Category Archives: Q-R
Story of Knaw Bawk
Knaw Bawk [Nah Baw] grew up in a Christian home. His mother and father were believers in Jesus. His father was a Burmese soldier. His home in the Kachin province has a strong Christian presence, at one time that province was 100% Christian. This is now problematic with a junta dictatorship whose stated purpose is to have one language, one country and one religion, Buddhism.
Knaw Bawk attended elementary and high school in Myitkyina his home town (marked with an “A” on the map). During his early years, his family feared for the safety of his older sister so she sought refuge at the Australian embassy and relocated there almost 26 years ago. Knaw Bawk attended college after high school completing four years while still living in the Kachin state.
During his young years Knaw Bawk began music lessons and learned to play the piano and violin. As a young man he and his friends played music for different local and regional events and activities. Even though Knaw Bawk was young in his Christian faith, he took a stand that led flight from Myanmar. It seems their village had completed the construction of a new Buddhist temple. A village leader came to him and asked him to play the violin for a folk festival that included a dedication ceremony of the temple. Knaw Bawk refused on religious grounds. The leader came to him a second and third time. The third time she said she could no longer assure his safety. With such a not-so-veiled threat Knaw Bawk knew he had to leave.
So in 2004 he traveled with a Kachin businessman south, to the Chin province of Burma and then west to the India border trading town, called Tia. After a couple of months, he moved to New Delhi, India where he began an 8 year exile. While in New Delhi he became active in the “All Kachin Student and Youth Union”. He took a job as a journalist working with the Mizzima news organization (www.mizzima.com). He translated stories from English into Burmese for ex-patriot Burmese who lived in India and elsewhere.
Meanwhile back in Myanmar, Knaw Bawk’s mother and younger brother had to also flee the Kachin province. They were accepted as refugees in Japan. While his aging father and younger sister were able to remain in Myitkyina. At this time this sister is in a refugee camp on the border of Kachin and China and the father is at home.
A bright joy came into Knaw Bawk’s life when he met Roi Ji for the first time in 2003 in New Delhi, India. They began dating, about the same time Knaw Bawk sensed a call to ministry. He began pastoring, while still working as a journalist, and started Bible College. He graduated in 2007 and the family (for now they had a son) received news that they had been accepted as refugees to the United States.
When Knaw Bawk’s family first came to the U.S. they were settled in New York City. They stayed there 3 weeks and with the encouragement of High Point friends relocated to the Triad. They said they like High Point, the climate and atmosphere is closer to their home state and this is where they want to be. Knaw Bawk is now the preacher of our Burmese language service, he is 36 years old and works at a local factory. Their son, Samuel attends the Stanley preschool on Brentwood and Roi Ji works at High Point University.
Story of Roi Ji.
Roi Ji [Reggie] left the Kachin state of Myanmar at age 26. She has two brothers and two sisters. She grew up in Burma, received her elementary, high school and college education before fleeing the country.
After college Roi Ji got a job with World Concern (NGO). The task of her team was to educate villagers regarding HIV. They would travel to different towns and talk about the prevention of this disease. During such discussions they would encourage women to oppose sexual harassment, promiscuity and teach them to avoid rape where they could be endangered with HIV.
One village they visited had a large military base nearby. The commandant of the village built a local bar complete with music videos, free-flowing liquor and beautiful women. While visiting that village Roi Ji spoke out against the sexual harassment and even rape associated with this bar. The next day the NGO team moved on to another village with their training sessions, but the villagers burned the bar to the ground.
Government military investigators went to Roi Ji’s home and to her World Concern leaders making inquiries about her. Her supervisor at World Concern said, we are non-partisan, we can’t help you, you need to leave. Roi Ji had to flee her home country. She traveled through Tia to New Delhi to start life as a exile from Burma.
While in New Delhi she took a position as the leader of the “Burmese Women of New Delhi”. Then she met Knaw Bawk and their story continues together.
I invite you to meet this highly educated couple, they understand English at 90-95%, Knaw Bawk has a lot of insight and wisdom and Roi Ji’s British accent is delightful.
