The Story Behind 12-year-old Xinya Zhao’s Art Work
and her parent’s struggle to bring her to America
Zhi Hua Wu and Qing Wei Zhao are a loving wife and husband and members of Asylum Hill Congregational Church (AHCC). Born and married in China, Zhi Hua and Qing Wei were persecuted for their desire to have more than a one- child family. They both lost their jobs and Qing Wei went into hiding, while Zhi Hua stayed with their two children, Xinya, and her younger brother, Yao.
In 1999, they fled to the United States, leaving eight-year old Xinya behind with Zhi Hua’s parents. Xinya desper- ately wanted to join her family. She sent pictures to remind them of her, and even wrote a letter with her handprint on it to touch her parents’ faces, to help recall the times they were all together. Xinya’s delicate works of art show a remarkable talent and true artistic inspiration, and were a special way in which she could remain connected to her family.
AHCC steadfastly assisted the family in its ongoing efforts to bring Xinya to the United States. As a way of giving thanks to the church, and as an offer- ing to God, her parents asked that their daughter’s paintings be offered for sale. Qing Wei’s said, “Please take Xinya’s paintings and sell them. We want to donate the money to this church and to God, for all that is being done to help us be reunited with our daughter.”
The church supported this generous spirit of giving, especially as it was a way of assuring Zhi Hua and Qing Wei of the commitment to support their efforts to reunite with Xinya. AHCC sponsored a silent auction of her art which raised more than $2,000, with all proceeds going into the Pastor’s Discretionary Fund, designated for future use in reuniting the family.
Xinya’s situation changed quickly and decisively over a three-week period in July, and she arrived in Connecticut before the month’s end, reunited with her parents, brother Yao, now 9, and 18-month-old sister Angela, whom she met for the first time.
Kathleen Graham, Director of Children and Family Ministries, credits four forces for this inspiring success: a dedicated and tireless pro bono lawyer; the scholarship that the Masters School offered; the advocacy of AHCC and Tricia Boyer, a church member of and internationally recognized art schol- ar, who certified to Xinya’s professional artistry; and the intercession of Senator Christopher Dodd, who worked with the American Embassy in China to secure her entry to the country.
Xinya, who has taken Leah as her English name, lives with her family in Hartford. She immediately began taking immersion English language tutoring at AHCC. She is a 7th grade student at the Masters School in West Simsbury, thanks in part to scholarships from both AHCC and the school.
AHCC’s steadfast support affirmed the family’s connection to the church, offering hope and strength. And it let Xinya know that she had a “church family” in Hartford that loved her, too, ready to welcome and receive her when she was free to come “home.”
Korean Partnership – 2003 Family Mission Trip The Korean Partnership of the Connecticut Conference of the UCC, together with the Kyung-Ki Presbytery of the PROK in South Korea, hosted a joint-mission project this summer. 26 Koreans – adults, children, families, youths – visited Connecticut from July 31 through August 12 for 2003 Family Mission Trip. Divided into four mission teams and hosted by Connecticut partner churches, these combined Korean and American mission groups fanned out across the state to engage in local mission work – Habitat for Humanity, soup kitchens, food banks, inner-city vacation Bible school programs, 4-H programs, pre- sentations for Silver Lake campers, preparing meals for prison workers, etc.
Along the way, some very interesting things hap- pened:
Several host families begged their team leaders to let their Korean guests stay with them an extra day or two. Some strong friendships and streams of email have resulted from this visit.
Some host churches discovered lost or unknown members, as unexpected volunteers became involved in the projects and the visit. Some of the Korean guests were hosted by “families that I have never met before,” said one team leader. “So our church has become a little bit closer as a community.”
Some dormant partnerships were re-energized, and two new churches expressed interest in becoming partner churches.
All involved made some strong connections with our Korean sisters and brothers in Christ. The Koreans learned that mission work is needed even here in the United States; and the Connecticut partners had an opportunity to experience the global dimension of the Body of Christ. Creating friendships, drawing out members, deepening commitments, and ener- gizing congregations - certainly the Spirit was at work in and through this project.
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Opportunities for Support
RESOURCE CENTERS TO COLLABORATE ON ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSIONS
in the Connecticut Conference United Church of Christ
The Ruth Dudley Resource Center of the Connecticut Conference, and The John P. Webster Library of First Church of Christ in West Hartford have agreed to collab- orate on a series of roundtable discussions starting in October, 2003. The events are designed for pastors and laity to come together around issues of common interest, spark conversation, share ideas, and present resources for church programming.
Stewardship of personal and estate planning provides an opportunity for you to include The Missionary Society of Connecticut and The Trustees of the Fund for Ministers as beneficiaries in your will and planned giving. This joyous expression of Christian commitment helps strengthen the ministries of the Connecticut Conference, now and in the future.
Through Friends of the Conference Annual Gift, you can directly support the mission of the Connecticut Conference, the programs and resources pro- vided to the local churches and the ministry that is executed on behalf of you and your church. Please contact Jim Morgan for more information.
