Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Baptist Standard : - Bhutanese refugees hear for first time about birth of Jesus

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    • Bhadra Rai, an emerging Bhutanese Christian leader in Houston, along with the Baptist General Convention of Texas intercultural ministries office, Houston Baptist University and several churches in the area, planned an assembly of cultural performances and presentations to share the Christmas story with more than 250 Bhutanese who arrived in Texas this year.
    • Several young girls perform a traditional Bhutanese dance during a Christmas program. During the evening, more than 250 Bhutanese heard the Christmas story for the first time in their lives. (PHOTO/Clifford Lee)
    • In 1990, the Bhutanese government attempted to create a unified society by forcing all citizens to become Tibetan Buddhists, limiting freedoms and cultural expression within Bhutan. Many Hindu Southern Bhutanese protested but were met with violence, forcing more than 120,000 to seek protection at refugee camps in Nepal and India. Now, many are immigrating to the United States.
    • Because of this, leaders of the Christmas event wanted to give the refugees a night to join with Bhutanese across the city to celebrate their culture in their Nepali heart language— while receiving hope from hearing the Christmas story.
    • The night included cultural dances from the Bhutanese after Deana Severance, the curator of the HBU Bible Museum, told the Christmas story while Linda Renz, an HBU graduate student, illustrated the story on several large canvases. Afterward, Alex Kennedy, pastor of Kingsland Baptist Church, shared a gospel presentation.

      The Christmas party served as a way to reach out to the Bhutanese—letting them know people want to help them succeed in their new life in Texas and show them God’s love.

      HBU showed its support by providing refreshments and allowing the group to host the event in the Dunham Theater on its campus. Additional refugee ministries and agencies provided Christmas gifts for the children who attended the event.

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