Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Is your name in the Book of Life?

What is your name? It is usually one of the first questions people in America will ask. But, I know that for some coming from the refugee camps in Thailand or from Burma , it isn’t an easy question to answer. I know some who were given names by a UN worker that didn’t understand or wasn’t too concerned about listening to the name they were being told. So now, the person has a name that means nothing to them. Then there is the confusion when Americans want first names, middle names and last names when Karen and Burmese usually just have a name. Even in English, Paw Wah (White Flower) sounds like a single thing. But in American style, Paw (Flower) becomes the first name and Wah (White) becomes the last name whether we like it or not.
The Bible tells us that names are important. God’s name is described as “majestic” or sacred and Jesus’ name is above all names and at the sound of it, we will all bow down. And as for us, Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is to be more desired than great riches.”
Lately, I have helped some Karen and others from Burma find some jobs here in Akron , Ohio . We have the usual struggles filling out the forms including getting the names all straight. But finally when the boss offers the job there are smiles all around. For some, they have told me this is the first job they have had so it is very satisfying for me to see them be able to start working. So far, I am also very happy to say that as Proverbs says, those in these jobs are making “a good name” for them selves and for the Karen people. A few people started a seasonal job on a farm. The farmer was so happy that he told a vegetable packaging plant about the good workers from Burma . The packaging plant owner told another business and a couple more are working there now. This business has recommended another place that needs workers so we will go there next. In the meantime, a roofing company will be hiring 6 more people. At a time when the economy is bad and in Ohio where the economy is supposed to be worse than other places, it is exciting to have these jobs open up. It also shows the power of making a “good name” for yourself and your people.
Even more important than making a good name for ourselves where we work though, is keeping our name in the “Book of Life”. No matter what the UN official wrote on our form, the Lord knows our name and knows all we think and do. America is a land of opportunity but also a land of temptations. Once getting a job and getting some money, then we need to make good decisions about how to use that money and how to use our time. Looking around, we can see many in America who make poor decisions and then struggle with problems in life. So may we bring honor to the Lord and make a good name for ourselves by working hard and keep our name in the Lord’s Book of Life at the same time.

Duane Binkley