On December 17, 2017, Mennonite Men, presented the Mara Christian Church of Charlotte, North Carolina a $40,000 JoinHands church grant.
A member of Virginia Mennonite Conference, the church is a young vibrant church made up of refugees from Myanmar who fled their country to escape persecution by the Buddhist military who control the country. Many Mara Chin people have fled to the United States and Canada and have been granted asylum here.
The congregation of over 100 members currently meets in a rented church on Sunday afternoons. Their services typically are 3 hours long and involve a great deal of prayer and singing. Many of the congregants received no formal education in Burma so have worked hard to learn English and adapt to North American culture. There are many children in the church. They also have a women's group, a youth group, and a mission team.
The church has a building committee and is currently looking for either a place to build a church or a current building that would fit their needs. They have struggled to find an affordable option in a growing Charlotte real estate market. Meanwhile, the church continues to grow with more Mara people coming from Myanmar.
Church leaders are Tei Do (left rear), ZaZah (right front) and Bei Lua (left front). Among them for the presentation are Lonnie Bartel (front center) of Mennonite Men and Dan Yoder (right of Lonnie), who along with Lois, his spouse, Lois, marvel at the generosity and kindness of the Mara church.
With this grant, Mennonite Men has given nearly 2 million dollars to help new congregations acquire their first building. We are grateful for the opportunity to assist this congregation in purchasing a meeting place.