Interview with Bawm Christian Pastor from Bangladesh
06 August 2011 [CG Note: Rev. Thimkhup Buiting, General Secretary of the Evangelical Christian Church (ECC), took part in the recent GCCF (Global Chin Christian Fellowship) Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The 43-year-old Bawm Christian pastor, a father of two, worked as a cross-cultural missionary among the Khiang tribal group for six years and reviewed the second edition of the Bawm Holy Bible under the leadership of Bangladesh Bible Society (BBS) in 2002-03.
Rev. Thimkhup Buiting finished his B.A in Bangladesh and B.D from Kolkata Bishop’s College in India.]
Chinland Guardian: Recently, you participated in the GCCF conference held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. How was it?
Rev. Thimkhup Buiting: It was a great joy for me to have been able to attend the conference and I had a chance to make a stronger relationship with Chin pastors and Christian leaders from across the globe both spiritually and physically during our meeting in Malaysia.
Chinland Guardian: How did you feel about the reception from other Chin participants from Burma and abroad?
Rev. Thimkhup Buiting: Actually, it was a very good time for me to meet with our people in this special event. It reminded me of the history that we heard from our forefathers that we, the Chin people, are one family in central China. Now we are scattered in different countries, speaking in different dialects. But I believe our diversity and differences are to be glorifying God and bearing the gospel light to different ethnic groups in this world. I very much appreciated of the reception, approach and friendship of Chin pastors from Burma and other countries.
Chinland Guardian: Share with us both your ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ feelings and views on the conference.
Rev. Thimkhup Buiting: It was the first time I attended the GCCF conference so I don’t have any negative views at the moment. My overall observation was very good.
Chinland Guardian: Tell us a brief historical background of the Bawm people and where they are now.
Rev. Thimkhup Buiting: Presently, the Bawm/Chin people are living along the Chittagong Hill Tracts in the eastern part of Bangladesh, spreading over three districts such as Bandarban, Rangamati and Khagrachari. The population of the Bawm in Bangladesh is estimated between 10,000 and 12,000. All the Bawms are now Christian.
The history said that the Bawms entered Bangladesh in the years 1600-1700 as one of the Tibeto-Burman ethnic groups. And the gospel was brought among the Bawm in on 12 December 1918 at Vairelh Bawm village by a Welsh missionary, Rev. Edwin Rowlands. The Missionary was sent by North East India General Mission (NEIGM). The name of the first church denomination was called Evangelical Christian Church (ECC), which was adopted as suggested by the last missionary from USA, Dr. Pierce D. Samuels before leaving Bangladesh in 1967. Till today, ECC has stood and done her ministry as a self-supported church in Bangladesh. Nowadays among the Bawms, there are many denominations which are also very active in their ministries.
Chinland Guardian: And what about the religions, especially about Christianity?
Rev. Thimkhup Buiting: The Bawm/Chin groups who live in Bangladesh are all Christian at present by the grace of God. Now we, the Bawm people, are extending the Kingdom of God among non-Christian communities. The ECC is proclaiming the gospel amongst other ethnic groups such as Mru, Khumi, Marma/Burmese, Tripura and Tanchangya/Chakma etc.
Chinland Guardian: We have heard that ethnic peoples in Chittagong Hill Tracts have been oppressed by the authorities. Tell us more about them.
Rev. Thimkhup Buiting: Yes, that’s right. As we are living in Muslim populated and dominated country, the ethnic people are suffering a lot. Sometimes, we face many problems between our ethnic groups, too. What the authority is concerned is to make difficulties in order to prevent us from proclaiming the gospel and to illegally occupy the land of tribal peoples.
Chinland Guardian: Your messages to Chin communities across the world.
Rev. Thimkhup Buiting: Firstly let us, all the people of the Chin group, come and unite together to spread the Gospel all over the world through GCCF. This is my vision and mission. Secondly to make a strong and deep relationship among the Chin group and to preserve our own culture and identity.
Interview by Van Biak Thang