The Freedom Inn
Christian Freedom International’s Freedom Inn has become a model for immigrant assimilation. This refugee program, with the collective efforts of caring local Christians, has made a monumental difference for the Karen and Karenni refugee families. Many arrived in the U.S. with little, or no, knowledge of the things we take for granted every day. Plumbing, electric lighting, thermostats, regular and balanced meals, bank accounts, atm cards, vehicles–all were new experiences for them. From the jungles of Burma to the deep snows and blistering cold of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
When the resettlement initiative was approved by the U.S. State Department in 2007, CFI successfully fought for the inclusion of Christian Karen and Karenni from Burma. We worked with Former First Lady Laura Bush to convince U.S. and U.N. officials that these persecuted Christians must be resettled. Temporarily moving CFI headquarters to Sault Ste. Marie, MI, we established the Freedom Inn in 2009, a renovated motel which became affordable housing.
The room which used to be the motel lobby now serves as a joy-filled community room for school studies, language classes, celebrations, and even fitness exercises. New arrivals continue to join the community. The old motel pool is a garden where residents can grow fresh produce, many of them Asian items that are not usually sold in Michigan. The children are thriving, two have been state-level Spelling Bee competitors. The current group have all achieved their U.S. citizenship, and several have purchased homes. Praise God, after decades of living in fear and persecution, these refugees from Burma are finally living in peace and freedom.