to learn Lisu. I teach them not only literature but also catechism. When they return to their village, they can lead a prayer meeting. They even can teach to their fellow companions,” he said. “It makes me happy and makes my work meaningful.”
Elizabeth Ngwar Mi, one child’s mother, said, “This catechist is a very dedicated man. He loves children very much. My child knew nothing when I put him here. But now, he can read Lisu and know Lisu prayers by heart. The pandemic was an advantage in that way.”
The whole household is committed to a sacred purpose- for the glory of God. Francis has three children out of seven, with four already dead. The children help in their dad’s mission.
Francis praised his wife for her encouragement and love. “My wife is the main support to me. She is helping me. She is ready for any of my mission without complaining. Thanks to God for giving me such a lovely wife,” he said to RVA News.
It has been 14 years that his small home has been active for the children. More than 100 children got knowledge of Lisu literature and catechism, passing their expertise in their villages.
“My dream is simple. I want to be one small stone for the good of humanity and God. My family and I earn nothing from doing this kind of job. But my reward is in heaven. When my time comes to go to heaven, my children will continue this mission. Hopefully,” he stated.
He still didn’t get any support from the Church. He has some best neighbors who give hands whenever he is in urgent need. He has to go like a beggar for the children. But there are always some generous food donors by the Divine Providence.
“Currently, there are 18 children here. I am also still struggling. Sometimes I cry. But God is always with me,” Francis said.
“Any donation from anyone is most welcomed,” he said.
His whole household is serving God and committed to his mission joyfully. He is a “saint next door.”
Inputs from Chwar Thar
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