Faith in Action for Aug. 2
First Baptist Church
Multi-ethnic ministry in Marshall
During the last three years, a steady group of refugees from the S’gaw Karen tribe has been making its way to Marshall. Many from this tribe, native to Burma, have been driven from their homes and experienced severe persecution at the hands of the dictatorial government of Myanmar. The United States has been among the countries receiving refugees from camps along the Thailand border. St. Paul is home to the largest population of this people group in the United States, in excess of 6,500, according to the Karen Organization of Minnesota.
As employment opportunities draw Karen people to Marshall, their families have looked to find places to establish community priorities. One matter of primary significance to them is a place to worship. The Christian gospel was preached to their tribe in 1828, when the first missionary from the United States, Adoniram Judson, led Ko Tha Byu to faith in Christ. Since then, Christianity has flourished among their people, and many of those who come to the U.S. seek for fellowship with a local Baptist congregation.
First Baptist in Marshall has been happy to receive and include these people as part of their fellowship. While there is a degree of cultural challenge as the populations integrate with one another, these obstacles have not proven insurmountable. Normal worship services regularly incorporate Karen music and hymn singing, and a full Karen language class has been offered since early this year. A class offering English as a Second Language is provided at 6 p.m. every Sunday. The regular programs for children and youth have provided a platform for relationships across the divides as Bible truths are taught.
Sunday mornings have increased to the point where attendance has nearly doubled, with half of those attending being Karen. As the numbers increase, so do the reminders that Jesus is redeeming a people to Himself “out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” If you would like more information about the congregation and its ministries, including the ESL classes and Karen outreach, you may visit facebook.com/FirstBaptistMarshall, call 507-532-6919, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.