Karen Baptist Youth Conference focuses on building
self-confidence, balancing cultures
|Approximately 350 youth and their adult leaders attended the Karen Baptist Youth Conference at Houghton (N.Y.) College in July 2011. Photo by Law Eh Soe
Approximately 350 youth and their adult leaders participated in workshops, worship and Bible study at the American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS)-co-sponsored Karen Baptist Youth Conference at Houghton (N.Y.) College in July.
With its “Be a good example” theme from I Timothy 4:11-12, the conference sought to foster Karen youth’s understanding of their history, culture and American Baptist faith so that they could gain the self-confidence necessary to live as good examples. The event also offered advice for adjusting to life in the United States and balancing Karen and American cultures.
“I learned so much from this conference, and it gave me so much encouragement to go back to my home church and apply the knowledge,” says Hayblu Htee, 16, of San Diego Karen Baptist Church.
“Who Am I?”, a workshop led by the Rev. Florence Li, director of Asian Ministries at ABHMS, focused on the issue of “fitting in” by asking questions such as “How do I make friends with people who are different from me?” Stress, pressure, teasing and bullying were addressed in “Dealing with Life’s Stresses,” a workshop by Daniel Cribb, an interpreter at Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees, Utica.
Saw Kapi, associate director of Undergraduate Admissions at the University of Maryland, College Park, discussed navigating the American educational system in the workshops “Preparation for College Admissions” and “Seeking Education in the U.S.: Challenges and Possibilities.”
“Work in the USA: What to Expect, What is Expected” and “How Can I Help My People? Training & Occupations” were presented, respectively, by Marcia and the Rev. Duane Binkley, American Baptist missionaries jointly appointed by International Ministries and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. While the former workshop provided a basic understanding of American business and work culture, the latter explored various careers available in nonprofit organizations.
“I am glad I attended the conference and got to know so many Karen young people,” says Theodore Aung of Florida, who will attend Judson University, Elgin, Ill., in the fall. “We have a lot to contribute.”
The conference’s 20 stewards, or youth volunteers, led the way in living the conference theme of setting a good example, notes the Rev. Rothang Chhangte, ABHMS liaison for Burma refugees and conference coordinator.
“They worked tirelessly and joyfully and contributed to making the conference a success,” she says. “They were a shining example for other youth, and I was so proud of each one of them and the hard work they put in during what were some of the hottest summer days.”
Sponsoring the conference with ABHMS were Karen Baptist Churches USA, Buffalo Karen Baptist Church, the Burma Refugees Task Force and International Ministries.
“I am truly grateful to the leadership of the Rev. Saw Ler Htoo and Karen Baptist Churches USA and to Buffalo Karen Baptist Church, whose members raised 50 percent of the costs to support the conference and volunteered their time to provide meals and transportation,” Chhangte says.
During the youth conference, 30 immigrant pastors attended “Summer Courses for Ministry Leaders from Myanmar/Burma” at Houghton College. Offered were “Missional Church” by the Rev. Dr. Ronald Carlson, ABHMS missional church strategist, and “New Testament Review” by Dr. Eh Wah, past president of Myanmar Institute of Theology and professor of New Testament Studies.
The courses were sponsored by ABHMS, Central Baptist Theological Seminary, the Burma Refugees Task Force and various American Baptist Churches USA regions.
For information pertaining to Burma refugees, contact Chhangte at Rothang.Chhangte@abhms.org, 1-800-222-3872, x2426, or 610-768-2426. For information about ABHMS’ Asian Ministries, contact the Rev. Florence Li at Florence.Li@abhms.org, 1-800-222-3872, x2468, or 610-768-2468.
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