Global Chin Christian Fellowship: Interview With Rev. Dr. Stephen Hre Kio
29 June 2010: [Note: Due to various reasons and purposes, the Chin people have spread throughout the world, settling in different countries. In attempts to create a network where Chin Christians worldwide can share, communicate and collaborate for the spiritual and physical development, some Chin Christian leaders met for the first time in Thailand in February 2010.
Entitled as Chin Christian Leaders’ Consultation, the meeting discussed the possible formation of ‘Global Chin Christian Fellowship’ in the near future. An official invitation has been distributed among the Chin people across the globe to attend a conference to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in November, 2010.
One of the working committee members of GCCF, Rev. Dr. Stephen Hre Kio talked about the formation and purposes of GCCF, its future plans and visions, and operations for the Chin people worldwide as an international body in this interview conducted by Van Biak Thang of Chinland Guardian news.]
Chinland Guardian: Tell us more about ‘Global Chin Christian Fellowship’, its purposes and activities.
Rev. Dr. Stephen Hre Kio: The Global Chin Christian Fellowship that we are working to form in the near future is primarily by Chin Christian Churches both inside Burma and outside. Its purpose is of basically twofold: (a) To promote the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and (b) To promote the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of the Chins everywhere. Since it is in the process of formation, we do not have much to talk about its activities.
Chinland Guardian: How did it actually start and what is its current status?
Rev. Dr. Stephen Hre Kio: We the Chin Christian leaders have certain concerns in terms of evangelism, unity among various Chin tribal groups, and development of the Chin land as a whole for a long time. We therefore called a consultative meeting in Pattaya, near Bangkok, in Feb 8-10, 2010. Those who came to the meeting agreed that we should called for a larger Chin gathering as soon as possible, to deliberate on the concerns we have, and determine where the deliberation will lead us.
Chinland Guardian: Is it a Baptist-oriented or non-denominational body?
Rev. Dr. Stephen Hre Kio: The GCCF we are proposing is a non-denominational body. We do not want this Organization to be dominated by any single denomination, including the Baptist. Because in Myanmar (and also in other countries) the Chin Christian population is composed of significant number of Baptists (in fact more than 55%), the represented composition of the GCCF might appear to be dominated by Baptists. This appearance may be unavoidable, but our aim is not to be dominated by Baptists, or any single Church body for that matter. We do hope that many other denominations will participate and fully involve in the works of the organization we hope to establish.
Chinland Guardian: Based upon the past experiences and situations facing, for example, ZBC (Zomi Baptist Convention) and CACC (Chin Association for Christian Communication), of which the latter has been seen as a Hakha-dominant body rather than the Chin as a whole, some are skeptical about the long-term stability of this kind of organisation among the Chin people.
Rev. Dr. Stephen Hre Kio: The Zomi Baptistt Convention was first led by the Rev. Hau Go, the first US trained Chin leader from Tiddim. He even coined the word Zomi to be the name of all Chin Christians in 1953. If the current ZBC appeared to be dominated by the Hakha group, it was never intended to be so in the first place. History has its own way of progress and development and there is not much that could be done in terms of correcting the imbalance without causing some damage to it. As far as I am concerned, the Chin Association for Christian Communication (CACC) is never intended to be representing other tribal groups other than the Hakha speaking communities. If the CACC is dominated by the Hakha speaking communities, it is the organization they intended it to be so in the first place. I do not think they have to make an apology for doing so.
I am positive about the GCCF, that it will be stable and enduring for a long time if the following conditions are met: (1) All the Chin tribal groups are willing and enthusiastic about working for the wellbeing of all Chins; (2) All who participate in the GCCF – either as members or as leaders are determined that fairness, justice and selfless sacrifice be the dominating ingredient in the running of the organization; (3) All members particularly GCCF leaders are committed Christians who work for the Lord and for the Chins as a whole.
Chinland Guardian: Thinking of the weakness, risks and threats, what could be the negative forces that would prevent GCCF in any possible forms from functioning and achieving its goals?
Rev. Dr. Stephen Hre Kio: I have no doubt about the realities that we will face difficulties in the coming months and years when we form and run the GCCF (even with any other name): There are many negative forces that I can think of such as disunity among our Chin tribal groups, different dialects and languages, great distances of mountains and deep valleys to cross in order to communicate, deep seated suspicion and distrust between various groups, our tendency to criticize and pull down others rather than supporting and building up, and even negative efforts from external corners to dismantle our organization. I am fully aware of all these negative forces.
However, I am prepared to face these difficulties and move on for the good of all Chins – physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. Because we the Chins have been disadvantaged by these negative forces for years, decades and even generations, my question is: How long should we continue to be defeated by these negative forces? Are we to be passively enduring these forces indefinitely? Or are we to stand up and fight these negative forces and try to win over it? And I am inviting all the Chins to fight with me! (To fight not with earthly weapons, but with the Word of the Lord.) If we don’t do it now, when will we do it? If we don’t do it, who will do it for us? I sincerely believe that the time for us is now!
Let us remember two things: One – this is the 21st century, a century of instant communication, and therefore distances and mistrusts should be overcome by intimate communication. Two – the Chins have been in many parts of the world, forming many Churches (probably by the hundreds) as has never been before. We are in a new world with a new world order!
