International Ministries

Fire at Mae La Refugee Camp Destroys Bible School

May 1, 2012 News
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A fire has destroyed the Kawthoolei Karen Baptist Bible School and College and other buildings in Mae La Refugee Camp on the Thailand/Myanmar border. Camp residents managed to put out the fire after about an hour, according to Karen News.

“The Bible School has a long history and has been instrumental in so many ways as a ministry to the refugees [from Myanmar] along the Thailand/Myanmar border,” according to Stan Murray, American Baptist International Ministries (IM) area director for Southeast Asia and Japan. “The school trained young people who then serve in ministry both in the refugee camps and in the countries where many of the refugees are settling, including in the U.S.”

The news of the fire came from IM missionaries Duane and Marcia Binkley who are now traveling in Myanmar. The Binkley’s share this email message from Blooming Night Zan, resident of a nearby town. “The fire started from Pastor Simon's house…. Everything was completely destroyed. Only the frame of the building was left.”

She continues, “Many of you will remember the place where you sleep, you eat, you worship, you tell the words of God, the place where more than 300 students gather and study, now was destroyed by fire…. God will provide what his children need.”

The Kawthoolei Karen Baptist Bible School & College was established and started on June 9th, 1983 at Htee K'Haw, near Mae La village in Pa-an district of Kawthoolei (Karen State). In 1990, the long existing civil war between the Karen and the Burmese (which began in 1949) made it necessary for it to move to its current location at the Mae La Refugee Camp in Thailand. 

After the move, the school continued its ministry of teaching and equipping young and old, men and women in Mae La camp which is housing more than fifty thousand people. American Baptists were a part of the organizing bodies and have supported this school since its arrival at Mae La through encouragement, donations, and volunteers.

Many of the graduates have wound up in the US and are often the principal church and community leaders.  Refugee resettlement has amplified the school's international significance and many American Baptist churches are benefitting from the efforts of KKBBSC graduates.  IM has sent several volunteers there to teach for various lengths of time and has made financial contributions.  

Contributions may be made through International Ministries. Mail your check made payable to International Ministries (mark Mae La Fire on the memo line) and mail to: P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482.