Fire at Mae La Refugee Camp Destroys Bible School
News by Catherine Nold
May 1, 2012
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.
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.
may be made through One Great Hour of Sharing at http://www.abc-oghs.org/. Or contributions will be accepted by 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.
by Catherine Nold
American Baptist International Ministries missionaries, Roberta Stephens, John and Tomoko Armagost, Gordon and
Lee Ann Hwang and David and Leslie Turley do not reside or work within the 50-mile radius of the damaged Fukushima-Daiichi
Nuclear Power Plant. According to U.S. officials, the 50 mile radius around the plant is now considered
a “need to evacuate” zone.
However, “the safety of our missionaries in Japan is our top priority,” stated Sharon Smart, IM’s
Missionary Personnel and Services team leader.” The IM crisis team and IM missionaries are keeping
a 24-hour watch on the situation. While the team is not taking steps to evacuate missionaries to locations
outside of Japan, discussions are ongoing regarding the possible need for temporary relocation inside Japan.
Missionaries closest to the power plant are Roberta Stephens and Lee Ann and Gordon Hwang, who live near Yokohama
which is 350 miles from the plant. John and Tomoko Armagost live near Kobe, 500 miles away. David and Leslie
Turley live in Okinawa over 1,000 miles away in the North Pacific Ocean.
The decision to evacuate missionaries from Japan will be determined after prayerful consideration and in conversation
with IM’s partners, the Japan Baptist Union, and/or after recommendations by the U.S. embassy.
"3/11 will be etched on our heart and psyche just as 9/11 is imprinted on the American psyche," wrote Rev.
Makoto Tanno, general secretary of the Japan Baptist Union, for the American Baptist Press News. "The reasons are totally
different, but it is a single event which determines how we as a nation will live for many years to come."
“In this season of Lent, we reflect on our own need for the grace of Jesus Christ. We pray for the victims
and their families and for Japan’s faith communities, including our partners, the Japan Baptist Union (JBU), that they
offer hope in a seemingly hopeless time,” commented Dr. Reid Trulson, IM’s executive director.
A $20,000 grant from One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) was released to the JBU for relief efforts. The need
for relief supplies is increasing, particularly in areas where the displaced people are now living, according to Church World
Service. These sites are reporting a lack of food, water, electricity, health and hygiene kits, as well as blankets and stoves,
which are critical giving the current cold and freezing temperature s in the affected regions. Emergency
donations can be made on the IM website http://www.internationalministries.org/items/221, or write a check payable to “One Great Hour of Sharing – Japan Relief” and give to your church, or mail
P.O. Box 851
Valley Forge, PA 19482
One Great Hour of Sharing is administered by the World Relief Committee of the General Board. The Committee
facilitates American Baptist emergency relief, disaster rehabilitation, refugee work, and development assistance by establishing
policy guidelines and overseeing distribution of the annual One Great Hour of Sharing offering.
To read additional journals, prayer requests, news updates and find out how to give to Japan relief, click here.
American Baptist International Ministries, organized in 1814, is the first Baptist Mission organization formed in
North America. We serve more than 1,800 short-term missionaries annually, bringing U.S. and Puerto Rico churches together
with partners in more than 70 countries to tell the good news of Jesus Christ while meeting human needs.
P.O. Box 851
Forge, PA 19482
Coordinator, Volunteers in Global Mission
PO Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482
(222-3872) ext. 2164
American Baptist International Ministries, organized in 1814, is the oldest Baptist
mission agency formed in North America. We serve more than 2,500 short-term and long-term missionaries annually, bringing
U.S. and Puerto Rico churches together with partners in 76 countries in cutting-edge ministries that tell the good news of
Jesus Christ while meeting human needs.
Please give to the relief efforts through your local church
or you may send it to the Putnam Baptist Church
and we will forward it, for you, to the fund you specify.
Thank you for your helping in the world
that has increasing needs from natural disasters.
The Xtreme Team has a website where you can find past team Xperiences, everything you need to
apply, and more information about the program. You can also send us an email to request a DVD. The website is
www.xtremeteamonline.org. To view a short video, go to : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmcswterEpY.
The Xtreme Team, a program of International Ministries, ABC-USA is designed to connect young adults with the global
mission of American Baptists. Our purpose is to grow a passion and interest in mission for the here and now as well as to
cultivate global mission leadership for the future.
Questions?: Call 800-222-3872 ext. 2366
or email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
Coordinator, Volunteers in Global Mission
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