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In January of this year, DBA hosted the annual Tax Seminar at Westside Baptist Church, Lewisville. I had invited our Chin pastors to the seminar and was excited that two Chin pastors attended for the first time. One of the pastors who came has been in the states for over 10 years and the other has lived here less than three years. Talking with them opened my eyes to some of the difficulties they faced fleeing persecution in their country and moving to America.
I was reminded that the first obstacle they faced was learning to speak and understand English. Gaining an understanding of how to function in our society was difficult as well: paying bills, enrolling children in school, and buying groceries with a new currency, are just a few of the daily challenges they experienced. Parents attempting to communicate with teachers and school administrators often needed their children to serve as interpreters. Becky Nelson, Director of the Chin Community Ministry, shared with me that much of their time is spent explaining the meaning and purpose of official documents. It is a daunting task and one in which the ministry is constantly in search of mentors and helpers.
Just as families must learn to navigate the legalities of our country, Chin congregations also have challenges that must be met. Finding a location to meet and worship, dealing with lease agreements, and filling out the appropriate tax forms are often difficult and confusing tasks. DBA has become a resource in some of these areas. Our financial secretary, Lora Thomas, has met with some of the Chin leadership and assisted them with paperwork and financial issues. I have also spent time with the Chin pastors helping them navigate the process of applying for a 501(c3). Members of churches in our association have also provided consultations regarding bookkeeping and taxes.
I am so grateful to be part of an association of churches willing to provide help to our Chin brothers and sisters as they adjust to a new culture. It is much better to cooperate together in an association than to go it alone. Let me encourage you to be sensitive to those who are new to our country offering help, understanding and compassion whenever possible – being the hands and feet of Jesus.