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Most Amazing Revd Dr Thansiama Tlau

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

/ Published by VIRTHLI
Prof Lal Dena, VIRTHLI Columnist

Never have I ever met such an honest and God-fearing person like Revd Thansiama, who retired as Director of Health Department of the Southern Asia Division of Seventh-Day Adventists in 2000, now settling at Washington D.C., USA.

Right from his school days, Revd Thansiama had an extraordinarily brilliant academic record. In all examinations of the School of Nursing at Rangoon, Burma , he stood first. While still doing his second year of Nursing course, he appeared at the Division School Leaving Certificate (equivalent to Matriculation) organized by the Southern Asia Division of Seventh-Day Adventists covering India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Nepal and Bhutan in 1961. Over 2500 students from these six countries appeared in this examination. Behold!! Thansiama became the topper.

Thansiama graduated from the School of Nursing as a topper in 1962  and then served as Medical Evangelist at Myohla, Burma in 1963. In 1964, he joined the Burma Union Bible Seminary at Myaungmya for one year. Thansiama again stood first in the final examination. In 1966 he got married with a God-fearing, beautiful and tall woman, Pi Aiziki Fanai at Khampat. He graduated from Spicer College (now Spicer Adventist University) in 1971-75. He also passed B.Ed from North Eastern Hill University, Shillong. Well-equipped theologically and academically, Thansiama served in different capacities in different places at Tahan, Singunau, Maymyo, (all in Burma), and Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India where he was ordained into the Gospel Ministries by Pastor Matison, President and Pastor Chand, Secretary, North India Union of Seventh-Day Adventists..

In 1980-83, Thansiama served as Preceptor-cum-School Nurse and local Pastor at the Adventist Training School where he was once a student in 1956-57. In 1983-86, he was appointed to be the first Director of the Nagaland Region and then promoted as Secretary of Manipur Section. This is how we met. It so happened one day when he came to see me at the University campus expressing his desire to appear at the M.A (History) examination as a private candidate. So did he and cleared the first year examination without any difficulty. This is how our friendship began and grew..

Revd Thansiama was a man of faith and uncompromising in his belief. One of his papers of the second year M.A. examination fell on Saturday, the Day of Sabbath. Here was the real test of his faith. As a committed Adventist and man of God, he told me that he could not sit in the examination on the day of Sabbath before sun-set.  I told him bluntly that the University rule could not be relaxed for him. If he could not sit in the examination, he had to drop and had to clear that particular paper next year. Unmoved, Pu Siama met the Controller of Examinations pleading that “he would be confined to any solitary room in the Controller’s office as soon as the examination started for others from 11 am onwards till sun-set to be guarded by invigilators. After sun-set, he should start writing his examination”. That means, an extra-invigilator was to be engaged for him only from 11 am till sun-set and again from 5 pm to 9 pm on that day to enable him to complete the examination. What a fantastic proposal! The Controller was more confused. Out of despair, he then directed Pu Siama to meet the Chairman of the Examination Committee, the highest authority in the examination section of the University. He gave the same plea to the Chairman and lo! his prayer was granted! He thus cleared the M.A. final examination and came out in high second class in 1989. What a victory!

Soon after this, Thansiama was appointed Director of Health Ministries Department of Southern Asian Division comprising of four independent countries such as India, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives Islands, 1991-2000.  A number of years passed by since he passed his post-graduation. Pu Thansiama contacted me again expressing his desire to do Ph.D. under my supervision. He did registration on the topic: TOBACCO SMOKING: A CASE STUDY ITS ECONOMIC AND HEALTH EFFECTS ON MIZORAM which was of course related to his ministry in 1994. As a man of little faith as usual, I had no confidence in Pastor Thansiama that he would be able to complete his PH.D work, being burdened by his official duty. But to my utter surprise, one fine morning he came to Imphal and handed over his first draft thesis of more than two inches thick. I hurriedly went through it, made necessary changes and modifications and and told him to submit it. And lo! the day of his viva voce came and Revd Thansiama successfully defended his thesis and was duly awarded the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY on 15th April, 2000. It was indeed a red-letter day for Pu Thansiama.

During my thirty years of service, fifteen scholars got the degree of Ph.D under my supervision. No more personal relationship exists in most cases between me and my ex-scholars. The day they left the University was more or less the end of our connection. But Pu Thansiama is a different person, most amazing and grateful person I have ever met in my life. He is now in USA. We are far apart in distance. Yet we are still very close in heart. Pu Siama keeps calling me off and on and sometimes the telephonic talk lasts more than one hour and then usually concludes every talk with prayer for me and my family. Whenever we meet in Manipur or elsewhere, he came always with something precious in hand which I never expect!

When my beloved wife, Mrs Vanlalhlu passed away on 24 December, 2013, the sad news was conveyed to him at 00:30 (USA local time), Pu Thansiama burst into tears uncontrollably and amidst of torrent tears, he spontaneously wrote a heart-rending yet comforting poem on my departed wife; and again after one year composed another poem for the first death anniversary of my beloved wife. What a grateful friend I have in Revd Dr Thansiama! I thank God Almighty for having given me the most amazing and loving friend. I hope and pray that this friendship will continue even in life beyond.
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