Chin Refugee Ministry Newsletter from Lewisville, Texas.
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New ShoesCRM: The Next Phase

Newsletter: December 2013

New direction.“Give a man a fish and you feed him for an hour.  Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” 

Chin Refugee Ministry was founded in 2007 as an emergency response to large numbers of Chin refugees from Burma coming to Lewisville. The sheer numbers overwhelmed the already existing Chin community who were barely able to care for themselves, much less these bedraggled newcomers from Malaysia. Chin who had been resettled in the US heard about jobs in Lewisville, and came to join their relatives. The resettlement agencies kept telling them that Lewisville was not set up for refugees, but they wanted to be with their village. Lewisville became the home of a “spontaneous refugee community” –the Chin themselves decided that Lewisville was a good place to settle. 

From the beginning, CRM’s mission has been the 3 E’s: Establish, Equip and Engage. But those early years were all about Establish – providing food, clothes and furniture, setting up ESL classes in their apartments, teaching ourselves about food stamps and Medicaid so they could have the basics while they were trying to get a job. We did Christmas for every family in the community. And a group of us started mentoring families – trying to help the community get out of the crisis they were in. We had no office, and we had no money – we depended on donations and worked out of the back of our cars.
In that process, we discovered that even Establish could not be done well without Engage. We came in gung-ho, only to be met with unfailing politeness but not much response. Because it took time for them to trust us enough to reveal that they needed help. As helpful as the things that we provided were, what they responded to the most was our persevering attempts at relationship even though we couldn’t speak each other’s language. In that process of developing trust, we discovered how much we needed to learn from them. And so mutuality and relationship are now an important part of everything we do.

But Equip is now a necessity. We’ll continue to help the approximately 100 new refugees we can expect each year for the next several years. But the needs of the Chin community are different as they have gotten larger and been here longer. It’s not so much about food and shelter – it’s about understanding the skills necessary not just to survive in Lewisville, but to thrive.

We want to expand our family mentoring program, both for families and for small groups.  We are developing a skills-based program for the mentors to help train the Chin in financial literacy, basic health care, school success for their students, etc. We want to put English tools in the hands of every Chin person– not just classes, but CD’s, videos, computer ESL, Rosetta Stone. We want to spend some money investing in the Chin community to raise the “quality” of the jobs they have by looking for vocational training opportunities. We want to stand with the young Chin leaders as they seek to help their peers navigate through the treacherous waters of American culture. We want to train young adults as Chin translators so that they can help their communities and be able to go on to college.

So we are moving into where we wanted to be all along – we want to Equip. To do that, we need help. And CRM itself has to change – to an active Board, to a different operating structure, to hiring staff, and to invite more people to join us as volunteers and financial contributors so that we can grow into this next phase. Hope you will join us in the exciting days ahead -you have a chance to make a real difference in the lives of the Chin people and be changed as well in the process.  


New ShoesRik Massengale to Chair Board

Rik HeadshotIn November, Rik agreed to serve as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Chin Refugee Ministry in Lewisville, Texas. You will be receiving an email from Rik in the next few days, explaining how he sees CRM, his role as chairman and his heart for this ministry. 
Rik Massengale was born in Jacksboro, Texas on February 6, 1947.  He graduated from Jacksboro High School in 1965.  Rik participated in football, basketball and golf from middle school through high school, and earned a scholarship to play golf at the University of Texas in Austin.  Rik played on the golf team for 4 years at UT and then turned professional and started playing on the PGA Tour in 1970.  He played 12 years on the PGA Tour but had to retire in 1982 because of a back injury.  During his time on the Tour, Rik won 3 PGA Tour events.
In 1983 Rik and his family moved to Dallas where Rik worked in the Commercial Real Estate Industry.  In 1984 Rik joined the Board of College Golf Fellowship where he served for 3 years and then in 1987 he became the Executive Director of College Golf Fellowship in addition to continue to serve on the board.  He led this ministry for 15 years.  His duties with CGF included raising funds for the entire ministry, developing schedules and budgets, developing outreach and discipleship programs for college golfers and coaches, planning and running conferences, visiting golf teams at their respective campuses, organizing and hosting 10-12 Banquets at college golf tournaments each year, recruiting and coordinating speakers from the PGA Tour to speak at the banquets, creating and distributing news letters to supporters and reporting all results to the Board of Directors.
In 2003 Rik returned to the Real Estate business.  In 2006 Rik was selected to serve as an Elder at The Village Church in Flower Mound.  He served on the Elder Board for 7 years and rolled off in 2013.
Rik has been married to his wife, Cindy, for 44 years.  He has 4 children, and 11 grandchildren, with one more on the way.  He is a covenant member of The Village Church Flower Mound.
Becky NelsonA Note from Our Director

For the past two years, we have asked small groups to provide Chin refugee newcomers a Christmas decorating party to celebrate their first Christmas in the U.S.  The Americans provide a tree and decorations, and some basic family gifts such as blankets, a set of glasses, oranges, etc.  
We start in November, collecting names of newcomer families, which is a job in itself.  We coordinate with other agencies to make sure that we are maximizing coverage across families.  Then we try to match American schedules with Chin work schedules and set up a translator.  It’s one of the most difficult ministries that we do!
Through illness, unexpected crisis in the life of a young Chin family, ice days, and more, this year has been no exception. But God is good.  And we have persevered.  And the reports coming in from Chin families who have had parties are full of such delight and gratitude.   
So thank you – thank you to Janet Peavler, who helped coordinate parties, to our translators, especially Benny, who went out in the coldest of weather to translate. Chin Christmas Party
And thank you to all of you small groups who have literally weathered the storm, rescheduled, and caught the Spirit of what Chin Refugee Ministry is about – walking together as brothers and sisters in Christ.
To the 21 Chin families who arrived in the U.S. this past year, it is our actions in these moments that say “We are glad you are here”.  You have made and are making Christmas 2013 a special one, and it is a joy to see us all together, celebrating the birth of our Savior.
Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Becky Nelson
Director, Chin Refugee Ministry
(972)  221-3249
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