Growing Up

3 02 2014


I just got back yesterday from a trip to Dallas, Texas, where we worked with Bhutanese Refugees. These are always fantastic trips! We have teamed up with Chris & Cheryl Read who have volunteered much time and effort to help the Bhutanese out. We took a total of eight people with us on this particular trip. We drove down to Dallas on Friday afternoon and arrived to a great ethnic meal cooked by our Bhutanese friends. The next day we spent going to different apartments to meet new Bhutanese refugees, many of whom have only been in the US for less than three months. Our desire was twofold: 1. to begin relationships with these new folks and connect them to the local Bhutanese Christian community and 2. to encourage our fellow Bhutanese workers to do outreach themselves.

The last time that we went to Dallas, we went over to new people’s apartments bearing many gifts to help them get started on their new life in America. I was pleasantly surprised to find out when we arrived this time, that the Bhutanese believers did not want us to bring any gifts with us at all. Their reasoning was that the gifts only serve to spoil the people. They have seen that all of these well-intentioned ministries have created a culture of enablement. Instead, we were just going to bring ourselves and God’s love. I see this as a positive sign that the Bhutanese Christian community is maturing in their faith. They are growing up into a wonderful church, and it is encouraging to see.

It really was an incredible weekend. We ministered to many people by praying for them and just hearing their remarkable stories of living in a refugee camp for twenty years. We saw many connections made between Bhutanese Christians and Bhutanese Hindus. We were also blessed to get to encourage a new church plant of about 40 Bhutanese. We were able to take their youth out bowling and to eat pizza. We intended to worship with them on Sunday morning, but the weather forced us to leave before the service started.

Please, email me if you are interested in this work. Our intention is to take about three trips to Dallas per year.

The Unreached Among Us

16 04 2012

I had the great pleasure of speaking with Chris Read on the phone late last week. He and his wife, Cheryl, are working with a large group of refugees from the country of Bhutan. Since 1989, the heavily Buddhist government has cracked down on anything that is not Buddhist, including Nepali Hindus and Bhutanese Christians. According to the book, Operation World by Jason Mandryk, “…Proselytism and incitement to convert are illegal. Church buildings are not allowed, and Christians are not privy to many of the state benefits available to Buddhists, such as free education.” Because of this persecution by the government, led by King Wangchuk, many people have been displaced out of the country with a large population of them finding themselves in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

In many cases, the first friend that a Bhutanese refugee will meet once they enter the United States is Chris or Cheryl Read. Chris and Cheryl are both very normal people who have an exceptional, Godly love for the refugees from Bhutan. Both of them are volunteers and are striving their best to put food on the table and support their own children through college. Cheryl is a school teacher, and Chris works for a telephone company. Yet in their “spare” time they reach out to a people that are hurting and helpless. In my book, they are heroes, and I am excited about the possibility of our church working with them and the newly planted First Bhutanese Baptist Church.

It is hard to imagine that just 5 hours away from us, God has provided us with an unreached people group. We certainly live in a day of blessing – a day when God has said that if His people will not go, He will bring the nations to them. God could have just decided to forget about us, because of our disobedience. We would have deserved just that, but instead, right here in Fort Smith, Arkansas, we have people from Vietnam, Laos, Mexico, Peru, Guatemala, India, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Korea, etc. As believers, we must open our eyes! The unreached people groups of the world are living among us, and we cannot afford to waste this opportunity! God is giving us another chance. The question is whether or not we will take that chance.

In Tanzania, one day, I received a call from a local pastor/friend who told me that a village elder called to ask us to come, because his village was ready to receive the Lord. That is fruit that is ripe and ready to be picked! I believe that God has planted an amazing diversity of fruit trees in America with a lot of fruit that is ripe for the harvest. The job for us now is to, first, recognize those trees, and, second, to pick the fruit. That seems to be the simplest job in the world, yet how many will rise up to it?

Here is one simple thing that you can do this week to get started… Instead of going to eat another meal at a fast food chain restaurant, find a hole-in-the-wall mom-and-pop ethnic restaurant, and commit to go there at least once per week. Get to know the wait staff and the cooks. Complement their food. Ask them to teach you how to greet someone in their language and use it the next time. This can be a fun way to meet a person from another culture and open your eyes to all those that are ripe for the harvest.

Please be in prayer for Chris and Cheryl Read as they continue this important work among the Bhutanese refugees in Texas.

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