At the age of 27, Cing Sian Hoih became lead pastor of Galilee Assembly of God in Arbutus, Maryland, a Burmese church chartered last June as part of the AG’s International Ministry Network. Hoih currently is the youngest female lead pastor on record for the U.S. Assemblies of God
For the past decade, Burmese have constituted the largest group of refugees resettled in Maryland. In December, the Myanmar AG Fellowship, serving Burmese people living in America, became the newest official distinct ethnic/language group in the U.S. AG.
Hoih arrived in Maryland at the age of 22, and she immediately connected with a nascent local Assemblies of God group of followers. Within a year, she and a group of 10 other Burmese refugees began Galilee Assembly of God without a pastor. After seven months and much encouragement from churchgoers, Hoih accepted the role of lead pastor.
“I prayed and read the Bible, and when I went to a crusade, the speaker pointed directly at me and said I had the calling of Moses,” Hoih says.
Hoih says her ministry experience began as a worship team member at age 6 in Myanmar. With the help of Chin Khua Khai, president of the U.S. Myanmar AG Fellowship, as well as the International Ministry Network, Galilee AG officially joined the Assemblies of God in June 2019.
Khai, who is lead pastor of Myanmar Full Life Mission Church in Alhambra, California, says refugees moving to the U.S. need someone who knows their language and their culture to help them assimilate.
“Cing Hoih drove people to visit hospitals and offices and translated for them,” says Khai, 64. “She has a heart to help her own people with social services and a heart to help them grow spiritually.”
Hoih, whose father, Cin Sian Pau, is an AG pastor in Myanmar, completed her U.S. ordination last July. She has a Bible degree in theology from a ministry school in Malaysia.
According to Hoih, the biggest challenge Myanmar congregations in the U.S. face is the language gap between first-generation Burmese refugees and those born in the United States — who tend to only speak English.
“At church, we struggle to reach all ages,” Hoih says. “Because of this, we are planning to begin an English service.”
Although Galilee AG is a Burmese congregation, Hoih says a great deal of diversity exists among the attendees.
“In Myanmar we have so many dialects and so many tribes,” Hoih says. “We are a mixed group, but we come together as one. When we have occasions, it is lovely to see the variety of customs.”