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"We only knew three English words when we first arrived in Canada July 2003 - 'Yes,' 'No,' and "I don't know,'" says Jehu Lian, pastor of Chin Christian Church. "We struggled with culture, language, and an uncertain future."
The Chin people were once an independent nation with distinct borders. Under British rule, the Chin lands were divided between Burma and India in 1937. Later, Burmese (now Myanmar) rulers systematically discriminated against and enslaved the Chin people. The Chin began fleeing their homeland and now live in many countries around the world.
Six Chin families arrived in Kitchener in 2003. More families moved into the area, and a year later, they began meeting together as a church. Initially they worshipped in homes, but as the group grew, they looked for a larger meeting place. A dining hall room served as a worship space until it also became too small. They began looking for a church building and, although they found several possibilities, the $300 monthly rental cost was more than they could afford. They continued to pray, reflecting on how their struggles were like those of Jesus, who had no place to be born but in a stable.
Hup, a member of the Chin Christian Church, met Mithouna, a member of First Hmong Mennonite Church, through work. Hup shared the problem facing the Chin congregation. Mithouna went to her pastor, Dan Yang. Without hestitation Dan offered the First Hmong church building to the Chin at no cost. He remembers how First Mennonite Church in Kitchener helped the Hmong when they were newcomers to Canada. This was an opportunity for his congregation to do as others had done for them. Dan says, "We learned from First Mennonite church who was our mother, and now Chin Christian Church is our daugher church."
As a relationship developed between the two congregations, the Chin learned about Mennonites. Interested in joining the Mennonite Church they contacted Brian Bauman, MCEC Mission Minister. As a result, the Chin Christian Church will be welcomed at the 2009 Annual Church Gathering as an emerging congregation in Mennonite Church Eastern Canada.
Pastor Jehu is happy to be part of the Mennonite Church. "While we were facing difficulty, we were blessed and God responded to our prayer with the offer of First Hmong Mennonite Church. I will like to request your patience and understanding as we establish ourselves in this country. We pray for you that God will multiply the blessings he gives to First Hmong and the Mennonite Church."