GREEN LAKE, Wis. (BP) – The need is so great in Southeast Asia that the Hmong Baptist National Association increased its budget by $100,000 to help.
The motion to increase the budget to $280,000 was passed without discussion during the Sept. 27-30 annual gathering of the Southern Baptist fellowship group.
“We have 52 churches now,” Executive Director Tra Xiong told Baptist Press. “This year we plant two new churches and next year two or three new churches. Every year we have a vision to plant a new church.”
The additional money in the 2024 budget, all of which comes from Hmong churches, will help plant churches in the mountains of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, construct church buildings, install water systems, buy animals and pay for gas so leaders can travel throughout the regions.
“We have to help them,” Xiong said. “We need to support them; they are very poor. They don’t have water systems so [no indoor plumbing.] They don’t have a church building. We have to help the people without families who can’t work. We have to help the leaders.”
The Hmong National Fellowship has had its “Love and Care Ministry” for 20 years. Overseas they buy animals – cows, pigs, goats, chickens – for people who are disabled and who don’t have families to help them. The milk, eggs and offspring from the animals help provide financially for those with disabilities.
“We buy females so they can bear a child and give milk,” Xiong said. “That will bring an increase and support that person for a long time. We ask village to help with animal care.”
Hmong churches also are ready to help sister churches in the U.S.
“In the U.S. we help in other ways, like if the pastor pass away, Love and Care will help with the wife,” Xiong continued. “We just kind of love each other, care for each other and abiding together, that’s what Love and Care program is.”
The Hmong annual meeting starts with a Wednesday evening service. Small group conferences take place on Thursday. Business is taken care of on Friday, and Saturday closes with a final worship service.
The only business besides the budget this year was the election of officers:
President Chong Pao Thao, pastor of First Hmong Baptist Church in Broomfield, Colorado, a Denver suburb. Vice-President Pao Ly, pastor of First Hmong Baptist Church in Morganton, North Carolina. Treasurer Lydia Ly, a member of Follower of Christ Baptist Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. A secretary and moderator are to be elected at a later date.
With limited business discussions, the Hmong gathering majored on worship, small group conferences and fellowship for the 235 attendees at the Green Lake Christian Conference Center, perhaps a record high attendance. The theme was Do Not Fear, taken from Isaiah 41:10.
“We want the Christian not to fear to share the Gospel to the unchurched,” Xiong said in explaining the theme.
Pastor Daniel Yang led the Thursday pastors’ conference. Zer Vang led the women’s conference. Txerchai Chang led the men’s conference. Chris Vang led the youth conference.
Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention’s Executive Director Leo Endel discussed at the pastors’ conference what the Bible says about speaking in tongues.
“There has been some issue about that,” Xiong said. “I asked him to teach the pastors so they can go back to their church and teach their congregation what the Bible says, to help their congregation.”
Endel told the pastors, as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 14:2 “the person who speaks in a tongue is not speaking to people but to God. …”
“What Paul seems to be describing is a private experience that was being brought into corporate worship and causing controversary and confusion,” Endel said. “Paul argues that this is not allowable unless there is an interpreter. What is spoken in public worship should be understandable.”
To Baptist Press Endel said, “It is always an incredible blessing to be with my Hmong brothers and sisters and to see the way God is using them throughout the world to bring people to Jesus. Their story has the fingerprints of God all over it. He uniquely prepared them to take the Gospel to places that are very difficult for any other people. God called a people to Himself who never had a nation of their own to touch the nations of the world for Jesus!”
The men’s conference was about reaching the next generation. Pao Ly discussed the gap between the generations, Xiong said, explaining, “We have to reach between these two groups so we can do ministry together.”
Worship for the Hmong annual meeting was led by La Herr, pastor of Hmong Hope Community Baptist Church in Spring Lake Park, Minn.
Guest speakers included Pao Yang, liaison for Hmong Baptist churches in Vietnam; an IMB missionary in Thailand; Cha Herr, pastor of Hmong Baptist Church in Fresno, Calif.; Tonger Vang, pastor of First Hmong Baptist Church in Coon Rapids, Minn.; and outgoing President Chue Ger Herr pastor of First Hmong Baptist in Kansas City, Kan.
“I saw this year we have a very blessed time,” Xiong said. “Even the evenings going very smooth and true worship. I think this year God is blessing our conference and blessing everybody to understand it’s time to take HBNA churches to the next level.”
The 2024 annual meeting of the Hmong National Baptist Convention is set for Fresno, Calif., with dates and specific location to be announced later.