Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Rev. Dr. Samson Hkalam has dedicated his life to spreading the gospel, training Christians for ministry and working for peace in Myanmar’s northeastern Kachin State. A preacher, administrator and advocate who continues to serve Kachin State’s 550,000 Christians through the Kachin Baptist Convention, he is this year’s recipient of a Doctor of Ministry degree, honoris causa, from Providence Theological Seminary.
“Samson is known for being an active leader who is positive and open-minded,” says La Wom Gumling, one of the nearly 20 students from Myanmar who have attended Providence. “Additionally, he has a constructive vision for the Kachin people. He is well-respected.”
Samson’s ministry began in 1979 when he and another 299 missionaries set out from Prayer Mountain near Myitkyina, the Kachin capital, to undertake a three-year mission throughout Myanmar. (The “300” symbolized Gideon’s army; “3” represented Jesus Christ’s three-year ministry.)
In 1997, having already earned his Bachelor of Divinity from Myanmar Institute of Theology in Yangon, he moved to Manitoba to pursue a Master of Arts in Theology from Providence Theological Seminary. He graduated two years later and went on to complete his Doctor of Ministry from Myanmar Institute of Theology after returning to his home country.
Best known for his work as General Secretary of the Kachin Baptist Convention—a denomination that numbers 400,000 members representing 435 churches and 3,500 pastors—Samson has founded both a bible college and leadership training centre in Myitkyina and has also worked toward the eradication of drugs in the north of the country.
He also continues to serve the more than 100,000 Internally Displaced Persons in Kachin State—people who have fled their homes, communities and livelihoods because of the ongoing, armed aggression of the central government and its forces. He personally helped lead families to safety following the breakdown of a ceasefire in 2011, and now, in his role with the KBC, he facilitates spiritual and material care for those living in the 169 IDP Camps.
“These people are waiting to go home to their original places,” says Samson. “Returning people to their land is now the key for us. People want the military to withdraw so they can go home.”
Last November a delegation representing Providence, led by President Dr. David Johnson and Academic Dean of Providence Theological Seminary Dr. Stan Hamm, visited Kachin State and personally invested Samson with a Doctor of Ministry, honoris causa, at a special ceremony in Myitkyina. In addition to the more than 800 guests in attendance, the ceremony was watched by nearly 50,000 people on Facebook Live.
“Rev. Dr. Samson Hkalam has more to teach me than I have to teach him,” remarked Dr. Johnson during the event. “He is truly an example of who a Christian is and what a Christian does.”
Acknowledging the privilege of the honorary doctorate during his acceptance speech, Samson also pointed to God’s grace that, he says, is ever-flowing.
“My understanding of grace is changing every day and every year,” he stated. “God’s grace continues to pour out on me despite my sins and imperfections. God is using KBC to do his ministry in China, India and Myanmar. Today Providence is here to present this honorary doctorate to me. In fact, Providence is honoring all Kachin people. You know our suffering and oppression, and we are so glad you’ve come to see us.”
Providence is proud to present the Doctor of Ministry, honoris causa, for 2018 to Rev. Dr. Samson Hkalam, and we send our warmest greetings to him, his family and the Kachin people whom he serves.
VIDEO: Rev. Dr. Samson Hkalam is the recipient of a Dr. of Divinity, honoris causa, from Providence University College & Theological Seminary for 2018.