At Hui 2017, the Chin Glory Evangelical Church of Nelson was welcomed as a fully constituted church in our Union of New Zealand Baptist churches. The following is adapted from a Hui presentation made by the church, with thanks to THANG THANG TIALHnIN for much of the background material.
Chin is a northwestern state in the country of Myanmar (Burma). The Chin people have their own traditional dress, languages, dialects and beliefs. Originally animists, due to the arrival and influence of American Baptist missionaries more than one hundred years ago, approximately ninety per cent of Chin people today are Christian. The rest of Myanmar is predominantly Buddhist.
Chin Glory Evangelical Church
Chin people came to Nelson more than ten years ago as part of New Zealand’s refugee quota. It was quite a culture shock for them, made more difficult in that few of them spoke English well.
At their Hui presentation, John Thian Hlun, Chin Glory Evangelical Church member and former pastor, gave an example of how even simple communication could be misconstrued in those early days. Soon after he arrived, one of his new friends invited him to their home to learn how to make muffins. John was asked to bring some flour with him. The next day, John dutifully picked flowers from his garden to take along to the lesson!
The Chin Glory Evangelical Church was established in Nelson in 2012, with seventy-two people attending. “We were thinking, ‘How can we survive here in New Zealand?’” says John.
The group approached the then pastor of Nelson Baptist Church, Hamish Baxter, about how they could become a member of the Baptist Union, since most Chin people come from a Baptist background. Hamish gave them a fellowship charter. It involved a lot of time and paperwork but, with the help of many people, the steps of first becoming a fellowship and then a fully constituted church were finally achieved.
“By the grace of God we are now a member of the Baptist Union family, which we very much appreciate,” says John. “When we were constituted, when I got that email, in my mind came when Jesus spoke to his disciples that saying, ‘This is what I tell you to do—love each other just as I love you.’ So in this way, as the Baptist Union loves us, we love you as well.”
Today, there are more than 500 Chin people living in Nelson, and Chin Glory Evangelical Church has 170 attendees.
Some people have asked the church why the word 'Baptist' doesn't appear in their name. The story of how the church came to be named is interesting. The members prayed and wrote down four or five options for names on pieces of paper, which were placed in a bowl. They prayed again, determining that what was written on the first slip selected at random from the bowl would be the new name for the church. And so it was that ‘Chin Glory Evangelical Church’ was selected!
Story: Thang Thang Tialhnin, with Linda Grigg
Thang Thang is Youth Secretary for Chin Glory Evangelical Church.
Carey’s new Ethnic Ministry Leadership course stirs enthusiasm
Leaders of ethnic churches requested Carey Baptist College to create a course to raise leadership skills of potential leaders in their congregations. This was made possible with the help of funding from the Tabernacle Trust.
The first two subjects covered in the new Ethnic Ministry Leadership course were New Testament survey, taught by Laurie Guy, and Inspirational Preaching, led by Beulah Wood, who is also the programme leader.
The participants, who had all grown up with non-English backgrounds, met for over three hours on Thursday evenings during the second semester. The organisers were delighted at the mix of people—Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian, three from the Philippines, six from Myanmar and five from Ethiopia. Together they encouraged one another and gained new skills for leadership for their congregations around Auckland.
“I see people change and grow during a preaching course, and I saw it again here,” Beulah says. “The students gained in poise, planning, and ability to make a message memorable and impacting for a listening audience.”
One participant commented, “I have a better understanding of the New Testament now.” Another said, “I like the pace and interactive style. I am learning how to preach to people wisely.”
In semester one of 2018, the study subjects will be Introduction to Theology with Rev Brian Smith, and Gospel and Culture, with Gordon Stewart.
“We’re excited for this opportunity of learning and growth in understanding the Bible and church leadership,” says Carey’s Director of Ministry Training, Jonny Weir.
For more information, email [email protected].
Photo credit: Rebecca McLeay