Maria King Story
I will always remember the evening I was introduced to my quiet and wide-eyed mentee. He was a small little boy who seemed to be shy, although after moving from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the United States, a young child like himself had every reason to be watchful as he learned the ropes in this new place. Maybe it was because he hadn’t ever interacted closely with a white adult female, maybe he had a traumatic past haunting him, or maybe it was just because he only knew a few words in English. Coincidentally, I had just moved to the new, shiny, fast-paced Dallas, TX (although my move was not as much of a culture shock as his) and I was grateful for my new little friend. It’s been almost two years since the night I met Regis. At first, I thought he would never warm up. However, the quiet little boy I met two years ago is profoundly different from the Regis I know and wholeheartedly love today.
Week after week I prayed for Regis and was persistent to show up for Reading Circle. God gave me such a joy as I spent this time with him. I wanted to invest in Regis heart, teaching him about the true Jesus who loved him unto death, knowing that in his new American culture, he may hear many false narratives about who Jesus really is. Additionally, I wanted to show him that I cared about his flourishing in his new environment. Knowing the language is such a vital skill for childhood development and I didn’t want his life to be hindered because of a lack of literacy. I will never forget the night he told me that he had to enter a lower-level class when he came to the United States because of his English. He told me he wasn’t smart—to which I responded, “You ARE smart! Just because you have to learn a NEW language doesn’t make you less smart.” That’s the truth I wanted him to know.
Reading Circle was hard at first. Regis had a very small English vocabulary and I had an even smaller Swahili vocabulary. For what seemed like the first month he memorized the words to our reading passages and we seemed to be at a standstill. But he stayed persistent and his hard work payed off. He would show up every week to Reading Circle (most times he would arrive before I even got there) and as he warmed up to me, I learned new ways to help advance his learning. I watched him go from memorization, to learning phonics, to actually reading! Over time he has moved through many reading levels and continues to love to learn.
The Regis I know today is a rambunctious little boy with innocent mischief and a contagious smile. He will often greet me each week by coming up behind me and “scaring me” and then bursting into laughter. He teaches me every week as he resembles joy from Christ. There is no way I can take credit for how God has shown me the flourishing of this little boy, but I am grateful to have played a role in his life and for the unwavering commitment to the Gospel that Refugee Resources exemplifies through their investment in the lives of some of the most vulnerable image bearers of Christ.