Adoniram Judson visiting Karen villages around 1831
Marcia at Grace Baptist Church in Kansas City, MO
Contestants at the singing contest at Grace Baptist in Kansas City, MO
Meal time was well attended at the KBC USA Annual Meeting
Leading worship at the KBC USA Annual Meeting
Taking a picture of the people taking a picture
Some of the attendees at the KBC USA Annual Meeting
Youngest singing contestant at Grace Baptist with coaching from her big sister.
Tomorrow morning (Monday, April 23rd) we’ll be up at three am, picked up at four am and on a plane to Chicago at 6:40 am. From Chicago we’ll go to Shanghai and from Shanghai to Bangkok. If all goes according to plan it will take us 26 hours and 20 minutes to get from Kansas City to Bangkok, arriving in Bangkok at 9:00 pm Tuesday night Bangkok time. This trip will be different than most of the trips we’ve taken back to Thailand in recent years as we won’t be visiting a refugee camp. Instead, we’ll be visiting Burma for the first time so we can look into the written resources available in the languages of the peoples from Burma with whom we are working here in the US. We’ll also be attending a multi-team meeting with our Cooperative Baptist Fellowship colleagues in Thailand and returning to the US on May 10th.
Before we leave though, we wanted to give an update of some of what has been happening with us in recent weeks. As we reported earlier, in December we moved to DeSoto, Kansas so we could be near Central Baptist Theological Seminary and by now, we’re feeling increasingly at home. We still need the GPS to find where we’re going more often than a long time resident, but we’re beginning to “get the picture” and can find more and more places by ourselves.
A you know, we came to Kansas to partner with Central Baptist Theological Seminary (CBTS) to help make available theological training for the pastors and church leaders coming to the US from Burma that have been resettled here. Plans are gradually coming together. The courses we offer are an expansion of CBTS’s FOUNDATIONS program but are targeted at the people from the many ethnic groups found in Burma. One thing that draws so many of the Christians in Burma together is Adoniram Judson. Judson’s name also reminds US Baptists in particular of our common heritage with the people from Burma. With that in mind, it’s been decided that the course we’re organizing will be called FOUNDATIONS Judson Communities.
This is an exciting time to be thinking of Judson and the people of Burma. This year, 2012 marks the 200th anniversary of the Judson’s sailing from the US. Next year, 2013 marks the 200th anniversary of the Judson’s arrival in Burma and 2014 marks the 200th anniversary of the start of the organizations that have led to the formation of International Ministries of the ABC and many other Baptist organizations that continue today. The purpose of these early organizations was to support the mission work of the Judsons and other early missionaries. The American Baptist Historical Society has prepared some special online offerings detailing more of the Judson history. Take a look at http://www.judson200.org/ for more information.
Plans are nearly complete to begin the first FOUNDATIONS Judson Communities classes in August at Ft. Wayne Baptist Church in Ft. Wayne, IN. Karen speaking instructors have been matched with courses so the main thing left to do is get registration forms ready, get the classes publicized and register those wanting to take the classes. We’ll get out more information after we return from our travels in May.
It has been exciting to connect with a new group in the US called the Myanmar Theological Fellowship International (MTFI). It is composed of theologically trained people now living in the US. With many common connections and similar goals to what we are hoping to accomplish with Foundations Judson Communities, we are exploring the idea of forming a partnership. MTFI can be a source of instructors that can teach in the necessary languages and CBTS can help carry out the programs and give them validity. Please be praying as we continue to make plans for partnering together.
In March we enjoyed the chance to go to Lakewood, CO to attend the annual meeting of the Karen Baptist Churches, USA. It was good to renew contact with Karen church leaders we have met from around the US and encouraging to talk with some of the up and coming young people. There are plenty of problems as former refugees come to the US to live, but also a lot of hope. I was encouraged to meet young people with dreams and vision. Increasing numbers are getting into colleges and starting to work toward higher education. Among others, we met a young man wanting to be the first Karen pilot in the US (and maybe anywhere?) and two sisters with 4.0+ GPAs wanting to go medical school, the ministry or maybe both.
The Karen Baptist Churches in the USA (KBC USA) have their own vision as emphasized in the theme of the meeting that came from Acts 13:47. “I have made you a light for the Gentiles that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” I helped translate for a video interview of Thra Tha Hgay who helped found the KBC USA. He said their goal is to grow to be good citizens in US and help bring the Gospel to America and the world. It is exciting to work with people with a vision to do God’s will.
It was also gratifying that at one of the business sessions of the KBC USA meeting they decided to support the Foundations Judson Communities classes. KBC USA members are encouraged to attend classes and their churches are encouraged to help house and host visitors and instructors. We praise God for their support and look forward to August when the first classes will start. We also got requests from other cities to have classes started there. We will work on expanding to more cities but the main challenge will be the availability of instructors able to speak the Karen and Burmese languages.
Marcia has had her turn at doing some speaking. Just before going to Colorado, she was invited to speak at ABW Sunday at Grace Baptist Church in Kansas City, MO. Not only was it women’s Sunday, there was a special talent show for Karen Sunday school children in the afternoon. They had a singing contest that was fun to watch and dinner afterwards.
Shortly after going to Colorado, Marcia then went on a week long speaking tour of Kansas speaking at a different American Baptist Women’s association meeting each day. The women are often the backbone of support for missions and we appreciate what they do very much. Offerings for our work were collected at the meetings through the week and over $1200 was contributed! We thank you very much!
In the last couple months, among other things we’ve spoken at missions conferences, visited churches, finished our first class at Central Seminary as students, received 2000 newly printed Karen/English New Testaments and started selling and distributing them, and “visited” two churches via Skype. Leaving tomorrow, we’ll begin a period where we’ll only be home one week between now and June 5th or so. So we’ll appreciate your prayers as we travel. If you’d like to see what we’re doing along the way, “friend” us and/or CBTS on Facebook. We’ll try to make postings when we can.
As always, we thank you for your support that makes what we do possible. What we do is as much your work as ours and we appreciate your partnership greatly.
Yours in Christ,
Duane & Marcia Binkley