MICHIGAN — More than 500 Adventist Zomi refugees from across the U.S. journeyed to the birthplace of Adventism for their sixth annual convention.
On June 28–30, participants gathered in a Baptist church near downtown Battle Creek from Zomi hotspots such as Tulsa, Okla.; Bowling Green, Ken.; Indianapolis, Orlando and Atlanta, as well as internationally from Burma and India, where many of them originated.
While in Battle Creek, the group visited the Historic Adventist Village where they learned about the church’s early pioneers. “I believe that a lot of people feel like at home, you know,” said Bowling Green resident, Thang Mang, a pioneer himself since he was one of the earliest Zomi settlers in the U.S. just a few years ago. “Even since you are a Seventh-day Adventist, when you get there [Battle Creek], wham, it is like home. My church starts from here!” The group also ventured to Berrien Springs, Mich., for a tour of Andrews University.
Suan Kim traveled from Tulsa where he also was one of the first U.S. Zomis, and said he’s grateful for conventions such as this one, which is vital to the tribe’s faith. “By gathering together, we are having a stronger faith, reviving what we have believed, and remembering where God has led us.”
Since many Zomis don’t usually have a place to worship in their language, Mang, who serves as president of the Zomi SDA USA organization, concurred that the convention is a special time for them. “A lot of [our] people cannot speak English. Even though they go to church, English church, they don't even understand one word. Maybe when they sing, the tune is the same, but we sing in Zomi. However, we don't understand the sermon because there’s no interpreter, so we want to help each other spiritually.”
At the convention, participants worshipped together and attended seminars aimed at educating members on areas such as American law, parenting, finance and acceptable church music. “It's not just spiritually encouraging,” Sb Cin, one of the leaders of Zomi SDA USA and who pastors the Grand Rapids and Battle Creek Zomi groups, said of the conference. “It helps with life.”
Attendees drew inspiration from speakers such as Dalian Haokip. After studying at India’s Spicer College and Pune University, Haokip finished his doctorate and launched a school, Blue Star Academy in northeastern India, which now has a student population of 1,500.
Photo caption: There are 30,000 Zomis in the U.S., of which 1,000 are Adventists.
“The convention is a great opportunity for members to get acquainted with each other and thus encourage one another to stand firm in the faith, lifting Christ, wherever they may be and whatsoever they may face in this battlefield, the sin-tainted earth, of the Great Controversy,” said youth leader, KhaiKhai Cin.
Photo credit: Courtesy Zomi SDA USA