On Nov. 16 at Glenwood Friends Meeting in Greensboro, 11 Montagnard men were ordained to spread the gospel.
Since the waning of the Vietnam War, the Montagnard people have sought freedom from their communist government. In fact, the Montagnards were allies with the United States during the Vietnam War.
“Commissioning this many pastors to serve the Montagnard population in North Carolina will strengthen the efforts of N.C. Baptists to impact lostness,” said Milton Hollifield Jr., executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), who was present at the service. “Through their Spirit-filled work in churches and communities both here and abroad, these couples will reach many lost Montagnard people with the gospel. They will also help converts become vibrant followers of Jesus Christ as they create disciple-making communities all around them.”
Originally from the central highlands of Vietnam and neighboring Cambodia, the Montagnard population began increasing in North Carolina, particularly in Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte.
BR photo by Mike Creswell
Baptist State Convention leaders Milton A. Hollifield Jr., top row left, and Chuck Register, top right, join with other leaders to pray over 11 Montagnard men who were ordained and their wives. The Nov. 16 service was a culmination of much study for the men and was held at Glenwood Friends Meeting House in Greensboro, where Montagnard Christian Bible Church meets.
In the mid-1980s, the refugees were resettling in these areas because of the number of Special Forces veterans living in the area, the supportive businesses, the numerous entry-level job opportunities and the close similarities of climate they knew from their native land.
Special programs for the re-education of camp detainees permitted Montagnard immigrants to relocate to America. Also, the Orderly Departure Program, an agreement between the United Nations and the Vietnamese government, relocated refugees so they might reunite with family members already residing in the U.S.
Then there are the Montagnard Christians who fled to escape the intense persecution of the Vietnamese government, which consisted of imprisonment, intimidation, fines, torture and death.
Every one of the men ordained in the Nov. 16 service, and some of their wives, suffered governmental persecution. Some were beaten and forced to work for the government while others fled to nearby Cambodia and lived in refugee camps.
Some hid in the jungle for nearly two decades and other men were put in prison several times – one for five years.
The hope for religious freedom was a great desire for the Montagnard Christians – a hope they found eventually in America.
The 11 Montagnard men – Nca Cam, Y Chuoih Kpor, Weh Ksor, Ajac Kpa, Y-Oal Nie, Y Dhieng Buan Krong, Y Nguan Bya, Y Simon Eban, Y Ghak Adrong, Hial Eban Y, Rcom Bleh – recently completed a rigorous three-year study of the Bible, Christian doctrine and pastoral leadership that was developed by K. ’Them Nfn, pastor of Highland Christian Church, a Montagnard Baptist congregation in Asheboro.
’Them Nfn started the first Montagnard church in Greensboro in 2003 and in 2008 he moved to the smaller Asheboro church so he and his son, Simon Touprong, also a minister, could focus on discipleship and pastoral training.
A few weeks before the ordination service, each of the men stood before an ordination counsel comprised of men representing BSC member churches. John Jarman, pastor of Rankin Baptist Church in Greensboro, and Steve Sells, director of missions for Randolph Baptist Association, said that they felt unworthy to question the faith of these men who were provided solid, theological training.
“Whoever aspires to the office of overseer desires a great and noble task. It is clear from 1 Timothy 3 that the pastor is to be known by his integrity and his Christian virtues,” said Sells, who preached the ordination sermon.
“He must demonstrate truth, honesty and irreproachable character. The church needs more men like you to surrender to the ministry. “In fact, we are all very fortunate that God has called and allowed each of you men to enter into the ministry because there are far too few who are willing to go.”
With the laying on of hands, the Montagnard men and their wives were then prayed over by all ordained pastors present to celebrate the special day. One of the 11 ordained men will return to Cambodia as a missionary, two will be starting new Montagnard churches in N.C., and the others are already serving as pastors of churches.
Before receiving their pastoral certificates from Milton Hollifield, he said, “The certificate you are about to receive represents that you will be a pastor of God’s people.
“Many of you have experienced difficulties in life and ministry because of your love and obedience to Christ and your willingness to proclaim the gospel of salvation. As you continue this journey, I pray for rich blessings upon your life, your family and your ministry.”
Montagnard Baptist churches in N.C.
Bunong Christian Church, Greensboro
Kroi Kong Plei Ku Church, Charlotte
Oyadao Baptist Church, Charlotte
Montagnard Christian Bible Church, Greensboro
Dega Christian Church, Charlotte
United Montagnard Christian Church, Greensboro
Sang Oi A Dai Mathio Anih, Charlotte
Jarai Baptist Church, New Bern
Ana Jarai Baptist Church, Charlotte
Montagnard Baptist Church, Raleigh
Highland Christian Church, Asheboro
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael McEwen is Biblical Recorder’s Content Editor.)