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Chin Community Ministry of Lewisville, TX
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Merry Christmas from CCM!

Newsletter: Q4 2016

In the spirit of Christmas, CCM would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our volunteers, contributors, and staff for what they do to support the Chin community in Lewisville. 

Ka lawm tuk! (Thank you very much!)


Salvation Army Angel Tree Program

Thank you to Salvation Army and to all of you who participate in their Angel Tree program. You provided gifts to over 400 Chin newcomer kids under the age of 14. Thanks to Benny Sazul and Far Thang who called all the families to get a need and a want, and American sizes. Chin newcomers are not familiar with American sizes, so this is not an easy task.  

And newcomer families almost universally ask for a coat and diapers for both a need and a want. So Far and Benny add in gifts that they think the kids might enjoy. Then our staff goes to Salvation Army and gets the gifts, then Far and Benny call the families to come get the gifts at our office. We all enjoy playing Santa Claus!

 

First Christmas in the United States Program

CCM has its own Christmas tradition—we call it "First Christmas in the US." Mitch Gray of Rockpointe Church coordinates it from the American side and this year Benny Sazul coordinated it from the Chin side. Volunteers from Rockpointe and other churches sign up to participate.

Benny then gives them information on a Chin family that has just arrived this year and so this will be their first Christmas in the US. The Americans provide a small tree with decorations, and gifts especially for the adults and teens who are not covered in the Salvation Army program.  

Benny and Far translate for as many of them as they can as the families decorate the tree together, read the Christmas story together and then pray together for the many gifts needed that American money can't buy—safety for family back home, jobs, ability to learn English, school success.  And in turn, the Chin family prays for the Americans—because they too need God's gifts that cannot be purchased.  

Because of your support we were able to do 33 parties this year! What a wonderful Christmas blessing!
 

Thank You to Our Mentors

Our mentors celebrate Christmas with their families many different ways. Some invite the Chin family to their homes, some go to their Chin family home, some buy presents for the kids, some buy presents for everybody—but nearly all celebrate Christmas in some way with their families. Thank you mentors for the ways you walk with your Chin families! You make such a difference in the lives of the Chin community!
 

Thank You to the Churches and Individuals Who Support Us Financially

We would not be able to do anything we do without the churches and individuals who support us financially. Thank you! We pray God's blessings on you as you share your resources with our Chin brothers and sisters in Christ.

Please see the story of Siang Ling and Van Hlawn as an example of how your contribution has helped this Chin family.

“If I can find a job and earn money I will send for you…”
 

Christmas, Chin Style
By Becky Nelson, Executive Director

Christmas is one of the most important holidays for the Chin people. They identify with many of the stories surrounding the birth of Jesus. Jesus was born to a family forced to leave their home because of the wicked government of the day who even ordered babies to be killed trying to protect his power. But most of all they identify with the hope that Jesus brings to them. Jesus' birth, death and resurrection prove that God is stronger than any government and their hope is in him. So it is a religious holiday for them.  They are not offended by Santa Claus, but it has little meaning for most Chin- it is American, not for the Chin.  For reflections on the difference between Christmas in Chin State and in the United States, read this article by a Chin young man:

Christmas Celebration Among Chin Christians in Myanmar

The Chin celebration of Christmas both in Chin State and here begins with caroling. In the Chin villages, the young people will go to every house in the village to sing Christmas carols to them. And they continue that tradition here in the US. They will also be decorating their churches. In the US, lights, a Christmas tree, and other American decorations are used to decorate the church.  In Benny's village in Chin State,  they would cut branches from the pine trees and banana trees in the mountains around them to decorate with. They did not have ornaments, but could buy balloons in Hakha, their capital city, and so they used balloons to add color to the branches.  

Christmas Day in both Chin State and the US, the families gather at the church for an all day celebration that begins anywhere from 10-noon. It is not considered a single family holiday— it is a holiday for the church family. They have a worship service with many solos and "group songs." Their children perform, they often act out the Christmas story. And then they have a big dinner together.  In Chin State, they kill a pig or a cow and feast on the meat, which is not something they have every day. In the US, they also have pork, beef, chicken, sometimes quail, and one church is having duck this year.

In Burma, there is not the tradition of exchanging gifts because people are too poor to buy gifts. But in the US, each family who can afford it brings a gift, such as a set of glasses, a nice blanket, an iron—very practical gifts. Each gift is given a number. And each family registers. All the names of the family are supposedly put in a hat and the emcee draws out a name and that person receives gift #1.

(Becky's note:  I say supposedly, because I attended this event several years in a row and my name was called every time.  And I noticed that most of the names that were called were newcomers. If a young single man receives an iron, it is not considered a problem but rather great fun. And he will find someone to give the gift to, if he can't use it.)  Finally, at about 10:00 pm, the celebration ends. And much of the joy comes from spending all that time with your village people to celebrate such an important day—the birthday of Jesus. 
Copyright © 2016 Chin Community Ministry, All rights reserved.


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