My name is Nolene Stark and I am the Administration Assistant for Asia Focus Australia, which means that I am the Assistant Secretary, Assistant Treasurer and Assistant to the President when he is away.
I became involved with Asia Focus when I travelled with a tour group to Myanmar,Thailand and Laos with Pastor August. We left Australia on the 21st January 2011 amidst the turmoil of devastating floods and loss of life here in Queensland. However, in Australia, everyone stands behind the victims; the whole nation pitches in to help. The stark contrast for me was landing in Myanmar where I found myself in a totally different world of unbelievable poverty.
Streets were choked by traffic with apparently no rules or regulations about right of way - which didn’t appear to be that dangerous, as people, traffic and whatever else, seemed content to share the space. The broken, sometimes non- existent pavement was lined with tables, stools, chairs and all sorts of stalls, people cooking food and washing up - some even looking as if they were living on the spot. I saw one lady stretched out asleep behind her stall, and now and then, one person searching another person’s head for nits. Children, no more than three or four years old were begging in the streets. Heartbreaking to refuse – but we were told some are not genuine.
I discovered that Pastor August’s mission on this trip was to meet with the many individual pastors and village tribal people, or anyone else seeking the help of Asia Focus. Finding out who was the most genuine, authentic and needy in their request was the problem he was faced with. He often said: “you ask a question once, twice, three or even four times and you get a different answer every time, but you keep on asking until you are satisfied that you have the right answer”. It was obvious that he did not stop until he was satisfied that he had the correct answer. He personallyassesses a need and, if there are funds available, makes sure they go to the exact spot they are needed. To me it was the proof that anyone who did support Asia Focus in any way could be absolutely certain that their support was definitely going straight to the neediest.
This trip changed my life. It instilled in my mind that there are so many needy people in this world – and never more so than in Asia. They desperately need our help and seeing this for myself has inspired me to do the little I can as a member of the Asia Focus Team here in Australia.
Somewhere I read the following:
“Just one life. This is all any one of us has to offer. How can it be used for the greatest glory of God and the greatest blessing to men? How can we be as useful as possible and as effective as possible as Christians?”
Maybe Asia Focus Australia is one small answer for each and every one of us?