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7-10-12 Mission Comes to Indiana
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20,000 Karen and Mizo peoples emigrate to Indiana Conference

Than Than Aye threw her bronzed body into the slurry water. Swinging each limb with fervor, she worked to sink completely under the river’s surface. The knocking pattern of machine guns vibrated through the air and the scrambling whirl of frantic speech, panicked breathing and pounding feet on packed-down soil clouded around the fleeing villagers and ransacking soldiers alike.
 
“Lord, if you just make it stop I will serve you with every bit of me ‘til the day I die!” Than Than Aye prayed in her black liquid hole.
 
Many near-death adventures led Than Than Aye to one of nine Taiwanese refugee camps located along the Thai-Burma border. Keeping her promise to serve God, Than Than Aye shared the education she had received from the Eric B Hare Academy in Burma (renamed Myanmar in 1989) with other tribes who also took sanctuary from the military dictatorship.
 
Now relocated to the United States, Adventist refugees in Indiana continue to serve God. Three primary communities of Adventist Burmese are represented in Indiana. They include the Karen, Chin and Mizo tribes.

Both resilient and gentle, Burmese immigrants do not eagerly solicit charity. Instead, many Burmese Adventists see the U.S. as a new mission field.
 
“People are spiritually hungry,” said Chawngthu, a Mizo Adventist who relocated in January and serves as a pastor figure amongst the growing Burmese population in Indianapolis. ”Now is a good time to tell of Christ. We can fill the cravings people have for certainty with the good news of a heavenly home.”
 
NPR reports that, “By 2007, 7,000 of the more than 3.5 million displaced Burmese refugees were relocated in Indiana, and 100 more continue to arrive each month in Fort Wayne alone.”
 
With more than 5,000 Burmese in 2011, Fort Wayne, Indiana may possibly host the largest community of Karen immigrants in the U.S. Around 40 Burmese adults and their children now call the Fort Wayne Seventh-day Adventist church “family.” Pastor Silas, also an immigrant, reports three more Burmese baptisms on Sabbath, June 9, 2012.

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Kortnye V. Hurst
Indiana Conference Communication Secretary
North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, MD 20904-6600 USA
Telephone: 301-680-6400
Fax: 301-680-6464
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