In November, 2009, Lanny and Melanie learned that an American Baptist-related Burmese congregation was meeting each Sunday in a Chinese restaurant and they visited the service there. Within several weeks that Chin Burmese congregation was meeting in the OBC building. Early negotiations for compensation for the use of rooms, use of Peter for cleanup was done between our pastors and their leaders. There was a need for ongoing relationships for educating about use of Sunday School rooms, and other details that can sometimes derail a relationship.
It was February 2, 2010 that the first gathering between the then OBC Chin Mission Group and members of the GA Chin Baptist Church met together. OBC Mission Group was made up of people who responded to an invitation from the pulpit in December, 2009, by Lanny, to serve as a liaison between OBC and GCBC.Kathy Stayton became chair of that group.
There were 16 OBCers and about 25 Chin folk in that first gathering together. An interim pastor served as translator. This launched a relationship between the two congregations. By June, 2010, a GCBC/OBC Partnership Mission Group was formed so that planning could be done by people in both congregations. GCBC still did not have a full-time pastor. One Sunday a month was set aside for OBC to bring household items and clothing. Clothing was discontinued--our clothes are too big for most in their congregation.
In October, GCBC hired a full time pastor who had been working in an assistant minister capacity in a large Chin church in Indianapolis, Z.Hrang Kam. He was installed, with his family present, on October 31. By January, he had organized the congregation with all the committees necessary to do the work of a growing congregation.
In 2010 the Chin people helped in that year's Spring Cleanup and a combined potluck lunch. They joined OBC service on World Communion Sunday. On the Sunday before Christmas, a joint Christmas party--spontaneously building a nativity scene from a simplified script of the biblical story with translation, using people from both congregations, singing carols together and separately, with simple refreshments. All of these activities continue.
In 2011 we added to the combined activities: a summer OBC/GCBC youth day in a nearby park and pool and teaching English to stay-at-home moms in four different apartments in Clarkston and Avondale and Decatur. Up to 30 women have had some relationship to these English sessions.
By 2012, Beatrice Hoffman became the point person for the OBC Sunday School, and she works directly with Sui Len Par from the Chin church. A Saturday presentation on family planning by Dr. Emily Herndon and a fine translator was attended by 30 women. Activities of 2011 continue. The GCBC supports at least 5 missionaries in Burma, Pastor Kam has bought a house with the help and advice of Bill Adams, and 3 others have bought homes.
Though our OBC/GCBC Partnership Mission Group is small, we meet only when needed, with all other communications going via Pastor Kam, our pastors, Peter, and Kathy. it is a sounding board for ideas. Their church is growing quickly by newly arriving refugees and and lots of new babies, so that the Prayer Room on Sunday is filled with 70+ children and youth for part of their Sunday School at 12:30 pm. - Kathy Stayton