The year 2020 was difficult for churches across the nation. With the emergence of COVID-19 many members chose to stay home and worship online, hoping to hinder the virus’ spread through social distancing. Outreach ministries were put on hold and gatherings were suspended.
Despite Coronavirus concerns, that year a small group of Burmese immigrants began gathering for worship and today, Farm Chin Baptist Church (FCBC) is a growing community seeking to make a Kingdom impact in and around Purdy, Missouri.
Van Neih Bik, pastor of FCBC, said the church was started by a few Christian families from the Chin ethnic group that decided to meet for Bible study and prayer.
“They knew the importance of meeting and gathering and worshiping God, so they started meeting in July 2020,” Bik explained. “A few families gathered in a garage, and they prayed and studied the Word together. Then other families joined and they kept joining that group, and that’s how it started getting bigger.”
FCBC currently meets for worship at First Baptist Church Purdy, but plans to accommodate more growth by moving to a new building currently under construction.
Omar Segovia, multiplying churches missionary with the Missouri Baptist Convention, noted that, like many ethnic pockets in Missouri, the Chin community came to the U.S. as refugees of ongoing internal conflicts in Myanmar. When a group settled in the Purdy-Monett area, they bought land and started a chicken farm with three buildings.
“There are four now, because the fourth one became a worship center,” Segovia said. “They officially called themselves Farm Chin Church.”
In early 2021 Farm Chin deacons reached out to Bik — then a student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky — asking if he would consider moving to Missouri to pastor their congregation. He accepted the call that March.
Less than three years later, Bik reported Farm Chin now has more than 350 members and is “rapidly growing.”
Much of the growth has been the result of Bik’s focus on youth ministry. Rather than preaching only in the Chin dialect — spoken by most adults at FCBC — the young pastor leads additional Bible studies, worship nights and discipleship groups in English, the younger generation’s preferred language.
During youth camp this year Bik asked church members to take shifts making sure the students were continuously prayed for, day and night, all week long.
“The Holy Spirit just worked tremendously,” he reported. “Our youth started crying. They started confessing their sin. They started repenting.”
The following Sunday Bik baptized 26 new followers of Christ in a river near the church.
Raising up a new generation of church leaders
A Chin refugee himself, Bik’s family immigrated to the U.S. in 2008. He remembered the difficulty of adjusting to a new home as a young teenager.
“I didn’t know how to speak English, I didn’t know how to write and I had no friends. But God has been faithful to us.”
Now Bik is focused on raising up a new generation of church leaders and disciple-makers who will declare the faithfulness of God to others. But his vision is not limited to just the Chin people.
“We may come from different states, different countries, different backgrounds, but those who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ — we’re all one family,” Bik declared. “Our mission is the same. Our goal and our purpose is the same: to live for the glory of God and to expand God’s Kingdom. God wants to use every ethnicity. That is His goal.
“Just like God has used American people mightily, God can also use immigrant refugees for His Kingdom.”