A church home for Burmese refugees in Coffs Harbour

09 Sep 2022

Image: YourChurch host a lunch for newcomers in the Burmese community.

By Emily Ferguson

Cing didn’t set out to plant a church. She didn’t even want to. She said “no” when asked.

But the local Burmese refugees she had befriended, led to Christ and baptised insisted she start one. And a year later, in February 2020, she found herself phoning every church in Coffs Harbour searching for meeting space for their young Burmese community to continue to grow up in Christ.

Mark Deutschmann, Pastor at YourChurch, was one of only two churches to return her call.

“I showed her through our two church buildings and our eldership group went, ‘You know what, the gospel is free – we’d like to bless these guys and not charge’. Most are very young in their faith and they’ve now grown from the kids’ church building into the main building – they come in after us and have a service between 12.30 until 2.30 or 3 o’clock. Part of their service is that afterwards they always have a meal together.”

For Cing and the Burmese community she leads, YourChurch is a vehicle of God’s blessing.

“In Australia, everyone is busy with family, with churches – they have a lot of activities,” Cing shared. “I understand that so I’m not disappointed. But Pastor Mark didn’t hesitate – maybe God spoke to his heart especially to accept us. He was the one chosen by God to look after us. We are so blessed by him.”

Five YourChurch congregation members also take turns sharing a brief communion message in the Burmese service which is interpreted by Cing, and two of them, William and Jean, lead the kids’ group each week.

“They noticed how busy I was running around looking after the kids and then coming back and looking after their parents and one day they said, ‘Ok we’re sitting in the adult group and we don’t even understand – why don’t we look after the kids?’

“God answered my prayer. I had been so exhausted every Sunday looking after two groups, and from that time on it was so beautiful. William and Jean relieved me a lot and my burden.”

But it’s not only the Burmese community who are blessed by the relationship between the two churches.

“We certainly are being blessed by them, well and truly,” Mark said. “The people are loving, generous and humble. They surprised us after church recently when they brought in a massive amount of soup which fed our congregation. The guys had caught the fish themselves on the Coffs Harbour jetty. It was incredible.”

Read more stories from churches of Christ in NSW & ACT HERE