The hope of every Christian is that in eternity we will wake up in the arms of Jesus, and see the Lord face to face. There he will gather all the faithful from every tribe and nation to himself. (In other words, heaven will be very diverse ethnically and denominationally). He will dry every tear from our eye. (Heaven is a place of great comfort). And he will be our God and we will be his people. (We will live in his presence for all time).
I am incredibly joyful today because I believe that the kingdom of heaven is breaking in to our own congregation. This morning I met with the Mizo-Chin people from Burma (Myanmar). Sixty two adults and children are coming to join us as members of Zion. While their language proficiency requires a separate service (to be held at 1:00 p.m. Sundays), their desire is to be part of the One Body of Christ with us.
In other words, they are not renters, they are members, with us, in the body of Christ which is Zion.
Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church began as an immigrant church over 150 years ago in Des Moines. The first sixty years we worshipped in German. An English service was added monthly to accommodate the needs of non-German speakers. When the Lusitania, a ship loaded with passengers was sunk by a German U-boat and the US began to contemplate entering the First World War, German language worship stopped.
We know something about being an immigrant church and worshipping in a foreign language. So we are wonderfully and beautifully suited to help our brothers and sisters acclimate to their new home in America.
Here are my notes from the meeting today (Saturday, March 12, 2011): Zion’s Board of Spiritual Oversight will meet with the Mizo leaders next Saturday.
Zion will begin a Mizo language service at 1:00 p.m. on March 20. This service is a permanent service and requires the sanctuary, some classrooms and the Fellowship Hall be reserved for the purposes of Christian worship and education until Jesus comes back. There is only one calendar conflict and the Mizo have graciously agreed to worship downstairs that day.
While the service will be in a particular language, visitors are welcome and encouraged to attend. The service is “open” to the rest of Zion and the public.
The Mizo understand that we are one body, united in Christ. They have no desire to be an island, but rather desire to be part of the greater Zion congregation.
The Mizo will be considered full members of Zion. Zion pastors will perform sacramental and pastoral acts. The Lead Pastor at Zion will be responsible for overall teaching, guidance, and direction in full consultation with the Mizo council. The Lead Pastor is the primary communication link with the new Mizo members for the immediate future.
The Mizo will be represented at the Board of Spiritual Oversight meetings by person/s of their choosing.
The Mizo are encouraged to pray and ask that God raise up a pastor from within their ranks. Zion pastors will oversee the training of this person. Outside programs may be used.
In the long term, and as financial resources allow, it is the desire of the Lead Pastor that the Mizo pastor be added to Zion’s staff with the intention that this pastor will serve the entire Zion congregation.
As financial resources allow, Zion will also contribute to the support of the missionary in Burma that the Mizo are currently supporting.
For the immediate future, tithes and offerings collected by the Mizo will be held in a separate account and not merged with Zion’s general fund. The Lead Pastor believes this will help to build trust as we seek to integrate into one body.
The Mizo will join with Zion in outreach to our neighborhood in the name of Jesus. This includes various Vacation Bible School and apartment complex outreaches.
Zion will help to build the spiritual leadership of the Mizo group. This will help create spiritual stability, worship leaders, and future BSO representatives for the Mizo.
Zion will help to establish ESL and citizenship classes at a time convenient for the Mizo.
Zion will assist in the establishment of bilingual Sunday School program for the Mizo on Sunday afternoons.
In addition to our current and on going work in the refugee/immigrant community in our neighborhood, Zion will especially help new Mizo families in our area to establish themselves.
The Lead Pastor, in cooperation with the Mizo, will advocate for the reunification of Mizo families who are already established in our area and now members of Zion.
The Mizo will help Zion clean the building. A certain area will be assigned to them.
The Mizo understand that they are invited to all Zion activities. Because of their current employment obligations, participation in Wednesday night activities will be somewhat limited, but their children will attend as able.
The Mizo have complete access to Zion’s building and van and will use the van on Sunday afternoons to transport people to church who live in Des Moines.
Building and van keys will be given to representatives of the Mizo’s choosing.
Zion will assist the Mizo in working with Merle Hay Funeral Home to establish a burial society.
As part of our busing ministry, Zion will make an extra effort to try and provide transportation to Samuelson Elementary for children in the Mizo group.
Thanks for reading. God bless. PJ
For more information about the Mizo, please see the following links:
Mizo news service:
The Chin people: