This past week the Multnomah community lost a friend and fellow servant. Khen Tuang was killed in an automobile accident along with his friend Peter who was a refugee from Myanmar (who tragically lost his wife in a refugee camp in Thailand in 2008, now leaving their three children orphaned). Khen’s wife and daughter were also in the car accident and survived (see http://koin.com/2016/07/28/multiple-people-injured-in-fatal-hwy-213-crash/).
Khen was part of the Global Development and Justice (MAGDJ) program at Multnomah University and he was loved by his peers in cohort 3. Khen was from the Zomi ethnic group (they are generally known as hills people/tribe throughout Northwestern Myanmar). Khen was from the Chen state of Myanmar (Burma) and was active in his church and a graduate from Bible College there. He had a passion to see peoples lives transformed through faith in Christ and community development work. Khen was all in. He was fully committed to preparing and returning to Myanmar to serve those who suffered in his community. Khen was passionate about seeing everyone reach their full potential as people who have been made in the image of God. This past year while researching child poverty in Myanmar, he wrote, “The Bible commends us to take care of the oppressed, vulnerable and the poor. We, as a church, need to help eradicate, holistically, from a biblical perspective, child poverty, while we nurture and feed those who are hungry and provide shelter to the homeless.” His research and topics that he often covered were focused on those who were marginalized. Child poverty, refugees living in Portland – these are just some of the topics that Khen wrote about.
Khen also had a keen eye for research even in a language that was not native to him. This past semester here at MU in Applied Field Research he flourished in learning and applying common development research tools to help the Zomi refugee community succeed in transitioning to life in America. Working with a local Zomi congregation (with pastor Muana Khuptong – Multnomah Biblical Seminary alumnus), Khen formed a research group with a Guatemalan and another student from South Sudan. Together they rose to the task of adapting these complex research tools to help identify resources and needs that are common to refugees moving to the Portland area. Over a 15-week period of time they met with the refugee community and developed a plan to provide additional support to this community.
Khen also loved his family. Even before he arrived in Portland, Khen told me that his family would not be able to join him the first year of his studies. We discussed this and he communicated that this was going to be difficult for him, but that he would work on a plan of having his wife and daughter join him after the first year. And he did just that. Just a week before the accident that took his life, Khen, grinning, walked into my office with his wife Huai and daughter ZemZem. We talked about their plans as a family and he asked me to pray for them (as he often did). As we were standing there, Khen removed his sandals and knelt down on the carpet with his wife and 2-year-old daughter following. I knelt with them and prayed a prayer of blessing over their sweet family. As they left my office, Khen, like he often did, thanked me profusely for the prayer. He was always so grateful.
Khen’s peers have taken it upon themselves to raise funds to help Huai and their daughter ZemZem as they face some difficult challenges ahead. They have started a GoFundMe site dedicated to raising funds to help the family. Please see the link https://www.gofundme.com/2h2yxus for an opportunity to support the family.
We are grateful to have known you Khen. The world is different because of you.
Khen and Peter’s lives will be celebrated at a memorial service on Thursday August 4th at 7:30PM at the Glenfair Church in Portland, OR.
One thought on “A Tribute to Khen Tuang (aka TuaTuang)”
A beautiful tribute, Greg. My heart just aches for the family.