Last Sabbath was a real blessing to me personally as Pastor Injong "John" Moon invited me to preach and worship with his congregation at Louisville Korean SDA Church. The morning service was highlighted by the official welcome extended by the Louisville Korean Church to it's new members who have recently arrived in Louisville from Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. Due to language challenges, these believers will worship separately from the Koren congregation, but will enjoy the benefit of having a place of worship on Sabbath as well as the needed support of local Adventist believers. The journey of the Karen Adventist's from Myanmar to America has been a long and perilous experience.
In 2005, the U.S. government officially granted refugee status to the Karen people of Myanmar who have been persecuted and driven from their jungle villages along the Myanmar-Thailand border. In many cases, the Karen have had their homes burned to the ground, their village leaders murdered, and their roadways and fields planted with land mines by the Myanmar army who have been at war with guerrilla rebels in the area for many years. Nearly 200,000 Karen have been relocated to crowded unsanitary refugee camps in Thailand and a fortunate few, including around 50,000 over the past eight years, have made their way to the United States.
Myanmar and the Karen people are traditionally Buddhist; however, nearly 400,000 of a population of around 7 million claim Christianity and of that number, Seventh-day Adventists represent one of the largest Protestant denominations, second only to Baptists. It is the old country of Burma where Elder Eric B. Hare pioneered an Adventist education and mission presence in the 1940's, and from his experiences would write one of my favorite childhood mission stories, "Clever Queen." In most cases, it takes years for a Karen refugee to move from their native village, to the re-settlement camps, and eventually, to the United States, some European nations, or Japan, all of whom have granted the Karen refugee status. In most cases, the Karen arrive with no money, no readily marketable job skills, and of course, completely unable to speak or understand English. They desperately need, and greatly appreciate, the support and friendship of their American Adventist family.
My Sabbath worship at Louisville Korean was further blessed by witnessing the baptism of three Karen youth who Pastor Moon had studied with and led to Christ. Pastor Moon does not speak the Karen language, but patiently working with a translator, over many weeks he introduced these new members to God's Church.
I am very grateful to the generosity and mission focus of Louisville Korean Church who recognized a 'mission' project in their own community, and opened their church doors to welcome the Karen refugees. If you have a desire to assist our Karen Adventist friends in Louisville who continue to face many challenges in establishing themselves in Kentucky-Tennessee, get in touch with Pastor Moon who can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On a side-bar note, being in the midst of a move to a new home, I can't find my camera cable to upload a couple of pictures I took at last Sabbath's worship service. When I can load the pictures, I'll post them here on the blog. Blessings in the week!