From Refugee Camp to Northern
By Dr. Greg Mamula
The border between Burma and Thailand is home to nine refugee camps, housing Karen and other Burmese ethnic groups displaced by the ongoing conflicts. Win Bur moved to one of the refugee camps with his family and fellow villagers when he was five years old, for what they believed would be a brief period in the mid-1980’s. Members of his village still reside in the refugee camp over thirty years later.
Win Bur and his family became Christians in the camp in Burma. With the encouragement of his mother and his wife, Win responded to his call to ministry by attending the only Christian college in the refugee system, earning a theological degree while simultaneously learning English because all the classes and books were in English. After graduating, he returned to the refugee camp where his wife and family lived and helped lead the church he grew up in for a couple years before receiving a scholarship to attend seminary in India. Again, with the support of his wife, now children, and family he attended three years of seminary in India, only returning home after earning his Master of Divinity.
After finishing his master’s degree, Win and his wife and children immigrated to the United States and were quickly welcomed by a large Karen population in Omaha, NE. Five years ago, Win and his family became US citizens.
Today he serves as a Pastor to student ministries at the 600 member Kanyaw Baptist Church in Omaha, Nebraska, and is a student in the Doctor of Ministry in New Testament Context at Northern Seminary. Northern alumni Dr. Robin Stoops and Dr. Greg Mamula, both of whom serve on the staff of American Baptist Churches of Nebraska, recommended Win to Northern. Win says, “Northern’s Israel trip changed my perspective on reading the Bible.” The education at Northern teaches me to study the Bible in context, and it “impacts the way I preach and teach.” He is already seeing the results among the students and families in his congregation. “Digging out the real meaning from the Bible text is really exciting. It’s like a new perspective for my church.” “It’s making them better disciples and helping them apply the Bible [in their lives].”
Win and his fellow ministers at Kanyaw Baptist Church and leaders of other Karen speaking Baptist churches also serve as leaders in the Karen Society of Nebraska that helps fellow immigrants navigate life in the United States. They resource refugees through immigration processes, lawyers, healthcare, public school registration and attendance for children, housing opportunities, job applications, citizenship process, and more.
Win says, “We don’t know what the future will bring, or whether we can go back [to Burma]. But God has a plan for his people.”
The partnership with ABC of Nebraska and your financial support make it possible for Win to study at Northern. To learn more about Northern’s global theological education and to support students like Win with scholarships, click here.
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