By TIM STANLEY World Staff Writer

Chin Do Kham could read it in their eyes.

It was the same fear and apprehension that once, he could well-imagine, had been visible in his own.

"They are trying to adapt. They have an identity crisis. They are searching," Kham told the Tulsa World in 2009 while describing his work with Zomi refugees from the Asian nation of Myanmar.

A native Zomi himself, he used his education and influence to help them connect to the community and adjust to Western life.

Kham came to Tulsa from his homeland in the 1970s to attend Oral Roberts University. After his schooling, he went on to teach there and at colleges around the world.

But his thoughts were never far from his people — thousands who had come to the U.S., many of them members of Tulsa's own growing Zomi community, as well as those still in Myanmar, living in extreme poverty under an oppressive regime.

Chin Do Kham, a longtime Tulsa-area resident and Myanmar native who made dozens of trips back over the years to take aid, hope and faith to thousands, died Sunday in Laurel, Md. He was 54. Services are pending with Schaudt's Funeral Service in Glenpool.

Kham was on a ministry trip when he suffered an apparent heart attack.

For his efforts on the Zomis' behalf, Kham had become well-known among them in the U.S., as well as among those in Myanmar's northern Chin state, the ethnic group's homeland.

Formerly called Burma, Myanmar had until two years ago endured a half-century of military dictatorship. Recent democratic reforms, however, are ushering in change.

A U.S. citizen, Kham returned to Myanmar often, including multiple trips after a massive cyclone devastated the country in 2008.

Raising money in Tulsa, he led efforts to build hundreds of stilt houses for displaced families and distribute food to children. Traveling with a group of native pastors, Kham was able to get into hard-hit areas closed off to other Westerners.

At the numerous military checkpoints they had to pass through, soldiers always asked if there were any foreigners in the van, Kham said later.

"If they had known I was an American, we'd have been in big trouble," he said.

The president of Global Outreach Community Development, a nongovernmental organization he started, Kham recently opened an office in Yangon, the country's largest city, to promote leadership development, business training and social programs.

Kham was born and raised in Chin state. He recalled walking two days from his small village to attend the eighth grade in Tedim, a mountaintop city.

Raised in a Christian home, he eventually was called into the ministry and came to the U.S.

The exodus of Zomi people to Tulsa is generally recognized as having started with Kham.

Now about 3,000 strong, with most of its residents living near ORU, Tulsa's Zomi community has grown rapidly in the past five years because of an influx of refugees.

The Rev. Cin Khaw Kham of Tulsa's Far East Mission Church, and a cousin of Kham's, said Kham was highly respected in the community.

"He was a great educated leader ... a compassionate man that liked to help people throughout his life," he said.

Chin Do Kham held doctoral degrees from ORU and Trinity International University in Chicago.

He had taught doctoral students at ORU and in Europe and the Far East and was involved in Christian leadership training worldwide.

The Rev. Don Couch of Tulsa, a close friend for 20 years, remembers how Kham would spend hours a day in prayer.

"When I first came to Tulsa, he was prayer pastor at my church," Couch said. "Dr. Kham just had a tremendous heart for people, not just his own, but for the whole world. And he had a worldwide impact."

Kham's survivors include his wife, Sira Kham; two children, Mary Kham and Joshua Kham; and six siblings.

Tim Stanley 918-581-8385




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That's very sad. He was such a great person. I am very sorry.

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