A new citizen

12/18/2013

 
Today I was excited to see one of my Nepali-Bhutanese  "children" get her American citizenship after fleeing a Nepal refugee camp and coming to America for a better life.  The ceremony was held at the M.O. Campbell auditorium on Aldine Bender.  There were 1508 candidates from 112 nations there to receive their certificate of citizenship. I thought about my country and how my grandfather came from Scotland and settled here in the late 1800s. (Probably most people in the room could say their parents or grandparents were from other countries).  

I thought about my "daughter" and her personal journey.  She came here with her brother both in their 20s with no parents.  She worked assembly at some horrible jobs, and walked or rode her bicycle to work.  She was freezing the first winter because she did not know how to set the thermostat at her apartment.  One afternoon while sitting on her balcony she saw a Burmese refugee shot in front of her and she had no phone to call for help if she needed to.  All of the refugees then had to move to other apartments because of the violence. She enrolled in college and now has a nice car and a much nicer job.

America has been blessed to be a blessing to so many hurting people fleeing oppression or just wanting a chance for a better life. May God continue to bless us because we hold out freedom (though some is slipping away) and most of all hope to so many people. 

The ceremony was well organized and short because I am sure there were so many people to receive certificates of citizenship.   In 1996 I witnessed a similar ceremony in my Immigration building.  There were only about 50 people then but each one was clutching an American flag.

Today a few people had a small flag but it was in their pocket.  We said the pledge of allegiance to the flag but nothing was mentioned about putting your right hand over your  heart.  (Perhaps they were told, but forgot). Then we had a small choir sing the Star Spangled Banner and a few had their hands over their hearts.  To coin a phrase from television:  "Back in my day" I think I would have been scolded for not having my hand over my heart.  

Immediately all of the new citizens were given voter registration forms and volunteers waited to gather them up after they were filled in.  

God truly has brought the nations to our doorstep. What will we do to help them assimilate to their new culture?
 
 
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Dear praying friends and supporters,

When I look back on a ministry that started from the back of a car to where it is today, I can only fall on my face (or my knees, if they allowed) and worship God. Who could have imagined where He was leading?
 
Receiving an apartment for ministry, a warehouse to store donations (winter clothes come in summer and vice versa), helpers to maintain the warehouse when my health failed, volunteers to teach the children and see their spiritual growth, ESL classes twice per week plus English sign language class, and donations given out weekly to about 50 families.  Who could guess where all of these people and funds would come from? Only a sovereign Lord.
 
We are blessed to partner with such churches as Kingsland Baptist, Chinese Baptist, First Baptist Houston, Jersey Village Baptist, Sugar Creek Baptist, First Baptist Katy, First Baptist Crosby, Katy Bible Church and Tallowood Baptist. Upper Room Bible study, and Pregnancy Help Center-Katy and Second Mile have also helped. These church members have either volunteered in some capacity, given donations, or prayed for the ministry. All is needed and vital, especially prayer. 
 
We have two major expenses each month:  the warehouse and the commercial insurance on the ministry van. Those expenses total approximately $500 per month. Throughout the year we help families with diapers, wipes, shampoo, toothpaste,  laundry soap and dish soap. These items are not supplied by government programs and when you are the working poor you cannot afford to buy these items, and therefore, the children suffer.  Working parents pay rent, utilities, car loans (if they have one), car insurance, money for the laundry machines, money for the water machine, and their loan to come to America. Yes, refugees pay $1,500 per person for the airfare to come here. They have three years to repay the loan, but the note can be several hundred dollars per month. The items we supply cost between $200-$300 per week.
 
The Lord gave me several Scriptures in the early days of the ministry. One was "I was naked and you clothed me, I was hungry and you fed me. " Last Saturday, He encouraged me greatly. I had gone earlier in the week to the warehouse in Katy and found two pairs of boys' shoes that had been donated by someone (I never know who) and took them to the apartment. Almost as soon as I arrived, people were lined up for help. About 21 children came for clothes, shoes, back packs etc. In the afternoon, one small boy came with the worst looking pair of shoes I have ever seen and the smell from the shoes sent us out looking for a can of Lysol. It just "so happened" that one of the used pairs of shoes fit him. He was so excited, and so was I. Immediately the Spirit spoke to me and said, "As you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to me."
 
God has been faithful to supply our every need and I praise Him. Many have asked if  I receive support. The answer is yes, but it is used exclusively for ministry, either to supply a need, like gas and upkeep on the van or to give love offerings to ministry helpers from the Bhutanese community. All other donations go directly into the Loaves & Fishes account and is used to purchase items needed or help a family in need, or support ministries that have begun as a result of "feeding the hungry and clothing the naked."  All of us are volunteers.  I live on my Social Security :) .  With what we have in the bank now, we can give out non-food items only until the end of the year and, hopefully, use what is left to pay ministry expenses until the mission teams have come and God has done His work. But I have seen Him supply at the eleventh hour and He has said to "Be anxious for nothing."  If He cares about the sparrow that falls from the sky, He certainly cares about the needs of refugees at St. Cloud Apartments. 

We are blessed with two Christmas programs this year. One is on December 7 and will be Christmas music sung by the Houston Home School Choir. The other is on Dec 14 and will be a reenactment of the Christmas story with real Bhutanese refugee children dressed in costumes (mostly from non-Christian homes). We will also have music, chicken nuggets supplied by Chik-Fil-A, and goodie bags for the kids on the 14th. In the spring, we will host a mission team from another city and in the summer we will host a returning mission team from another city. Our prayer is that these children will develop a heart for the nations and be called to missions. I also pray that the churches will serve in their communities if they have refugees. 

It has been a great pleasure to serve Him in whatever capacity He calls, whether preaching the gospel, washing dirty feet, mentoring the Bhutanese Christians so that they can go and evangelize their people, or just giving a hug when needed. I thank Him for forcing me out of the boat to serve and allowing me glimpses of His power, and I thank Him for all of the wonderful Christian brothers and sisters that He has called out to be a part of Loaves & Fishes. 
 
Many, many thanks go to all of you who have given a bottle of shampoo, or dish soap or prayed and asked others to pray for the ministry (we are always in a battle), given your time, or given money to buy supplies. I know that He will reward you because He promises that those things done in secret will be rewarded openly.  
 
May the Lord bless and keep you. Have a blessed Christmas celebration!
 
Margie Randall, Director
www.4loavesfishes.org

"Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do [it] to one of the least of these, you did not do [it] to Me." Matthew 25:45