The Burmese teaching team at First Wesleyan Church were honored with gifts of Karen (Burmese) clothes from the Pa Klay and Gree family. Here is a picture of the workers posing with the clothes. On the right is Roger Richardson, then Gree, Marcia Jobe and John McMurphy. Roger teaches beginner ESL, Marcia advanced ESL and John teaches a Bible study for English speaking Burmese.
Van Lian has been in the U.S. for about 3 years. When I first met he and his son, Puh Yah, I learned that four more members of his family were still in Burma. Van Lian used to attend our church on a regular basis and then moved closer to his work in Rockingham. Three weeks ago his wife and children arrived. The whole family is now living in High Point and Van Lian is commuting to work. Welcome to America, Van Lian family.
Frosintina called and she started a new job working for a laundry service that cleans and folds medical scrubs. She also said that the local community college will evaluate her Burmese high school grades for admission into their school. She has had thoughts of being a nurse.
Last week in Sunday school, the English speaking Burmese class, took a “field trip” to see the cross in our church sanctuary. I had explained the purpose of the nails and ribbons. Ray Wah was along and he went right up to the cross and put in three nails. He has 3 relatives he will lift up in prayer for their salvation.
One Kiss and his household of 9 arrived a couple of weeks ago. He is the father of 7 children (4 boys and 3 girls). In addition to his wife, her mother arrived with them. They live on north Johnson street. One Kiss understands English fairly well and can converse. He attended Bible college for three years in Burma. This family is S’gaw Karen. I’ll try to get a picture.
Ed Winslow and Joe Stallings have been organizing children to attend the East District Wesleyan camp. They tell me we have 17 Burmese children and two Burmese counselors going from our church. We are extremely grateful for the scholarships provided for these campers by interested friends in the church.
As Rosanmang and Frosintina began planning their wedding last January, Turin, who lives in Maryland, helped Rosan in the discussions with the bride’s family. Turin was at the wedding.
Sunday I was blessed by the arrival of K’naw Bawh [kay nah bawh] (father) and Roi Ji [Reggie] (mother), who just moved to High Point from the Bronx, NY. This family from Burma secondarily migrated to North Carolina. They decided the Triad region was more like their home state, Kachin, Myanmar, so they moved here. They participated in our Sunday school class and were engaged in our current Bible study in the book of Acts. They have one son, Samuel. Flash forward eight months.
This week I have been working on two interesting projects. Peng Len Thakbal and his family desire to buy a home. They have initiated pre-approval from the bank and hope to make an offer on a home from a member of our church next week. Roger Richardson has been a great help in this process. The Thakbals are also anticipating the wedding of their daughter, Frosintina, to Rosen on June 25 in Rockville, Maryland.
Also the CPAS concerts have funded the Refugee Welcome Network. The current project of the network is to provide transportation for five High Point fathers to and from Lumberton, NC (260 miles round trip) each week. Saw Ler Phaw is on the fast track to get his drivers license. We hope to provide him with training for two hours a day this next week. We have obtained a Voyager van which will allow these fathers, who work for Mountaire Chicken to be home each weekend instead of just every other weekend for only 30 hours. Savy will spend some time in Lumberton teaching Saw Ler Paw to drive.
This van will be very helpful in Lumberton as well. Some of the men have tried to ride their bikes to work (instead of company provided buses) and it is very dangerous. A Karenni man who had moved from Texas to Lumberton was struck by a car and after a period of hospitalization succumbed to the sustained injuries several weeks ago. A second man also was killed in a bicycle accident. More drivers are needed to transport some 250 Burmese throughout Lumberton in a safe fashion.
This weekend an entourage of Matupi visitors from Baltimore visited High Point. Among the visitors was Turin. He is a lay preacher that assists at his Silver Springs congregation with the Matupi Chin people. He preached first in Burmese and then in Hahka, ministering the word to the 30 people that attend the FWC Sunday morning Burmese language worship service. Turin first came to the United States after the 1988 Burmese student uprising. He attended a Georgetown conference for the dissidents. He had to flee his country to India where he eventually obtained political asylum status and could come to the United States. He works for a Maryland tool manufacturer in their distribution department.
