One of my longest running urban missions is working with Burmese refugees. Providence is actually a major hub for refugee resettlement, through the work of various social service agencies such as Dorcas International. Providence's moniker as a "minority majority" city becomes obvious in the Southside neighborhoods, where upwards of 80% of the clientele of local food pantries do not speak English.
The Karen, Kachin, and Chin people are ethnic groups within Myanmar that have been displaced due to civil war and a brutal military regime. Many of the families have spent almost ten years in displacement camps in Thailand, raising their family among oppressive conditions while holding out hope for a new life in the Western world. Once they arrive however, today's economic depression has increased the burden on these families, who possess no marketable job skills or educational background to compete. They rely on each other.
I provide various relationship-based services to the Burmese, ranging from computer repair to English lessons to deciphering administrative documents. On Sunday evenings we get together for a house church service, where I preach with the help of a translator. Through these organic gatherings, I have the privilege of calling these incredible people my friends.