Sometimes the path into ministry winds around unexpected corners. For Piang Khaw Lian, the path hasn’t been straight. Born into one of the few Christian families in New Dehli, India, Piang never foresaw himself as an ordained Wesleyan pastor in the United States.
As a child, Piang was a trouble-maker. Unable to correct his behavior, Piang read a small book he found in his house called Jesus Christ—Savior of the World. The book was in Burmese, his native tongue, and he understood every word. Finding truth and hope in the booklet, he decided to enroll in a Seventh Day Adventist high school. His father threatened to disown him, but his mother encouraged him to follow God’s leading.
Piang recounts his mother’s prayer over him, as she laid a hand on his head, declaring that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the same Jesus Christ who conquered death and rose from the dead—would guide and use her son. She died before she would see the fruition of her prayer.
In 2009, Piang immigrated to the U. S. and settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After visiting a few Burmese churches, Piang decided to attend an American church to learn English.
Life took a tragic turn. One day, Piang was attacked by his neighbors and left for dead. Police found him and rushed him to St. Joseph’s hospital, where lay unconscious for two days. Miraculously Piang regained life, but remained in the hospital for six months.
At the time, a new Burmese-speaking church called Myanmar Christian Fellowship was celebrating its first anniversary. The leaders of the church came to Piang during his recovery and asked him to serve as a translator for the congregation. Piang gave excuses, but they insisted God had preserved Piang’s life in order for him to serve the church.
The leaders prayed for Piang, and he accepted the call as a translator at Christian Fellowship. Piang served as a translator for a year before a minister at the church, Dr. Richard Conklin, asked him to consider becoming a Wesleyan pastor. “I never dreamed of being an American licensed pastor,” shares Piang.
At first, Piang was concerned that his denominational background might exclude him from the position. Dr. Richard and other leaders mentored him, assuring him by studying the Word of God and seeking to discern God’s calling, Piang was fully qualified to be a Wesleyan pastor.
The path into ministry is rarely straight—Piang never imagined that God would lead him into ordained pastoral ministry.
After much prayer and consideration, Piang enrolled in the FLAME program and began his path to ordination.
Not everyone was pleased with Piang’s path to ministry. Many in his congregation identified with different Christian denominations. “Some of the believers could not understand how I joined the Wesleyan Church, and some of the leaders told me they were against Wesleyan Church policies.”
To maintain unity, Piang called a meeting. He and Dr. Richard explained the tenets of Wesleyan doctrine, asking those with objections to raise their hands and voice complaints. The meeting continued until all questions had been addressed.
Piang worked toward unity between believers of different denominations.
“God’s Word came through me and gave peace to the believers,” Piang testifies.
Today, Piang knows God has called him to care for the young congregation at Christian Fellowship. “I take care of them,” he says with a smile. His pastoral care ministry daily includes everything from visitation to intercessory prayer and counseling.
As an incorrigible boy in New Dehli, India, Piang never anticipated the path on which God would direct his life. He gives the glory to God, and points to his mother’s bold prayers and the guidance of mentors in Milwaukee, who encouraged him to courageously pursue God’s calling.
Piang’s story holds riches of truth about the power of prayer, trust in God’s guidance, and unity in the ecumenical body of Christ.