Step 2: Make Personal Connections

READ the following stories and then discuss and reflect.

Faith Perspective


Bro. John Beeching, M.M. shares the following story from a refugee camp in Myanmar where he and many people of wonder work to provide the displaced people in the camps with food and medical supplies.

Deep in the forest of Kachin State in Myanmar (a small country in Southeast Asia) were 2,000 people trapped and waiting for help. They had fled to the forests when their village was hit with bombs during the longest civil war in the world. With no way out and food supplies dwindling, the bishop knew they needed help to escape. So he asked for a volunteer to rescue the villagers. He knew that it would take a person of wonder, courage, and faith to enter a conflict zone still at war and filled with landmines. The person who volunteered was Yohan Tingrenan La Aung, a catechist in the church. Yohan told Bro. John that because of his familiarity with the area he felt he was being called, perhaps like Moses, to try and lead the people to safety.

After the experience, Yohan narrated how he had to first calm everyone’s fears upon reaching the villagers. The group started the hike out of the jungle, taking care to move together and not leave anyone behind. It was a very difficult hike. Children older than 3 had to walk; the younger ones were placed in baskets on peoples’ backs. Men took turns carrying the elderly and sick. They had to find work elephants to carry the children and the elderly across swift rivers. The first time they tried to cross without the elephants, a 10 year-old boy drowned. Four babies were born along the way; five people lost their lives. Many fell ill and others suffered injury while trekking through the thick jungle. Yohan spoke with a calmness, of a journey that most would describe as a nightmare. The group walked many miles to the refugee camp. It was a hard journey but Yohan led the way with his strong faith and belief that God was with them. Read more about the ministry of Bro.John at Maryknoll

Neighbor Focus


People wonder, says Maryknoll Fr. Mike Bassano, “What is it like to be an internally displaced person?” meaning someone forced to flee his or her home in one part of the country to seek safety in another.

He answers from his experience as the chaplain in a U.N. camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in South Sudan. “Our camp outside the northeast town of Malakal, is one of the most congested camps in the country. Approximately 30,000 people are cramped next to each other in plastic or tin sheet houses.” Each family receives a two-month supply of sorghum, cooking oil, soap and cereal mix for the children, which is just enough for them to live on.

These people have been here since they were forced to flee their homes when the country’s civil war began in 2013. It escalated into a war that claimed some 400,000 lives and displaced millions of others, within, and beyond South Sudan’s borders. "Living in an IDP camp for so long has certainly taken its toll on the people,” says Fr. Mike. “They want to return to their homes. But the journey to peace, reconciliation, and justice is still a long road ahead. So, our people remain in the camp with the hope of one day returning home."

Maryknoll Fr. John Barth works with refugees who fled S. Sudan to a camp in the neighboring country of Uganda. He describes the reality at the camp, “Hunger is rising to the level of starvation.” Due to COVID 19, “these people who live from hand to mouth literally don’t have a chance to make the money they need to pay for today’s food.”

DISCUSS THE FOLLOWING: Yohan, Bro. John, and Frs. Mike and John accompany refugees. A refugee is a displaced person who has been forced to cross national boundaries and cannot safely return to his or her home. Being a person of wonder sometimes involves risk. Each of these men took risks to do what they believed God asked them to do.

  1. Do you think Yohan was afraid? What did he say gave him the strength to lead the villagers?
  2. How do you think the villagers were feeling at this time? What did they do to participate in saving their community?
  3. What is the experience of refugees in S. Sudan and Uganda, according to the story? If you had to flee your home, where might you go?
  4. What is something you have imagined yourself doing that could have a positive impact on others? What risk, if any, is involved in doing it?
  5. How can your faith and belief in God help you to do something that you believe is important for others?



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