Sunrise at Dolphin Bay, site of CBF Team Meetings in Thailand
Meeting with some of the Chin at the Green Lake Mission Conference
Some of the Karen leadership we met with in Rangoon
Headquarters of the Myanmar Baptist Convention in Rangoon
Meeting with the General Secretary of the Myanmar Baptist Convention
Night market in Hua Hin, Thailand near our CBF Team Meeting
Choir from Carson Chin Baptist Church, Milwaukee, WI singing at the Green Lake mission Connference
Singing Jesus Loves Me in Karen at Green Lake Missions Conference
With three Karen from Grace Baptist in Kansas City, MO at Green Lake
Chin choir from Columbus, OH at the Chin Baptist Churcehs, USA meeting in Indianapolis
Dr. Simon among his burned books and papers. He's standing where his house had been with the rest of the destroyed Bible School in the background.
In our last general update in April we were about to leave for Thailand and Burma. Since then, we’ve been traveling almost non-stop to meetings, churches, conferences and events in the US as well as overseas. We’ll summarize some of the highlights here.
Burma and Thailand Trip
In what has become a theme this summer, we arrived in Thailand at the peak of the hot season and according to the Bangkok Post, we were there for the hottest day Bangkok had seen in 30 years. It might have been even hotter in Chiang Mai and Rangoon, but heat is to be expected when going to that part of the world in April.
The last few days of April were spent in Rangoon/Yangon in Burma. It was our first real trip into Burma so it was exciting to finally be there and see some of the places we have heard about for so long. We could only stay for 4 days but we got to meet a lot of people and greatly appreciated the gracious hospitality we received.
Burma has been in the news for recent reforms. Some from Burma are giddy with excitement and feel that real and lasting change for democracy has arrived. Others are more cautious. They are glad to see the reforms and are taking advantage of them but have a “wait and see” attitude before they let themselves feel that democracy has arrived. Still others, particularly people like the Kachin who continue to be actively attacked, have only seen change for the worse.
Most of the Karen we know take a wait and see attitude and that is how we personally, see the situation. Praise God for the positive changes that have occurred, but we recognize too that there is a long way to go. Under the best of circumstances, it will be years before issues like the displaced living inside Burma can find permanent homes, land mines are found and cleared and some system to safely repatriate refugees from Thailand, Malaysia and other countries in the region is put in place.
On the political front, the US has already lifted many investment restrictions and is loosening sanctions in response to the changes in Burma. Many with a concern for human rights feel too much has been lifted too soon. See http://www.uscampaignforburma.org/ for more information and how to be of help.
While in Rangoon, we learned that the Kawthoolei Karen Baptist Bible School and College at the Mae La Refugee Camp burned completely. Nothing was left. Since we were in Thailand, we made a side trip to look over the situation and to talk with Dr. Simon about plans to rebuild. At this point, new building is underway even as classes are being held. Students help with the building process after class.
One of the reasons we went to Thailand was to attend CBF Team meetings that were held at The Juniper Tree, a Christian retreat center on the Gulf of Thailand. The beautiful location was made all the more enjoyable by the collection of colleagues involved in remarkable work for the Lord all through the region.
World Mission Conference in Green Lake, Wisconsin
In May it was great to be back at Green Lake for the World Mission Conference. It is energizing to meet up with colleagues, supporters and those with a heart for missions. Making this conference more special was that part of it focused on the 200th anniversary of the sailing of Adoniram and Ann Judson that eventually took him to Burma. The Judson’s sailing started not only the mission movement in America and the church in Burma, but called Baptists together in the US to form denominations and mission organizations that are with us today. To help mark Judson’s role, a Chin choir from the Carson Chin Baptist Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin sang at one of the evening services, Pastor Ronald Charles of Carson Chin Baptist Church led a workshop and Dr. Angelene Naw, a Karen and now history professor at Judson University led a workshop and participated in an evening program. The Chin choir even taught some of the conference attendees how to do Chin dancing at one of the afternoon sessions.
Chin Baptist Churches-USA Conference
Another highlight was attending the biennial conference of the Chin Baptist Churches, USA in early July. Three thousand or more came to Indianapolis from 57 member churches located all over the US. Several hundred attended business meetings on Friday, and then all of Saturday and Sunday from morning until 10:30 at night was dedicated to praising and worshipping God. We didn’t understand much of what was said, but the spirit and energy of 3000 people singing and praising God together is infectious. In giving greetings to the group, we made the joke that the name should be changed to “Chindianapolis” as it seemed it was their city for that weekend!
Other places we’ve visited since we last wrote include Karen congregations and churches working with Karen in Grand Island and Chadron, Nebraska, and Akron, Ohio. We’ve also visited Chin in St. Joseph, Missouri and Dallas, Texas and attended part of the annual CBF General assembly in Ft. Worth. We’ve been to Ft. Wayne, Indiana as well and it looks like we’re ready to start the first FOUNDATIONS Judson Communities classes there in August. Next up is another trip to Ft. Wayne for the annual Karen Baptist Churches Youth conference at the end of July.
On the family front, everyone is doing well. Sean is still in Egypt at least until the end of August. He has finished the job he was working at, and is now volunteering at a Coptic Christian retreat and conference center between Cairo and Alexandria. Please pray for him as he considers his next step.
Erin and Shannon are spending their third consecutive summer on the staff at Camp Judson in northwest Pennsylvania, both serving this summer as lifeguards. They really enjoy working there. In August, Erin will return to Judson University for her Junior year and Shannon will change schools and begin her sophomore year at Malone University in Canton, Ohio.
We thank God for you all as you make our work and travel possible. We are grateful for your faithful support and partnership. With you and the Lord’s leading, we look forward to what God has in store for the months ahead.
Yours in Christ,
Duane & Marcia Binkley