Win Yaw Thang

Win Yaw Thang’s story (name has been changed)

Imagine the fear going through Win Yaw Thang’s mind as he was handcuffed, placed in an Austin police car, and driven away. He knew people in his situation were seldom seen again. And if they were, they bore terrible scars from torture.

Here he is, an elderly refugee man, new to America, who doesn’t speak English, whose family was gone doing errands, being arrested.

He chose to stay at the apartment to watch his grandson. Sitting on the step of the entrance to his family’s apartment, he watched as his grandson was approached by a couple of neighbor boys to play. The boys were not strangers, they had been over to the apartment many times.

Quickly, the three boys were doing the most they could with the limited resources around them; namely, grass and sticks. Tiring of nature’s distractions, they turned to themselves for entertainment- wrestling. Eventually, grandfather was pulled into the tussle.

Some minutes after the “roughhousing” had ceased and everyone went their own way, the police appeared. They had been called by the neighbor boys’ grandmother who, from their apartment window, allegedly witnessed the refugee grandfather inappropriately touch one of her grandsons while wrestling.

For simply playing with his grandson and his friends, this refugee man was forced to relocate to a different part of the city, required to wear an electronic monitoring device, report weekly to a probation officer for clearance on his movements, pay a multitude of administrative and court fees, and eventually brought to the brink of deportation.

Why did God allow this man to have such an experience; particularly, given all the sorrow he had endured as a persecuted refugee? Perhaps, one explanation can be found in the fact that he is Buddhist, and those of us who devoted ourselves to helping him are Christian.

Month after month, he witnessed Christians visit him in jail, accompany him to the court hearings, be with him at the probation meetings, be beside him at the attorney briefings, and he began to feel God’s love for him. He began to sense hope.

Although, he is still a Buddhist, he attends the Austin Karen Baptist church every Sunday. I believe he is gradually being drawn nearer to God and, as a result, is involved in another wrestling situation- wrestling for his eternity. Volunteering can bring you to your knees, and sometimes that offers a better view.

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