Touching the Nations from Oakmont
One might say SEAPC gets around, and thanks to open doors from God – we do! From working with children with autism in China, to providing spiritual training and physical care to orphans and at-risk children in Cambodia, Myanmar, Nepal, and Laos, to helping with relief and development efforts in the USA, SEAPC is involved!
There is one area I am personally involved with that has allowed me to work directly with individuals from Cambodia, Mexico, and Laos, and I have never left Oakmont, Pennsylvania to do it! The nations literally come to us as we host international interns for a 2-3 month training program. The interns are carefully chosen by their in-country leadership, to come to Oakmont to gain training in the areas of spiritual-based leadership, micro-economics, and English language and communication skills. Each young person chosen is on a path to be groomed for a leadership position, and is actively involved in daily ministry.
Together with co-worker Bob Rosswog, my part in the program is to help the interns increase their English language proficiency. This involves instructing them in the art of journaling, widening their vocabulary and grammar base, and sharpening their public speaking abilities.
Let me tell you about one of the interns I recently worked with. This young man is from Laos where there is a lot of religious persecution, so for the sake of safety I will refer to him as Timothy. One of my first interactions with Timothy caused me to rack my brain to try and answer his question. He simply asked what the meaning of “gun na” was. His question baffled me. Try as I might I couldn’t think of any English word that even resembled “gun na”, yet Timothy insisted that I had said it several times. Oops – the light bulb went on as I suddenly realized that my slang usage was a little over the top. In the world of proper English language usage, there is no way that “gun na” will ever convey the concept of “going to!”
Timothy’s ability to comprehend grammatical rules and desire to learn as many new vocabulary words as possible made it a joy to teach him. Timothy’s quick wit came out as he freely joked, making it fun to interact with him. At the conclusion of his internship, Timothy’s ability to give a clear and comprehensive oral presentation of the ministry he works with brought tears to my eyes.
In Laos Timothy is on staff with a Bible training school and agricultural center which is called The Garden of Hope. Students come from remote Laotian villages to take part in a 2-year program where they receive training in agriculture, Biblical theology, and worship. Timothy teaches worship techniques and helps students with their English language skills. Timothy’s heart’s desire is to see the school increase so that there will be more people to spread the Gospel to the 160 different ethnic groups within Laos.
It is always a joy to work with our interns because without exception, everyone I have worked with has had a strong desire to learn as well as a willingness to receive instruction. Their dedication and discipline to sharpen their skills to do what God has called them to do inspires me. I feel as if I learn something from each intern I work with. I sometimes wonder who really was the student and who was the teacher! It certainly makes me look forward to working with our next group of interns.