Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 107:1
This year an ambitious project to help Christian refugees reached its goal and crossed the finish line.
This Thanksgiving, we give thanks to God and to all who made the Freedom Inn a success!
In 2009, the Freedom Inn opened in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, with a clear mandate: be a safe home for newly arrived Christian Karen refugees from Burma to help them assimilate in America.
The Karen had fled Burma’s brutal military regime and America welcomed thousands to our country. But it was a harsh landing for some. The only life and homes they knew were jungles and refugee camps.
Several contacted Christian Freedom International. They had been assisted by Christian Freedom International inside Burma or a Thai refugee camp before coming to the U.S.
So Christian Freedom International (CFI) bought a quaint motel and refurbished the rooms into small apartments for them.
In no time, word spread among the Karen. They found their way to Freedom Inn.
Over the years, numerous families lived at Freedom Inn. The renovated motel was transformed into a Karen village. The lobby became a community room for classes and gatherings. The pool was drained and fashioned into a garden.
Adults studied to learn English and pass U.S. citizenship exams. Children were tutored by local volunteers. One family’s apartment was decorated with their daughters’ trophies for spelling bees.
Karen and American families intertwined as they lived life together.
When the Karen moved to the upper peninsula Michigan town, the Lane family jumped all-in to help them. Their son J.D. returned from college and offered his beat-up truck to teach them how to drive.
One young woman, Mercy, crashed his truck – and won his heart. They are now married with two little ones.
Big-hearted Jack (aka Santa Claus) and Ginney Kinney bought the house next door to be close to the Karen. They became caretakers of Freedom Inn and grandparents to the Karen families.
Rather than settling into what could have become generational subsidized housing, one by one the Karen outgrew the ‘starter home’ and moved on in freedom. Even then, when Karen families moved away, any excuse for a BBQ or party was enough to drive back for a weekend with their Sault family.
This year, Mu Eh, Aung Sain and their daughters, the last family at the Inn – who cared for the property along with Jack – had saved enough to buy a house nearby.
Just as Freedom Inn’s mission was accomplished, and during an economic down-turn, God provided a buyer.
We held one final gathering in August.
Karen-Americans and local families told stories of fond memories – and marveled at how God used the Freedom Inn to change and enrich their lives by bringing them all together.
One after another, they expressed gratitude to you and others who through Christian Freedom International made it possible.
Two Karen teens sought me out – to ask how they can help other Christian refugees. They want to ‘give back’ by serving in other Christian Freedom International ministries.
Perhaps someday they will teach at CFI’s Victory Bible Academy, our Bible and vocational school for Karen refugees in Thailand.
Christian Freedom International continues to serve persecuted Christians throughout the world. It is a mission with no end until Jesus returns.
But thank God – literally – on this Thanksgiving weekend for a ministry to persecuted Christians that accomplished its goal.
The Freedom Inn was a place where Christians served the persecuted – and all were blessed and enriched.
In December, we will tell you more about our work this year with persecuted Christians. We begin today by thanking God and you for making it possible.