Steve and Annette and The Hope Academy
Daniel Vestal, Executive Coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, with Steve and Annette and the boys of Hope Academy
Ministry to Refugees from Burma
Since 2006, Steve Clark and Annette Ellard have been serving as Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Global Missions field personnel in Louisville in partnership with CHBC.
Steve and Annette welcome the Karen and other refugees from Burma while encouraging churches in Louisville and across the country to build relationships with these refugees and develop ministries to meet their spiritual and physical needs. Primarily a ministry of availability, Steve and Annette share the love of God through pastoral care, social work, crisis management, advocacy, and consulting to refugees from Burma and those who seek to serve them.
In the fall of 2011, Steve and Annette began Hope Academy, a high school providing unique educational opportunities for refugees from Burma. Hope Academy is designed specifically for students who are not being successful in the public school system and who might not complete their high school diploma before aging out due to a variety of factors, including interrupted education in Burma/Thailand, trauma and a multitude of challenges faced as newcomers to the United States.
Hope Academy supports academic, social, physical, emotional and spiritual development as the students work toward a high school diploma. Crescent Hill Baptist Church provides space for the school where students study English (speaking, listening, reading, writing, and grammar), history, science, math, and music. Students also learn through participation in field trips, weekly art therapy and service projects. All teachers for Hope Academy are volunteers.
The school soccer team, Hope Heroes, gives the students an opportunity to participate in team athletic competition. It offers them opportunities for success on and off the field as well as a social outlet for the whole Karen community.
Since 2006, more than 1000 Karen and other refugees from Burma have been resettled in Louisville. Most refugees state that they accept resettlement in the United States for the sake of their children, hoping that they will receive a good education and have a better life. Despite many obstacles—not the least of which is not speaking English when they arrive—many students struggle through, learn English as they go, and integrate well into their American academic life.
Others, particularly those who arrive as teenagers with very little previous education, are unable to catch on and catch up. At the time when most teens are trying to figure out who they are supposed to be in the world, these young men are painfully aware that they can no longer be the person they think they are and that they are not prepared to become the person they want and need to be in their new country and culture. Some suffer quietly; others act out. But really they want to learn. Hope Academy provides a place where those who are committed to completing their high school education can accomplish it while discovering how they truly can be who God created them to be.
If you would like to make a donation to support Hope Academy and the work of Annette Ellard and Steve Clark among refugees from Burma, please mail your contribution to:
Crescent Hill Baptist Church
2800 Frankfort Avenue
Louisville, KY 40206.
For more information about the work of Annette and Steve, please visit the following websites: