March 19, 2014

Sharing Love

            On Saturday morning we observed an extraordinary ministry for street children.  Started because of the compassionate vision of a young woman, Ma Wint, Ywama Baptist church welcomes children from the slums to a time of fun in a protected environment, where they gain personal hygiene skills and social literacy so that they are not consigned to hawk wares on the streets to help sustain the lives of their families. The congregation’s concern for the well-being of children who spend their days selling used plastic bags and other items for pennies has become a significant investment in their future.

            While at the church, they receive meals, care, respite from the streets, and embodied love by the teachers and other volunteers.  Because they are “off duty” while at the church, upon departing they receive 500 kyat (about fifty cents) so that they do not fall short on expected income. Additionally, the church provides transportation for these eager learners, and the program runs on both Saturday and Sunday.

            Last Christmas, about 200 children and their parents came to a special service at the church.  The parents were eager to learn more about the gracious leaders who were providing transformative opportunities for their children.  I saw many of the children sporting red t-shirts emblazoned with “I love X-Mas,” a gift from the church.
            At the beginning of a new school term, the Young Adult Committee helped the children with school registration fees, books, and school uniforms.  For those who could not go to school, the church provides ongoing courses lest they remain illiterate.  It is not surprising that the group who sustains this ministry chose to call it “Sharing Love.”

            As we entered the fellowship hall area of the church, we heard enthusiastic singing accompanied by a guitar.  Soon, singing turned to giggles as our students began waving and making faces and playing peek-a-boo with the children.  I am not sure which group was having more fun!
            One of the deacons led us to observe various classes as age-level appropriate instruction was underway.  He wanted us to understand that the church does not try to persuade these children to convert, as that would be disrespectful of their tradition (Buddhism); however, he said that by showing the love of Christ, the workers are bearing witness.
            This ministry takes seriously these words of Jesus: “When you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.”  That the workers see Christ in the distressing disguise of little children is a transforming initiative.

            Molly T. Marshall

            Central prepares women and men for seeking God, shaping church,and serving humanity.

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