Jane Parker discovered that she can be a missionary in her own town. Have you found your passion in God's kingdom?
After I retired from 30 years as a classroom teacher, I was substituting at a middle school one day when I heard a Hispanic student call an Asian student, "Hey, Chin!" At that time, I didn't know anything about the Burmese, Christian minority people of Chin State from northwestern Burma (now Myanmar). I thought the offending student was calling his classmate, "Chin," short for China or Chinese. My reaction was to tell the Hispanic student, "That was rude. He has a name and I'm sure he would prefer that you use it."
After working at that middle school for a while, I had many chances to observe this new group of ESL (English as a Second Language) students. In fact, I was fortunate to spend several days in the ESL classroom, substituting for their teacher (who had to miss class for numerous days of trainings and meetings). One day, I stopped by her room and asked her to tell me the background of these children. She gave me a rough sketch, but said I really needed to talk to Becky Nelson, the Director of the Chin Community Ministry (CCM) to find out more about these people and how I could help them.
After one meeting with Becky, I was SOLD! All my life I had wanted to be a missionary, and even though these people were already Christian, I saw an opportunity to serve Christ by walking with these people who were struggling to adapt to a new country. I could learn about a foreign people, language and culture without leaving Lewisville! The programs and opportunities for helping this group of humble, poverty-stricken and hard-working over (90% employed) people were endless.
I started asking members of my Sunday School class to donate items to the Chin that I could deliver to Becky at their temporary storage building at First Baptists Church of Flower Mound (the first church of this area to come to the aid of this Burmese ethnic minority that was escaping religious, ethnic and political persecution in their home country). The United Nations has been bringing them over to the U.S. to two cities, Indianapolis and Dallas for the past 10 years.
I would meet with Becky on a pretty regular basis in order to keep current on their needs so that I could ask for donations for whatever they needed; what types of furniture for new comers, diapers for newborns, clothes for all ages, toilet plungers (to avoid a $35 charge from the apartment management for each plunging). Becky asked me if I wanted to serve on the board and I eagerly accepted. As a board member, I was able to "keep my finger on the pulse" of the Chin and could find out about CCM activities for helping them. I became involved in the summer reading program, became a family mentor, tutor and continued to solicit donations from my Sunday School class members.
So far, Nancy and Steve Ferguson and Karen and Dan Chraska have volunteered as family mentors. Cathy Weiskopf has become a tutor and has become involved in her students' family and members like Julia Mayes have begun mentoring Chin students at Hedrick Middle and Elementary Schools. Through Trade Days, I have secured tons of clothes to donate to "share days" for the CCM through the suggestion of Suzanne Sutton, who also taught a missions lessons one summer to our children of Trietsch VBS about the Chin Ministry.
My desire is for more members of Trietsch to begin to give their time and donations of goods to these people who need and desire American families to walk with them and teach them how to become good American citizens. Your life will become enriched through your relationship with the Chin. I am extremely proud of my high school senior at LHS, Sui Caan, who will be graduating in just a few short months. She will be living on campus at TWU next year as a result of a volleyball scholarship. Her younger sister (and youngest in the family), Zing Par will be a junior. It won't be long before I will be adopting a new family. While I intend to keep in touch with this family, I look forward to becoming part of a new one.
I hope you will join me in this missionary work in your own back yard. I know your lives will become enriched by the relationships you will form. Christ will lead you to the area of the mission where He wants you to serve. If you haven't taken the "Spiritual Gifts" inventory yet, I encourage you to do so! Find your place in God's kingdom.
You can take the Spiritual Gifts inventory and join the next Discover Spiritual Gifts class here.