One of founding president Charles Manske’s living legacies is CUI’s emphasis on living out the Great Commission at home and abroad. Since its founding, CUI has become a crossroads for students journeying overseas on mission work or coming to study from a foreign country.
Timu Kwi ’94, a family doctor in coastal Texas, came to CUI from war-torn Thailand where her hopes for becoming a medical doctor bloomed amidst bloodshed and poverty.
“Every summer we had to worry about the Burmese coming and shooting people,” Kwi says. “Several of my friends were killed. Most of my brother’s friends were, too, either by landmines or they were shot. The soldiers would rob the grain and burn the villages.”
Even worse was the malaria, she says.
“One time I had it for a whole month and couldn’t walk. I had to learn to walk all over again.”
But Kwi kept her dream alive and admired the example of her aunt, a doctor who would come home from work to find people sitting on the stairs of her house waiting to be treated.
“I thought that was pretty cool to work in a hospital and then come home and help the neighbors,” Kwi says.
But the future “seemed pretty bleak,” Kwi admits. “I didn’t have any money or way to come to the U.S."
"But I studied hard and prayed and God made a way for me.”
Her parents were lay missionaries to the Karen (pronounced ka-RIN) people on the border of Burma and Thailand. Fellow missionaries saw Timu’s initiative and paid for her to take correspondence courses in English literature and biology. She also worked in a small community hospital where a missionary trained her and other locals to give IVs and shots, deliver babies and prescribe medicine. She then worked as a maid in Bangkok for a missionary family and ran over to the English school in her off hours to take classes in physics and math.
“There was a lot of prayer,” Kwi says. “What really motivated me was the Bible verse in Colossians, ‘Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.’ Whether it was taking care of people with malaria in the village or taking the SAT, I always tried to do my best and wait for God to open the way. He is amazing.”
God opened a door through Dr. Marlin Schultz, a visiting missionary from CUI. He arranged for Kwi to get a scholarship to study in CUI’s pre-med program.
“The teachers at Concordia were wonderful and down-to-earth,”
Kwi says. “You could walk in any time and talk to them.”
For a part-time job, Kwi took care of Charles Manske’s mother for a time when his mother lived at home. She also gave home care to Congressman Dannemeyer’s mother-in-law. In her leisure time she ran the trails around campus.
“That was my quiet time,” she says. “It was good exercise spiritually and physically.”
When she graduated she was not a U.S. citizen and could not afford medical school, so then-President Ray Halm personally drove her to Loma Linda University and introduced her to the president who offered Kwi a grant to attend medical school. During her residency Kwi returned to Thailand annually to serve in internal medicine and infectious disease, then moved there for a year to work at a hospital. Today she and her husband and two children live in Port Lavaca, Texas, a small fishing town south of Houston which has a population of Karen refugees. Kwi teaches Sunday school in their native language.
“My father says, ‘God works in mysterious ways. You couldn’t come here [to Thailand] so they came to you,’” Kwi says.
Her parents, also refugees, live in Port Lavaca as well.
“God has been wonderful,” Kwi says. “One day I’d like to go back to Thailand and serve there full time.”