A Finnish business man confided to me that he loves to have Jorai people as employees. “They are honest and work hard”. When he asked a Jorai woman why they were like this, she simply replied: we follow Jesus. This intrigued him and led him to visit their Church. Last Sunday I met this Finnish man during an ordination service for Jorai pastor Lem Rachlan, who is now the first Alliance minister in Finland.
God has allowed these faithful Jorai people to come to the secular continent of Europe, where they share the light of the Gospel. They study hard to speak the new language and try to integrate and become relevant to the new culture. Actually, two of Lem’s daughters are now married to Finnish men.
Lem was born from animistic parents who sacrificed animals to please their gods. During his studies a teacher took him to a Church in 1972 and for the first time he heard about the Creator God who so loved the world that He sent his son to save mankind. A few years later the radical communist regime destroyed the church, imprisoned and killed the pastor and bibles were burned. Authorities in the area urged Lem to abandon his “American” faith. Led by fear he did, but the Holy Spirit kept urging him to return back to his heavenly Father. Finally, in 1985, the year he married, he and his wife surrendered to the Lord’s calling.
The following years they attended a house church and Lem worked as a nurse. But local authorities threatened him and because he didn’t bow to their will, he lost his job. Several times he was imprisoned as he started to evangelize and plant churches. Finally, Lem and his family were able to escape to Cambodia from where they were allowed to travel to Finland in 2005, together with other refugees from the same Jorai tribe. Several refugees came to Christ and today Lem is pastoring more than a hundred believers in two Churches in his new home-country.
During these years Lem developed a close relationship with Jorai Alliance pastors in the United States. Their leader, pastor Hendy Siu and fellow-minister Kim provided advise and coaching. Lem followed a theological study-program to improve his ministry. Finally the Alliance World Fellowship was asked to create a possibility for brother Rachlan to be ordained. That’s how I got involved. With a small delegation we visited Northern-Finland in 2013. A link was created with the National Church in France and more specifically with Vietnamese pastor Antoine Hoang. An ordaining committee was formed and on June 20, 2015, Lem Rachlan was approved to be a formal representative of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. This will help the Church in their communication with others, including the authorities in Finland.
Picture 1: The ordination committee, l-r: Hendy Siu, Lem Rachlan, Arie Verduijn, Antoine Hoang
Picture 2: Celebrating Lem Rachlan’s ordination