Oak Grove UMC shares refugee family success story


Hank Woolard of Oak Grove UMC, Decatur, sent the following update on the Thang Family:

The Thang family -- Kum, Shay, and Eilisor -- arrived in our community just over two years ago. Their journey began in Thailand, after being forced out of Burma/Myanmar. They migrated to Malaysia and applied through the Church World Service (CWS) for approval to come to the USA. Once approved by our US State Dept., the CWS gave their names to UMCOR. In turn UMCOR contacted RRISA (Refugee Resettlement & Immigration Services of Atlanta) and RRISA asked Oak Grove UMC to co-sponsor the family. We agreed. 

This approval process took them almost four years. For many refugees the process is much longer.
On being notified by RRISA that our family would be arriving soon, we alerted our congregation of the needs to set up an apartment. As always, our Oak Grove folks responded to the challenge. We asked the Youth Ministry, under Robin Merrill’s superb leadership, to set up the apartment. These young folks and the adult leadership responded with great enthusiasm.
Soon after the Thang’s arrival, Eilisor celebrated his second birthday. The youth threw a great party for him with the works -- cake, ice cream, clothing, toys, singing, blowing out candles. We had a blast!
And our youth were not done yet!  Kum’s job was at the poultry plant in Gainesville, and he needed transportation. The call went out and the youth raised some $3,100 for us to buy the Thang’s a Toyota four-door sedan. Not only could he get to and from work, but he had passengers to cover the car's expenses.
This has been a very special family for Oak Grove to sponsor, but now they are “moving on."

Kum has already relocated to Seattle, Washington, where is beginning a new career in a sushi franchise store. On completing training as a sushi chef, he will manage the store. How’s that for a change? Shay and Eilisor fly out early Saturday morning, Sept 29, to join him. Their car has been shipped to Seattle.
What a success story!
There are those that question our country, our community, and our church for being involved in bringing these refugees from various parts of the world and helping them begin a new life, in a free country. The Thang family’s achievements are just one of many that our Oak Grove Refugee Ministry has reached "outside the box,” and said “Welcome Home!" Please take a moment and pray for the Thang family’s safe journey and for God to watch over and care for them in their new home.

--Hank Wollard
Pictured is The Thang family, (from left) K.T., baby Eliezer, and Sha, with Hank Woolard. A UMNS photo courtesy of Virginia Sowell.

Any United Methodist church can take part in refugee ministry. For more information, contact Rev. Matt Nelson, Conference Refugee and Resettlement Rep, at
matt.nelson@ngumc.org or contact RRISA directly through www.rrisa.org or Tom Van Laningham at tom@rrisa.org.