Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thanksgiving with Karen Refugees [Sara, Urban Neighbor]

Have you ever had dreams fulfilled in a backwards sort of way? I’ve been realizing God puts dreams and passions on our hearts not only for us, but also for others. About eight years ago as a young teenager I heard about the Karen people (pronounced Ka-REN) of Southeast Asia,from the country of Myanmar (Burma). Many of them were Christians and had been oppressed by their government. I got many Karen items like a traditional skirt, shirt and bag through an organization who supports these persecuted Christians. I became divinely obsessed with this people group and I gave a presentation on their plight and culture in my ninth grade world cultures class. I’ve always wanted to go to the area of the world where they live and visit them.

I heard several years ago that Karen people were moving to the Twin Cities. When I moved to Saint Paul this fall, I had some random connections that led me to begin tutoring two Karen women my age in English. I was so excited to finally get to know some of these people God had put on my heart! These two had just arrived to America this summer. One of them had lived in a refugee camp for 10 years. The other is here in a new land without father (passed away) or mother (still in Asia). I have befriended them and helped them with things from trying to understand insurance to learning how to bake muffins. Through the generous donation of food from YouthWorks staff, my Urban Homeworks house was able to put on a Thanksgiving dinner for my students and a bunch of their relatives. The sixteen guests enjoyed the night and loved playing jenga and spoons.

So this is what I mean by having my dreams fulfilled in a backwards sort of way. Instead of going to visit the Karen people in Asia, God has brought them to me and enabled me to bless them here. I still dream to go to Asia to see them and perhaps I will. But it’s not just about me and my dreams, is it? God knew they would be coming and so he put them on my heart so that I would have joy to minister to them here. God is so good, isn’t he? He gives us passions for a purpose beyond ourselves. He gives us dreams to give us joy through giving joy to others.
There are about 3,000 Karen in the Twin Cities and there will be many more coming. They need furniture and clothes when they arrive. If you would like to donate I have contact information. They also need friends and English help. Many of them are our brothers and sisters in Christ. “Therefore as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10 NIV).
To see a short video about the Karen people:
Here is a blog concerning the Karen story from the Karen Community of Minnesota:
Want to assist the Karen?
Contact me at
Or, here is contact information for social service to the Karen:
Wilfred D. Tun Baw
Project Manager
Karen Support Project
C/O Vietnamese Social Services of Minnesota
1159 University Avenue, Suite # 100
Saint Paul, MN 55104
Tel: (651) 645-5940 (W)/ (651) 789-0168 (W)
Fax: (651) 641-8908