Guest Post: Melody Henessee
First, I want to thank each of you for all that you are doing to care for our Burmese children and their families.
I understand that we have about 130 people from Burma in our church body at present and we expect that number to double in the next year. There are at least 30 elementary-school age children in the class that I help teach. There are an additional 10-20 younger children; and I would guess another 10-20 older teens/young adults.
This is a wonderful ministry that God has brought to our doorstep.
Second, I really want to tell you what I see as the needs of these children (and their families in general):.
1. The Burmese children need to hear God’s word in English as well as their own languages. We must remember some of them are Christians; some are not. Some of them speak and understand English very well. Others are just learning! This is quite a challenge, as the people in the Laos congregation understand very well. John and Kay McMurphy are doing a wonderful job of teaching the adults, and we are just beginning to teach the children.
2. The Burmese children need to know that God loves them. They have come from very difficult circumstances and their lives are still not “easy.” They need to know that God – through this church family – loves them!
3. The Burmese children need to have their physical needs met. They need warm, good clothes that fit. They need food to eat – especially a snack when they come to church. They need chapstick, toothpaste, lotion, shampoo, soap and other necessities.
4. The Burmese children need to have fun in a safe, well-supervised and loving environment. Just like in all of our children’s Sunday School programs, these children need to have fun, to play games, earn prizes, sing songs, and look forward to coming back to church each Sunday.
With these goals in mind, we can help meet all of the needs of the Burmese children (and their parents) by becoming more active in the Burmese Ministry. We need our ENTIRE church family to see these children, to understand their needs and to help meet the needs of these precious children and their families. We need help! At present, we have two volunteers from the American congregation – Joe Stallings and myself – who help the five or six Burmese adults each Sunday.
We could use at least five more American volunteers to help in the class on Sunday
We need people:
* to help teach the lesson,
* play games with the children,
* bring them with a nutritious breakfast,
* donate prizes,
* lead them in crafts or fun activities, and help clean up.
But there is so much more that needs to be done for these children and families!
With the Burmese ministry (and, might I add, the Laos ministry…)
1. We have families who are looking for work and who need jobs.
Perhaps, we can help them find a job, take them to a job interview, read the help wanted ads to them, show them the bus lines. …
2. We have families who could become “homeless” if they can not keep or find a job. If they can not find a job and provide for their families, they become hopeless. Perhaps, some of them are living with friends and relatives now and are “homeless.” Perhaps, they need a place to stay for a week or a month, and meals made for them for a week and brought to them.
3. We have families who need to learn English to survive in this culture. If they learn to speak and to read and to write English, they will get and keep better jobs. Perhaps, we could offer to help more in the McMurphy’s ESL classes. If we had 10 or 20 more American volunteers in their ESL classes, think how much faster the adults could learn!
5. We have families who need food from a canned-food drive.
6. We have babies who need formula and diapers.
7. We have families who need blue jeans, warm shoes, heavy winter coats, long-sleeved shirts, gloves and so on. Maybe, a clothing drive…
8. We have Burmese families who need to be “sponsored” by our American church family and befriended.
9. We have families who need our help in so many ways. Perhaps, we need a liaison between the “English” congregation and the Burmese congregation to help facilitate and coordinate getting these needs met.
Thank you for listening and for caring.
In His Hands,