Gathering Strength: Exiled Chin Christians Merged for a Joint Mission
August 3, 2006 – Battle Creek, MI: A three-day long conference under the banner of Chin Baptist Fellowship of America concluded here tonight in Michigan, USA. About 500 Chins expatriates living in the United States gathered in the town of Battle Creek to praise and worship together, and above all, to share fellowship with one another.
But the conference participants also discussed about ways to help Chin people in Chinland and to reach out to refugees from Burma who have been displaced by war and repression in their home country.
“The purpose of the conference is basically to strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ, to build better fellowships among Chin Christians in North America and to come together and work together for a joint mission,” said Dr. Rev Thlaawr Bawihrin, coordinator of the conference and a pastor of Chin Christian Church-Indianapolis.
The conference elected Rev. Bawihrin to be the first General Secretary of CBFA. While it is not a political organization, Rev. Bawihrin said the organization’s mission will not be limited only to spiritual affairs, but it will be engaged in wide-ranging social programs such as helping needy and helpless people inside Burma. A whopping $30,000 US has been budgeted for the initial annual mission project, which is to be carried out by the newly formed committee.
This initiative maybe a very small step, but it still is a great achievement that we have been dreaming for, for many years, said Rev. Dr. Chum Awi, current minister of Dallas Chin Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, USA.
When asked if he wants to see a more inclusive Chin Christian body, the former Secretary-General of Zomi Baptist Convention and newly elected Chairman of CBFA, said that he hopes for an even bigger merging of all existing churches and fellowships under one umbrella. He refers to such existing associations as the CBFA, the Zomi Baptist Convention, the Mara Evangelical Church, as well as other smaller churches and denominations that are not members of any larger association.
In his short speech delivered at the coference, Pu Lian Uk talks about the importance of the roles of Chin Christian Churches in preserving Chin literature and culture.
“As a full-fledged member of the Unrepresented Nations and People Organization (UNPO) we, as a people, must fully understand that we are historically free people. The Church should continue to play such active role to continue to preserve our national identity,” said the 1990 elected Chin MP. UNPO is widely regarded as a shadow United Nations Organization (UNO) and is comprised of indigenous peoples, occupied nations, minorities and independent states that are not represented in formal international inter-governmental bodies such as the United Nations.
Only eight out of over twenty Chin churches in North America participated in this historic conference. Participating churches and fellowships include Battle Creek Chin Baptist Church, Chin Baptist Mission Church, Chin Christian Church, Chin Evangelical Baptist Church, Dallas Chin Baptist Church, North America Matu Christian Church, Ottawa Chin Baptist Church and Vancouver Chin Christian Church.
The conference successfully formed a committee to carry out the tasks of its mission. The next bi-annually conference is slated to be held in Dallas, Texas, USA.
By Salai Elaisa Vahnie