Lectionary Text and prayers for Laos : Mark 9:30-37
Similar to the disciples following Jesus that day in Capernaum talking among themselves about who amongst them was the most holy, we as church goers, or international aid workers or donors and partners to the poor people we are trying to help sometimes tend to praise and glorify ourselves for the good deeds we do, or worse, look upon ourselves as better or more holy than those who we help.
We need to remind ourselves, as Jesus reminded the disciples that day, that these people who we are trying to help and who are poor and illiterate in our eyes and often do not follow our religion, are also the children of God.
We need to ask ourselves "why are we helping them" and why are we donating our work, our time or our money. Are we doing this so that we can praise ourselves?
We need to be reminded that we as the Church and as Christians should be doing this because these poor and less fortunate people are the children of God and because we are God's servants.
Sometimes I too am guilty of self-glorification when I talk about my work "helping" these people until I remember and remind myself that I love these people and get so much strength from them. Often it is they who are helping and inspiring me and I realize that God is working thru them also, to help me and perhaps to help us and thru us to help the Church.
The bible verse of Mark said that each of the disciples wanted to be the greatest and Jesus told them that they should instead be the servants.
We pray that we are humble when we work with local people and respect their culture including religion. We should respect them, find their capacity, potential, resources and support them accordingly . They are the 'greatest' and we are their servants.
Specific Prayers for Laos and our social development projects :
Thank you God for letting me work in this small forgotten country. Thank you God for helping me to be patient as a social worker who works in a country without any social workers. Please help me be humble as I introduce the social work profession to the National University in this country and when I practice social work in the poor communities. Thank you God for giving me the patience I have needed in my work introducing this profession in their university for the past 4 years. Thank you God for showing yourself to me thru the Lao people with whom I work and for whom I am your servant.
We pray that the first group of newly graduating Social workers (June 2010) will go to their field work this coming semester and will be able to learn and to love their profession and work and learn compassion and dedication and become true servants of the poorer people who are your children.
We pray for your strength and guidance for the innocent youths and families so that they can deal with drug abuse issues that threaten to destroy the brains of these innocent youths and threaten to ruin their families and communities.
We pray for your help and guidance to those people who exploit poor innocent women and children thru human trafficking, help them see their errors and help them find better ways to earn a living.
We pray for your help God, for the children in the far and remote mountainous areas of Laos. Give strength to those who are trying to help them have enough schools and teachers so that they may go to school and have hope for a better life and become good people.
(Prayers by Xuyen Dangers)
Global Ministries International Partners in Laos:
- Church World Service has been involved in ethnic minority communities that are caught in a cycle of poor quality education due to a lack of properly trained teachers. CWS has been building education centers and providing quality training to the under-trained community teachers in Vietnam and Laos. Through CWS, Global Ministries works to support after school programs and provide scholarships to local volunteering youths
- The Lao Evangelical Church is an organization of the Protestant Christian churches is Laos. They are working to develop improved educational options for the people of Laos; both through building schools in remote areas of the country that have none and also developing opportunities for advanced students to continue their studies in the Philippines. The Church is also challenged to find ways to make medical care more accessible to the poor. Hospitals will give limited assistance to the poor only if the patient can get certification of their poverty status.
Global Ministries Personnel in Laos:
Xuyen Dangers works with CWS in development and social work. For the last several years she has worked to help develop Children's Development Centers with many after school activity programs to help make school fun to prevent the children from dropping out at an early age. These Centers provides scholarship to poor children who could not afford even school uniforms and notebooks.
Working in a small country with no professional social workers, she also has encouraged local youth to be youth volunteers in these development centers and provides them with scholarships to go to the university to learn to become social development workers ( Bachelor of Sociology and Social Development- BSSD ) at the Faculty of Social Sciences , where she helped introduce social work course at the National University of Laos four year ago. The very first class of 80 Students of BSSD will graduate in June 2010.