Kyle Nelson is a master of divinity student at Central Baptist Theological Seminary and a part of Central’s 2011create scholars program. Kyle also serves as the Assistant Program Director at Bethel Neighborhood Center in Kansas City, Kansas.
It’s a God thing. I started working at Bethel before I started at Central. I thought I was listening to God when I started at Bethel, but now it seems very clear to me how God has worked things out – how I was already working with Burmese refugees at Bethel, and then having the Myanmar (Burmese) immersion opportunity through Central Baptist Theological Seminary's create program. I know I am where I am supposed to be and doing what I’m supposed to be doing – both working at Bethel and going to seminary at Central.
I went to Myanmar with the other students in my create cohort in February of this year. To complete the immersion experience we were each assigned 10 hours of community service working with the refugees from Myanmar through the Bethel Neighborhood Center. Since I already work at Bethel, I served as the liaison between my student colleagues and the Neighborhood Center. I was in a unique position to help determine a good way to connect our experience with the people who live in Myanmar to the ministry Bethel has with immigrants from Myanmar.
I work with all age groups at Bethel, although my primary responsibility is the after school and summer programs with 7th and 8th graders. Because of a recent grant, my hours have expanded at Bethel so that I am able to reach out to more of the adults Bethel serves. I’ve been able to develop relationships with multiple age groups. After thinking about the needs of the folks we serve at Bethel serve, I decided it would be good to plan an ethnic carnival that would celebrate all of the cultures of those involved.
After having experienced for a moment their culture [in Myanmar], I was able to take that understanding back home. It made me want to celebrate our differences – how they enhance our relationship rather than hinder it.
The carnival on the grounds at Bethel, Saturday, July 7, was a morning of games with prizes for the children and culminated in a lunch buffet of food from the various cultures of the 60-80 people present. In addition to families of immigrants from Myanmar, the participants were of Hispanic and Nepalese origins, and all contributed to the meal. The carnival games were fun, but the food helps us understand one another better.
The event was designed for the participants to come together to have fun and to break down barriers. Without the create students help , Bethel’s limited resources wouldn’t have been enough to organize, plan, and implement the event. Plus, my friends and I tangibly observed how our personal ministry has been impacted by our experience in Myanmar.
From my perspective, doing the event at Bethel showed the rest of my create group what I do and people I work with, and, just for a little while, gave them a taste of what I experience. It’s an example of one reason the create program is such a good opportunity – traveling to Burma and then coming back and working with the same people here in Kansas City.