Jonah and Memee Yang (pictured at right) moved to North Carolina in August to lead Hickory Hmong Mennonite Church, founded in 2004 by Chiaya Hadtasunsern. The Yangs left social work jobs in California with no promise of employment in Hickory.
Jonah is the President of Hmong Mennonite Church Missions in the US and Memee is president of the Women’s Division. Jonah and Memee have six children, three who are college-aged. In a joyful welcome service, Pai Moua (an elder’s wife) shared this tearful story:
Three years ago Pastor Chiaya left our congregation. I still cannot believe he and his family left us to be lost sheep, but I know God called him elsewhere.
We enjoyed seven years of joy and worshipping with Pastor Chiaya. We learned so much about the Mennonites and how to love others before ourselves. Very soon the love of Christ gave us fourteen families.
We thought we could find a new pastor in an instant, but soon learned, it wasn’t easy. After many months people started to lose faith in finding a pastor. I couldn’t believe our successful church was losing so many families and friends. I prayed every day for a shepherd to guide us. One night I couldn’t sleep, so I got up at 3 a.m. I held my Bible with my fingers between the pages and prayed.
“Lord…Father of Heaven and Earth. What have I done to deserve this pain and suffering? Our congregation needs you the most right now and it seems you have deserted your sheep. Now there are only three families. Even when the devil is trying to deceive us and tries to make us weak, I will not move but stand firm in your love and presence. Please answer my prayer.”
Then, I opened my Bible and came to Isaiah 54:1-8—
Sing and shout, even though you have never had children! The Lord has promised that you will have more children than someone married for a long time.
Make your tents larger! Spread out the tent pegs; fasten them firmly.
You and your descendants will take over the land of other nations. You will settle in towns that are now in ruins.
Don’t be afraid or ashamed and don’t be discouraged. You won’t be disappointed. Forget how sinful you were when you were young; stop feeling ashamed for being left a widow.
The Lord All-Powerful, the Holy God of Israel, rules all the earth. He is your Creator and husband, and he will rescue you.
You were like a young wife, brokenhearted and crying because her husband had divorced her. But the Lord your God says, “I am taking you back!
I rejected you for a while, but with love and tenderness I will embrace you again.
For a while, I turned away in furious anger. Now I will have mercy and love you forever! I, your protector and Lord, make this promise.”
Since I read this, Pastor Jonah finally decided to come. Then I prayed for the Lord to help Pastor Jonah sell his house in California, so he wouldn’t be burdened by bills. Within a few weeks, Pastor Jonah’s house sold. Now he is here. I feel our church can grow again.
Mai concluded with these words. “God answered my prayer. He can answer your prayers, too. She was right. Within two weeks, Memee Yang found a job and the church is filled with anticipation.