International Ministries

Ethnic Karen-American Gives Back

September 7, 2016 Journal
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Over the past thirty years, the New Life Center Foundation has been blessed and encouraged by the service of many volunteers who have invested their time, talents, and treasure in order to create a world without exploitation. Due to the sensitivity of our work with survivors of trauma, New Life Center is conscientious and conservative in its volunteer / intern selection. But every once in a while, the Holy Spirit makes an appointment and it becomes clear that a gentle and gifted servant is destined to cross our path for a reason. Lah Say Wah was one of them.

During the summer of 2016, Lah Say came to the New Life Center to teach English for residents and staff, and to use her gifts as a photographer. In relative terms, she wasn’t with us for a long time. However, God had prepared her in unique ways so that she was immediately ‘at home’ at the New Life Center.

Lah Say is an ethnic tribal Karen woman in her mid-twenties. She grew up in a refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border. In 2009 her family was given the opportunity to immigrate to America. Knowing only a few words of English, Lah Say Wah was enrolled in an American high school. She adapted quickly, and this bright young woman went on to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Public Health at Colorado University. Following her graduation, Lah Say decided to return to northern Thailand to reconnect with her roots and invest in the tribal community. Being fluent in English and Karen and proficient in Thai and Burmese, there were few people at the New Life Center with whom Lah Say didn’t have an immediate connection. She approached her internship with a spirit of humility and flexibility, two important skills required for success as a volunteer in mission. She was a rich blessing to the New Life Center during her months with us. Several staff cried at her farewell celebration, testifying to the profound ministry of presence she practiced as her life became interwoven with ours. After returning to Colorado, Lah Say wrote, “I cannot believe how much Thailand, and especially the New Life Center, has changed me. God used this experience to revitalize my faith. I have a renewed commitment to make a difference in the world by serving other people who have been displaced like me.”