I remember a saying which says: When it comes to the future, there are three kinds of people: First – those who let things happen; second – those who make it happen; and third – those who wonder what happened. I would not want the Chins to be in the first (who let things happen), or the third (who wonder what happened), but in the second – those who make it happen! We the Chins should resolve to make things happen: to form a Global Chin Christian organization and make it successful, all “for the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31). To those who do not want to form GCCF, or any International Chin Christian organization, I want to urge: Do something, do not just stand by, doing nothing! Doing nothing is not acceptable!
Chinland Guardian: So, how is it going to function as a new body that represents the Chin Christians inside and outside Burma as a whole?
Rev. Dr. Stephen Hre Kio: We have not worked out the details of how it should or would function. We are inviting many Chin Christian Leaders from inside and outside of Myanmar to gather in Kuala Lumpur in November 24-28, 2010, and we will discuss the function and its objectives in greater detail then.
Chinland Guardian: Does it mean the non-Christian Chins and other secular organisations are excluded in any sense?
Rev. Dr. Stephen Hre Kio: Yes, this is a Chin Christian organization, and any secular organization may not participate in its decision making. They can however come and attend and observe its gathering. We will be happy to make them happy.
Chinland Guardian: We have learned that a conference will be held in Kuala Lumpur in October this year. How many representatives of different churches and denominations are participating?
Rev. Dr. Stephen Hre Kio: The date of the conference is November 24-28, 2010; Nov 24 being the date of arrival, and Nov 29, being the date of departure. It will be in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Chin Churches in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia will be the host for us all. We will announce other logistics later. We are inviting all Denominations (the Chin Christian denominations) from all Chin Christian tribal groups. We are unable to be definite at this time how many will respond positively to our invitation. We hope many, if not all, will do.
Chinland Guardian: What can be expected from this upcoming conference in Malaysia?
Rev. Dr. Stephen Hre Kio: We hope that a decision will be made to form an international Chin Christian body (may be Global Chin Christian Fellowship). We want it to be a loose fellowship rather than a tight union. It will serve as a platform or a forum where we the members and leaders can chart a new course in an effort of reconciliation, unity, justice and above all in evangelism. For example, the Chins inside Myanmar and outside as well are sending evangelists (or missionaries) to various parts of Myanmar to preach the gospel for many years now. We don’t even know so far how many in all are sent, how much money is spent, who sent them, and what is the result of this great effort for evangelism. Unless we make great effort in forming a global fellowship we won’t know the statistics nor the results of this great effort for many years to come. That is why GCCF is a must!
Chinland Guardian: Some leaders and pastors might think that their involvement could put their lives at risk and in danger inside the country as the organisation is formed abroad and associated with the Chin leaders in exile. How would GCCF make sure that it is safe for them?
Rev. Dr. Stephen Hre Kio: The organization (GCCF) is formed by Chin Christian leaders for Chin Christian churches and of Chin individual Christians for the good of the Chinland and for the Chin communities around the world. It is not intrinsically a social or political organization. We do not aim to form any organization other than Christian organization working for the spread of the Kingdom of God where peace, unity, and justice prevail. To work for that kind of organization, I do not see why the leaders’ lives of this body should be at risk.
Chinland Guardian: It has been almost always said of any Chin organisations as a male-influenced body. Where would GCCF stand in terms of women involvement and leadership in its operations?
Rev. Dr. Stephen Hre Kio: I admit humbly that all Chin organizations have been dominated by men. (Unfortunately, this is true in many parts of the world too.) And so to say the least, I am not happy with it. I like to invite women leaders of various Chin Christian groups to send their female workers so that their voice could be heard. (I have written an article: To ordain or not to ordain women, that is the question, and have published it in a magazine. We can make it available to those who like to read it.)
Chinland Guardian: Some people will have difficulties in using English as a communication language while others cannot write and speak Burmese properly. Besides, the Chin people do not have a common language. For effective communications among the Chin people across the globe, what is GCCF’s preparation?
Rev. Dr. Stephen Hre Kio: We are not sure at this time what will be the medium of communication at the Kuala Lumpur conference. My guess is that the Chins as a whole will be more at home in Burmese than either any Chin language or English. I will be happy to urge Chin leaders to speak in Burmese, although I could not speak well, or preach, in Burmese myself. I am happy with whatever is practical for the Chin leaders who come to Malaysia. I think, however, that the proceedings of the meeting will be recorded in English so that we can process and decimate it through internet.
Chinland Guardian: What else can be expected from GCCF for both the short and long term for the Chin people individually and collectively?
Rev. Dr. Stephen Hre Kio: My hope is that once GCCF is formed, the Chins who come and participate in the process of decision making and charting a new course for the Chin Christians at Kuala Lumpur, which will certainly be a new chapter in Chin Christian history, will never be the same. They will know that their Lord has written a new history for them, and they are asked by their Master to be partners with Him in His holy ministry. If and when that happens, the future is as bright for the Chins as the promises of God.
Chinland Guardian: Share with us your personal views particularly on GCCF.
Rev. Dr. Stephen Hre Kio: My views particularly on GCCF (if it comes true to reality) is that after coming to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and forming GCCF to be a vehicle for the ministry of the Lord, those who come will be happy they came. We all will be satisfied to know that we fulfill our role in making history. That we will be called: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful in a few things. Come and share our master’s happiness” (Mat 25:21).