Jon Levy giving a devotion after soccer training
When H’mil walked up to us she only brought a frown and arms crossed. Reluctant to even stand on the field with us much less play a game of soccer, she chose to disengage. She seemed like a normal teenager, however she lives the life of a refugee. While living most of her life here in America she lives between two worlds. Her parents still function primarily within her Montagnard culture from her home country in Vietnam but her primary language is English and cultural influence is from America. Her family was forced to leave their home country when she was an infant. Now she struggles to trust and engage with the world.
Eight men from Uptown, along with their kids, and two Malaysian men from City Discipleship Presbyterian Church (CDPC) had the privilege of leading a soccer training camp for 10 Montagnard Refugee children ranging in ages 7-12. Through simple acts of kindness we have seen H’mil begin to laugh, enjoying our company and the game of soccer. By the end of the week she had shared with me some of the challenges she has faced in her life like the loss of her infant brother when she was five and the loss of her dad two years ago. Xlos (pronounced: slos) is a 12 year old boy who also attended the soccer training camp. He sat down next to me in the car on the way home one day and said that he is really enjoying getting to know more about Jesus through his church that he is attending. This is not a normal conversation that I am used to having with a 12 year old. The reality is that he and H’mil have felt very loved through the act of kindness expressed through teaching soccer and spending time with them. It is evident that they are eager for more Christian nurture and leadership in their life.
Xlos (slos) and most of these Montagnard children currently attend Brookstone School. My prayer is that Uptown Church would be faithful in simple ordinary acts of kindness for an extended period of time to the needy here in Charlotte, particularly with our focused mercy ministry effort at Brookstone. The biggest impact is made in the lives of others as Christians maintain a consistent demonstration of the love of God. Jeffrey Wallis, one of the Uptown volunteers at the Brookstone Summer Camp this year, said “these short term projects are great but these young boys are longing for consistent loving relationships with godly men.” These children are tempted to chase the glitter and glamour of fulfilling the American dream. We have an opportunity to point them to a solid hope only found in “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1:4)
Currently Xlos (slos) and 15 others are in need of a lunch buddy at Brookstone. There are also many needs for tutoring between 8-8:30am during the week. Will you consider opening your heart to young students like H’mil and Xlos (slos) serving as a friend, mentor, tutor and/or lunch buddy two or three times a month? The Lord loves to take simple acts of kindness and change lives through giving an eternal hope. It is our hope that H’mil and the other Montagnard children in their struggle to find an identity will seek after an even better country, our heavenly city, the city in whom the architect is God (Hebrews 11:10).
Email Laura Townsend for more information on how you can become a lunch buddy or tutor at Brookstone: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the Montagnard people and their journey to North Carolina see this website
For more information regarding the school Uptown is working with and where these students attend click here
Author: Rev. Micah Vickery