For the Khai and Muang families, refugees from Myanmar (also known as Burma), life in Canada is among their reasons for singing praise to God. They recently shared that praise in song in their native language as part of a worship service at Grace Christian Reformed Church in Chatham, Ontario.
Lian and Kim Khai and their family came to Canada in 2013, followed in 2014 by Thang and Esther Muang, with their two children and Esther’s brother Dal. Despite their limited English when they arrived, both families participate as fully as possible in the life of Grace CRC, joining praise teams and helping with events at the church, one of four Christian Reformed churches that joined to sponsor the families in their refugee journey.
The families came to Canada fleeing a life they prefer not to talk about much, saying only that it was “not good.” As part of the Chin minority in Myanmar, and Christian in a predominantly Buddhist country, the families experienced persecution on two levels. Nineteen-year-old Dal said that in Myanmar, “Christians are persecuted in the sense that they are denied citizenship in their own country. They are not able to get jobs; schooling is very expensive and often unaffordable for the Chin people. The Buddhist majority in the country wants to get rid of them and often attack, rape, and kill them.”
Both families moved to Malaysia, but tensions between Malaysia and Myanmar meant continued difficulties. During their time there, they became part of a Chin refugee community and its growing church.
“Church is very important to them. There are many young people who attend, and they do a lot of singing. They are very good at it too!” said Alice Van Stempvoort, a friend of the families in the new Canadian church community. “They are all self-taught musicians and play and sing mostly by ear. Their love for God is very evident in what they sing.”
Support for churches sponsoring refugees is available from World Renew’s Refugee Coordinator.