Monday, October 27, 2008

Missions at Home

Sometimes we have difficulty raising financial support for our ministry,because people don’t consider Chicago the “mission field”. Most people picture missionaries off in some remote jungle village overseas. This past week I was reminded exactly why we are engaged in missions here in North American urban centers.
In the past few months a group of Karen refugees from Myanmar (formerly Burma) started attending our church. Many have spent the last 10 years confined to refugee camps in Thailand, but are now living legally in our neighborhood in Chicago. Tim and I began tutoring one family that is in particular need. Once a week we go to this family’s apartment to build relationships with them and help the kids with homework.
This is much easier said than done; the language barrier is quite difficult to overcome. The Karen alphabet and number systems are entirely different. It’s pretty hard to teach math when the kids can’t even identify the numbers. And you can’t explain concepts, because they don’t understand English well enough yet. As I found myself getting frustrated with the difficulty in communication, I realized that this is why we make it possible for groups to do mission trips in Chicago.
When people travel internationally to do short-term mission trips, they often are unable to communicate with people of that culture. While they provide much needed manpower to impoverished groups, mission teams miss out on the opportunity to build relationships and hear their stories.

-Tim and Kelly Reed, CSM Chicago City Directors

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