Community Driven Program Launched by Chin Refugee Leaders

By Kristen Allen, Community Development Director

Pastor Run Tho of Myanmar Christian Church

delivers a message on the first day

One of my greatest joys in working cross-culturally is seeing amazing leaders rise up to address needs within their community. As the Director of Community Development, it is my privilege to work alongside men and women who are dedicated to using their God given abilities to transform their communities. My focus in the Adelante Empowerment Network, one of our community development initiatives, is empowering leaders to achieve their vision. There are beautiful stories of how vision is becoming reality and the Galilee Learning Center is just one example of the incredible capacity of the men and women who have immigrated to KCK.

My friend Lal is an entrepreneur in every sense of the word. She is always praying into how God can use her and her family and I enjoy how we share our dreams, encourage each other, and build upon our ideas together. Last year, Lal shared how God was laying on her heart to do something for the youth in her community and she started planning for a children's program to launch the summer of 2014.

Teacher Mawi Te leads the kids in a song

The vision of a children's program that focused on the Bible and provided Burmese and Chin language instruction couldn't be fulfilled without additional men and women who saw the need within the Chin

community and were willing to be a part of making it a reality. Leaders stepped forward and became the teachers needed to make the program run. One man volunteered his skills in leading worship, another decided to move his Burmese language program to Galilee Learning Center so he could help additional kids, and several Sunday school teachers from various Chin churches volunteered to develop the program, curriculum, and schedule.

GLC participants enjoy lunch at the end of the program day

I wish you all could spend a morning at Galilee Learning Center and see the hope that comes from a community focused on developing their youth. The sound of children's voices and laughter fills the air. Our space is full of praise songs as the group comes together to worship Jesus. It is beautiful and just a small glimpse of the blessings that God pours out when we work together.

The vision for Christian community development in our KCK community is being realized through Galilee Learning Center. It is community born, developed, and driven. We pray for more leaders to rise up and can't wait to see what issue God calls His people to address next. 

In other news:

  • The Bhutanese summer interns are reading with the Bhutanese LIT students every Thursday at the library. It's a fun way for the interns to invest in their community, practice leadership, and help make sure that the LIT kids don't lose any of the skills they worked so hard to gain during the school year.
  • Many of our English students have enjoyed seeing more clearly with the reading glasses provided by donors last month. It’s amazing what a difference it makes when they are learning to read and write. Thank you!
  • One of our English students passed the Citizenship test! We are excited to interview her in our class to give the other students hope of becoming a citizen one day in the near future!
  • Our thanks go out to Bright Ideas Signs & More for providing our eye-catching new sign in front of our building.  www.brightideassigns.com

Current needs:

  • Leaders In Training, our after-school leadership development and tutoring program, is getting excited about technology! We are looking for tablets that are new or in very good condition to use for learning activities during the 2014-2015 school year.  If you have one you would like to donate, please contact Kristen Maxwell at kristenm@missionadelante.org or Megan McDermott at meganm@missionadelante.org.

Important dates:

  • Summer break: July 1-5 No programs.
  • Observation Days: Tuesdays, July 8 & 15 (Bhutanese)/Thursdays, July 10 & 17 (Latino) 6:30-8:30  Have you wondered what all goes on around here on a typical evening of programming?  Here's your opportunity to come and see for yourself!  Come on up to 22 S. 18th Street, Kansas City, KS 66102.

Business, Ministry, and a Burmese Grocery Store!

Written by Kristen Allen, Director of Community Development

One of the most exciting things about living in the community is seeing how God is using different people to accomplish His purpose. I love hearing stories from our Bhutanese and Latino ministries and also learning from my friends first hand what it means to follow God and trust in His provision.

I’ve been blessed by a friendship with a local Burmese shop owner. I originally connected with her when I visited the Falam Chin church down the street from my house where another friend serves as the pastor. Our friendship blossomed over the next few months as we shared about our lives and dreams.

My friend had lived in the United States for several years before following God’s call to move her family to Kansas City and open an Asian grocery store. She and her husband borrowed a few thousand dollars from a relative, opened their store in July of 2012, and prayed into the vision God had for them.

There is something special when you visit the store. If you are like me and don’t speak Burmese or Falam Chin, you would still perceive the high level of customer service. Everyone is greeted, everyone receives a smile, and everyone is valued when they are shopping in the store. My friend and her husband see their store as an opportunity to reach the community for Jesus and as business grew, they knew that God was calling them to further expand their ministry.

My friend prayed, she fasted, and she asked God for a store just down the street that had parking, retail space, and the ability to expand to include a children’s outreach program so she could hire teachers to help children in the community improve in school and retain their native language. And God said no to that space. Undeterred, she continued to believe and pray for the dream that God gave their family.

One day I received a text from my friend asking me to come to the store. “Please hurry” it said and I wondered what was going on. When I arrived, I learned she had received a lease for an even better space. We both celebrated and thanked God for moving in amazing ways to make the expansion  of their business possible.

At the end of January 2014, their community pitched in and helped move their grocery store to the new location God provided them. This is where their dreams continue. Later this year they will open a restaurant to serve delicious Burmese dishes. Profit from grocery store and restaurant will help fund outreach programs to children in their community. The journey of following God continues and I can’t wait to see where it will take them next.

In other news:
  • A group of teens, kids, and volunteers braved the cold last Friday to attend Winter Jam! We had a blast and an amazing time worshiping God together!
  • The Bhutanese teens are really stepping up their leadership and have planned an "American Idol" formatted teens club this trimester. It’s going to be very fun, but also a lot for them to pull off. It’s fun to see them learning as they go, and growing in their creativity and vision for their own community.

Prayer requests:

  • Please pray for Bhutanese teenagers as they navigate how to honor their Hindu families while discovering their own personal faith in Jesus.
  • Please continue to pray for stable employment for our refugee friends.

Current needs:
  • The LIT (Leaders in Training) kids come straight from school each day so we try to have a healthy snack for them. We are looking for a few individuals or a small group to purchase (in bulk) some granola bars, goldfish, nutri-grain bars, or any other healthy snacks to bless the kids.  Please contact Megan if interested:  meganm@missionadelante.org.
Important dates:
  • Child Protection Meeting--Saturday, February 22 at 9:00 a.m. All volunteers that serve the kids and youth of Mission Adelante should attend.