An estimated 30,000 refugees live within a three-mile portion of North Dallas called Vickery Meadow. In July, I had the priviledge to meet, visit and photograph (photos below) some of these beautiful Zomi refugees for a new Texas Baptists initiative called Project: Start. While much is being done in Vickery Meadow to aid refugees, many simply do not know what resources are available; Project: Start will be a physical location in Vickery Meadow specifically designed to connect refugees to resources.
Nu Niang Hoih, a young mother of three girls under the age of six, is pregnant with her fourth child. She speaks very little English, but she spends much of her time learning the language. As she sat in front of the camera for an interview, she told us why she left Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), the hardships of her family's journey to Dallas, Texas, and her struggles since being here. None of her struggles or hardships could overshadow the gratitude she felt by finally being in this country, and the opportunities it could provide her children.
Toward the end of our interview, our videographer asked Nu Niang Hoih what her greatest dream was now that she has more opportunities. What she said floored me, and brought me to tears …
Nu Niang Hoih very quickly, and with a smiling face, said she wishes for her and her family to learn English so someday they will be able to worship with her American brothers and sisters in Christ.
If I was asked that question, out of all the things I could have said, ashamedly my answer would probably have nothing to do with my faith. Maybe it would be how I would love to work for National Geographic, or have a home in the Colorado mountains. When I hear "dream," I still think of the American Dream, instead of recalling Matthew 6:19-21, or the Jim Reeves song, "This World is not my Home."
Helping Nu Niang Hoih achieve her dream is what Project: Start is all about. It's about connecting refugees to resources already available to them, which they may not be aware. Many of these resources are provided by churches and Christian non-profit organizations in the area. Through these interactions, not only will refugees receive much-needed basic resources, but also many will experience the love of Christ.
I am humbled and honored to have met this beautiful Zomi woman, who taught me how powerful language can be, and served as a reminder of how I am just passing through this world. Someday, all believers, we will worship our Father side-by-side with no hinderance of language, but through Project: Start, this worship can become a reality here on earth.
To become a reality, all Project: Start needs are the funds to hire one person to lead the initiative, and a small operating budget. If you would like to donate to Project: Start please visit: texasbaptists.org/ntgd, or contact Jay Netherton at jay.netherton [at] texasbaptists.org.
Enjoy the slideshow below ...