Lunch at Karen regional gathering in Akron, OH
Duane & Pastor Heh Nay Thaw at West Chicago Karen Baptist Church
Karen at workshop in Utica, NY
Congregation at Karen service in Syracuse, NY
TIM Gathering of Pastors and church leaders doing refugee ministry at Valley Forge
Erin singing at FBC Elgin, IL
Kids choir singing at West Chicago Karen service held at Faith Baptist Church, Geneva, IL
As I write this during Holy Week, we pray you will know the love shown by Christ as he died for us and the joy as we celebrate that He has risen indeed!
Winter has been grudgingly giving way to spring (at least in some places) so we wanted to give an update of some of the events we have been a part of over the last month. First, in mid-March a gathering of pastors and church leaders involved in ministry with Karen, Chin or others from Burma was held in Valley Forge. Sponsored by the Ministers’ Council and funded by a Lily grant, the meeting was to give those involved with refugee ministry a chance to meet and share together. The end result was the formation of seven “Together in Ministry” (TIM) groups. These are small groups of 5-7 people that will meet periodically either electronically or in person to share with each other about challenges and solutions and to offer support to each other.
Shannon, our youngest, is a senior in high school and had her spring break the last week of March. Over several days we took her on a final tour of colleges in Indiana and Michigan. With that tour and the final round of financial aid offers from the schools, Shannon has decided she will go to Indiana Wesleyan University this fall.
Shannon’s college tour took us close to Chicago, so we also went to visit Erin who is at Judson University in Elgin, IL. We visited the First Baptist Church of Elgin that Sunday morning and had some time to share about our work. We also got to hear Erin who is singing and playing the acoustic guitar with the praise team at First Baptist. On Sunday afternoon, Duane preached at the Western Chicago Karen Baptist Church which worships at the First Baptist Church of Geneva, IL. People there were quite excited to have the new Karen-English New Testaments and all we had brought with us were sold.
April 8 – 10 found us in Utica and Syracuse New York. On Friday and Saturday (April 8 – 9) we helped teach and translate at a training program for Karen and Chin church leaders sponsored by the ABC of New York and the ABC Home Mission Societies. Thirty to forty Karen and Chin attended from Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Utica. Subjects taught ranged from church structures and legal status, to working with the youth, to information on US taxes and personal finance management.
Utica, NY is home to the second largest Karen community in the US and Tabernacle Baptist Church in Utica is the church home of a large number of Karen living there. So Sunday morning we had time to share in the English service at Tabernacle, and then Duane preached at the Karen language service. After the Tabernacle Baptist service, we went an hour down the road to Syracuse and Duane also preached at the Karen service there.
This past weekend, the Akron Karen Baptist Church hosted the regional gathering of the Karen Baptist Churches in the USA (KBCUSA). Karen from Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee came to Akron Ohio to fellowship, meet and worship. About 120 attended the Saturday business meeting and meal with over 200 attending the Sunday morning worship service. Special thanks goes to the First Baptist Church of Akron who made their facilities available to the Karen. On Palm Sunday morning they had three overlapping services in three locations in the building. So First Baptist was a busy place but there was room for everyone to Praise God in their own way and in their own language. How appropriate that the Karen could hold their meetings in Judson Hall!
Looking to the month ahead, one or both of us will be speaking and/or teaching in Champaign, IL, Zanesville and Cincinnati in Ohio, San Diego, CA, Phoenix, AZ and we’re helping organize a program on educational opportunities for the Karen here in Akron, OH. Of course, we can only do our work because of your partnership with us. So thank you for your continued support and we look forward to see what God has in store in the days ahead.
Resurrection blessings to you all!
Yours in Christ,
Duane & Marcia