Jesse Yangmi: The Early Years
Son of a tribal chief, Jesse Yangmi
was born high in the mountains of an un-administered area of the Tibetan/Burma border.
was still a child, a Lisu missionary named Hupasha came across the snowy mountains to tell his
village about Jesus.
's father rejected Hupasha's message, Jesse chose to follow Jesus and for this was also disowned by his
father, and went to live with his
uncle in another village.
After several months, Jesse's father relented and allowed him to return home.
Putao Years and Freedom
grew up in a multi-lingual society that used Lisu, Chinese, Jerwang and other languages.
This upbringing foreshadowed a lifelong interest in languages and the important contribution Jesse
would make to the tribal people of Asia.
's father finally accepted Christ as his
savior in 1949, and when he
died a year later, Jesse moved south to the Putao plain of northern Burma.
In the following years, he
took advantage of every educational opportunity he
could find, developing a reputation as a teacher among his
time in the United States to complete BSL and BTh degrees at Ozark Bible College
Because of his
extensive experience on the mission field, Jesse
was asked by the college to teach courses in missions to his
Asian Christian Mission
and Lisu Bible Translation
Upon completing his studies in 1975, Jesse formed Asian Christian Mission (ACM) and began mission survey work in northern Thailand among the Lisu people there.
For fifteen years, Jesse's mission strategy was to live with the people and get to know them, and later to tell them the good news about Jesus as opportunities arose.
was also able to maintain contact with churches in nearby Burma.
Concurrent with the mission work, Jesse
undertook a retranslation of the Lisu Bible in partnership with the United Bible Society
The result was a more readable "Good News" type translation that was more usable for the Lisu
As the Lisu Christian church
began to develop and grow in Thailand, a lack of properly trained pastors, teachers and Sunday school teachers became evident.
As early as the 1980's, Lisu Christian leaders saw the need for the establishment of an institution that would be devoted to training promising young Lisu Christians for missions and ministry, and to fill the gap
of biblically trained leaders that was growing larger as the church grew.
Tragedy and a New Beginning
This vision continued into the 1990's, but progress seemed slow.
Then sadly in 1997, Drema Esther passed into eternity after a short illness, leaving Jesse to continue the work without his beloved and loyal partner of 35 years.
It was Drema who had "held down the fort," freeing Jesse
to make his significant contributions to the work in Asia.
After a time, Lisu Christian leaders of Thailand approached Jesse
and asked him to shepherd to completion the project that had only been a dream for so many years.
They commissioned Jesse
to found a Bible training institute for Lisu
and other tribal groups.
agreed, and began a grueling two-year travel and fundraising effort.
At the same time he
began coursework towards the attainment of advanced theological degrees; since these academic attainments would help the new school attain favor in the eyes of the Thailand government.
In 1998, a large tract of land was secured north of Chiang Dao, Thailand, and temporary bamboo structures were erected to house the first class of Bible College students.
Jesse was awarded three doctoral degrees in 2001.
Campus development continued, and funds were secured for this purpose.
By 2002, most of the buildings on campus were permanent.
In 2003, LBI
held its first graduation ceremony.
Today 80 percent of LBI
graduates are serving as leaders and teachers among the Lisu people, while 10 percent have gone on to advanced study.
The Institute is a fully-modern facility, staffed with well-trained teachers ready to provide new opportunities for young Lisu and other tribal students who dream of serving in full-time ministry.
Although Jesse continues to serve LBI as a teacher, he is concerned that he leave the Lisu people with a newer, better translation of the Bible that includes an accurate concordance.
is also being asked to produce other Christian literature.