Others who visited were two fathers named Yung Uko and Aung Oo and Rosen. Rosen is a boyfriend of Frosintina, one of the young ladies in our church. Below is a picture of the group with their hosts, Peng Len, Nu Nu and Sang Bik.
Last fall we wrote about Ray Wah and he was featured at Compassionate Performing Arts Concert. Well now we have an update on his family story. Here is a picture of Rah Wah with is brothers and sisters. All the children are in High Point except for an older married brother who is in Australia (Htun Lah Aye). From Left to Right are Esther, Ray Wah, Naw Mu Pluo, Ma Nay Htun, and Cal Lay Ve. Rah Wah and Ma Nay Htun have been in the states for almost two years so they are helping to get the new arrival settled in. Naw Mu Pluo’s brother-in-law has been in the states for almost a year. His name is Kyaw Eh Su.
Ray Wah began a journey of exile when he was nine years old (June, 1984). His parents moved the family from their home state of Karen, Burma because the military dictator of the country “beat the Karen people and fought them constantly”. Ray Wah lived in the Mae La Camp on the Thailand border for 25 years. Paw Mu Paw, Ray Wah’s wife lived in the refugee camp for 10 years. They met and were married and gave birth to a son and two daughters at the camp. Their names are Sah K’lay, Bu Gay, and Byaw Ku Paw.
In 1994 under the ministry of Dr. Simon their pastor and also a refugee, Ray Wah gave his heart to the Lord and became a believer. Ray Wah worked in the refugee camp hospital as a Level III supervisor. When they left the camp in 2007 there were over 9,000 people at the Mae La Camp (one of 9 large refugee camps in Thailand). Ray Wah said that for a family their size they received 51 kilos of rice a month. They could obtain some beans, cooking oil, chile peppers and salt. They did not get any meat.
On June 23, 2007 Ray Wah and his wife were placed by World Relief in High Point, NC. He and his wife have worked hard on the enculturation process, they can understand and communicate in English, have moved into a rental home and Ray Wah has a steady job at the Providence Place nursing home in High Point. On May 23, 2008, Paw Mu Paw gave birth to another son, David. About three months ago they joined First Wesleyan Church as some of our earliest Burmese church members. Ray Wah is 36 years old and his wife is 31.
Ray Wah’s mother died in 1989 and his father died last year while they were still in the Mae Lae camp. Ray Wah has an older brother, Htun Lah Aye, and family that are settled in Australia. Ray Wah’s sister, Ma Nay Htun, lives in High Point with her family. Ray Wah has a brother named Cal Lay Ve (age 28) still in the Mae La camp with a wife and children. He has a married sister, Naw Mu Pluo who has two children in the camp and Ray Wah has a young sister, Esther (14 years) also in the camp. Ray Wah is hoping to see the rest of his family make it to North Carolina real soon.
Here is a 2009 movie about Rah Wah.
Here is 2010 update about Rah Wah’s family.
Wednesday night the Thakbal’s threw a birthday bash for Frosintina. In celebration of her 19th birthday and their two year anniversary of their arrival in America they had a cook-out. Peng Len and Nu Nu spent all day cooking and preparing. There were about 25 Chin and Kachin in attendance. The evening began with prayer, a song, greetings by Biak, a salvation challenge by Peng Len, a few words by myself and a sermon by Es Lu Lu. Then we had food. I met two new Mizo Chin men at the party and a cousin of Frosintina, Rosen, drove down from Baltimore, MD to help celebrate.
Last Sunday we had a special treat in our Lao worship service. We had Maung Sein, a veteran preacher (25 years) from the Karen state of Burma fill the pulpit. He preached in Karen and Burmese and our Lao folks were gracious to forego translation in Lao.
He and his wife were visiting High Point from Atlanta, Georgia. Here is a picture of him and his wife on the platform with Pastor Inthava and our translators, Philip Saw and Bah Blue. Maung Sein is the uncle of three of our parishioners: Ray Wah, Ma Nay and Kyawesue. Maung Seing means Diamond in Karen and his wife’s name is Tha Wee (Singer). They have three teenage children. They have been in the United States for about a month.