Chapter 1: Losing My Face to Save My Soul

An Asian Pastor’s Journey from Career to Calling

Wesley Kyaw Thura

“It’s done.” I said these words to my wife Alma as I walked into our home.

I had just met with my supervisors to inform them that I was resigning my pastorate. After twenty-six years, I was walking away from everything that had defined my life and ministry—youth leader, pastor, denominational leader, member of dozens of church boards, committees, and task forces—and all the titles, position, prestige, and power that went with it. My wife and I were leaving behind salary and security to step out on faith. We were closing the door on a career to open the door to a calling.

What brought us to this crossroads?

FORMATION OF AN ACHIEVER

My childhood was, to say the least, dynamic. My twin brother and I were the last two of seven children, born to a Christian mother and Buddhist father. Three days after we were born, my father came to the hospital to demand a divorce from my mother. A lifelong womanizer, my father decided it was time to be free to pursue his other romances without the burden of a wife and family. My mother became the bread-earner for a family of eight.

Life was a struggle, but my mother began to express her Christian faith more freely. She particularly began to plant the seeds of faith within me, every day telling me the stories of Jesus in great detail. She and I grew very close.

Perhaps because of the void we felt without a father, my twin brother and I became high achievers. In school, we won all of the academic prizes. We excelled in sports. And even as young students, we were singled out for leadership roles. We learned quickly that acceptance, respect, and even love was achieved through high performance.

A HORRIFYING END—A TURN TOWARD JESUS

In 1988, there was a student uprising in my country. We were pushing for more freedom and democracy from our militaristic, socialist government. I became a leader in the democratic student movement.

Our dreams for a better country came to a horrifying end when the government crushed our demonstrations with deadly force. Seeing friends and colleagues killed before my eyes was devastating. I realized political change was not enough. First, there had to be spiritual transformation—beginning with me…


About the Author

WESLEY KYAWTHURA is national director for Asian Access Myanmar.

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