The first roundtable will be held on Friday, October 31, 2003 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the John P. Webster Library. Kathy Peters, Associate Conference Minister for Local Church Ministry, will facilitate a discussion titled, “Children and Communion: The Importance of Education,” focusing on questions of when children should take part in communion, what preparation chil- dren should receive, and responding to concerns or objections within the congregation.
Future roundtables will take place on the last Fridays in January and April, 2004, and will focus on living out faith in the workplace and on the role of faith in politics.
An informal lunch will follow each of the discussions. Please let resource center staff know in advance if you plan to stay for lunch. For directions or further informa- tion about these programs, call the Ruth Dudley Resource Center at 860.233.5564 or the John P. Webster Library at 860.232.3893.
POSITIONS EAST HARTFORD — Iglesia Cristiana Nueva Esperanza, UCC in East Hartford is seeking a person to play the piano or keyboard for worship services on Sunday mornings at 11 AM. A stipend of $50 per Sunday service is offered. New Hope Hispanic Christian church, as they are also known, is a small, bilingual congregation of 35 members. They sing mostly Spanish songs, but sing bilingual and English as well. • Contact: Call the office at 860-289-0816 if you feel called to this ministry. [12/03]
EASTON — The Congregational Church of Easton seeks a part-time (8 hrs/wk) Church School Coordinator to act as a resource to coordinate and assist in building their Christian Education program. They are seeking to revitalize their Church School and build a strong education program for preschoolers to Eighth graders. This fall they will begin a dynamic new approach to Christian Education, based on the multi- ple intelligences theory and using a rotational learning setting. Responsibilities include the organization, coor- dination and implementation of Church School pro- grams, events and services, with assistance from the Pastor and Board of Christian Education. Hours are flexible, with the exception of Sunday mornings and one or two meetings per month. • Contact: email@example.com; Ms. Judith Wong, Board of Christian Education; The Congregational Church of Easton, UCC, 336 Westport Road, PO Box 37, Easton, CT 06612 [11/03]
HARTFORD — Broadview Community Church is seek- ing a part-time Organist/Director of Music with excel-
lent organ skills and choral leadership ability. Responsibilities include playing regular and seasonal services, directing adult choir and taking an active interest in the possibilities of beginning a children’s/youth choir and other small ensembles. The Church has an excellently cared for Austin 2 manual pipe organ with 16 ranks of pipes, two uprights and one baby grand. Salary negotiable, commensurate with duties. Teaching privileges. Both permanent and inter- im positions will be considered. • Contact: James Reed or Rev. Charlotte Wright at Broadview Community Church, 45 Oliver Street, Hartford, CT 06106; 860-953- 7105. [12/03]
MILFORD — First United Church of Christ is seeking a full-time Minister of Music to play organ and direct five singing choirs and two bell choirs. Two Sunday services. Bachelor’s degree and experience in running a success- ful music program desired. Salary, $33,000-$36,000. Additional income from weddings and funerals. Send resume, audiotape, concert programs and a select list of typical choir repertoire during the past year, and/or other pertinent materials from church positions, by October 30, 2003. • Contact: Music Search Committee, First United Church of Christ, 34 West Main Street, Milford, CT 06460; 203-877-4277 firstname.lastname@example.org [12/03]
SUFFIELD — The First Church of Christ, Congregational (UCC) is seeking a part-time Director of Christian Education (20 hrs/wk) to lead a thriving educational ministry for all ages. Collegial environ- ment, strong congregational involvement. Focus on church school and the nurture of adult faith.
Experience preferred. • Contact: Please send profiles to: CE Search Committee, First Church of Christ, 81 High Street, Suffield, CT 06078; email@example.com; 860-668-7223 [12/03]
TRUMBULL — Part-time Position to work with church’s Christian Education Committee and to do pas- toral visitation. Must have creativity to envision chil- dren’s programs and the skills to recruit and coordi- nate volunteers. Position also involves pastoral visitation and assisting pastor in Sunday worship in an older con- gregation. Ordination optional. Average 15 hours per week, $17,000 per year. • Contact: Please send resume to Rev. Beverly Weinhold, 364 White Plains Road, Trumbull, CT 06611 [12/03]
WATERBURY — Bunker Hill Congregational Church is seeking a part-time Christian Education Director/Youth Group Leader (25 hrs a week/48 weeks a year.) Responsibilities include Sunday School development, oversight of CE programs, recruitment of volunteers, and leading youth groups, all with the support of the Christian Education Committee. Musical background a plus. They are a small church with a great deal of potential to grow. • Contact: Send resume to Teresa Thompson or Rev. Dianne Olson-Easdon, 254 Bunker Hill Avenue, Waterbury, CT 06708; 203-757-0539; firstname.lastname@example.org [12/03]
WILLINGTON — Organist/Choir Director needed for The Federated Church. Responsible for one Sunday morning service and Adult Choir. Periodic special ser- vices and music programs. • Contact: The Federated Church of Willington, 132 River Road, Willington, CT 06279; 860-429-9911; email@example.com [11/03]
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