FIRM staff shared in the important global history of General Vang Pao’s funeral as they attended and spoke recently at his multi-day funeral service in downtown Fresno. The General died on Epiphany Day, January 6. Rev. Sharon Stanley had also joined other religious leaders and Vang Pao family members earlier in January to speak at a service organized by regional Hmong United Methodist clergy.
Many staff participated in the outdoor ritual procession of the General’s body on the opening day of the services on February 4. Amid sunshine and a helicopter overhead, Hmong of every generation in traditional costumes lined the streets, observing soldiers and families in solemn respect. On Monday, multiple staff members stood in line for more than five hours to speak during an assigned time for Christian religious leaders. Rev. Stanley witnessed to our organization’s compassion for the family and encouraged Hmong leadership to take heart and use this time to build unity and new leadership. Some staff stood in front of a FIRM banner, and Lao Christian staff shared a Lao song of mourning and hope in God. The messages were shared over Hmong radio and television throughout the country.