Duane and Marcia Binkley are missionaries based in the USA working with Burmese refugees
Duane and Marcia serve Burmese ethnic Karen and Chin refugees both in the United States and Thailand. They work with the tens of thousands of refugees coming to the U.S. while continuing to work with those still remaining in refugee camps along the Thai-Myanmar (Burma) border.
They write: The last few days of April were spent in Rangoon/Yangon in Burma. 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.
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.
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!
• 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.