stories from churches in the Twin Cities
Five Oaks Community Church and the Karen community
In 2004, Five Oaks Community Church in Woodbury began helping six Karen refugee families from Burma. Five sponsor teams were formed and they collected furniture and Welcome Kits for the families, welcomed them at the airport, helped them get to initial appointments, and developed life-changing friendships.
Today there are more than 4000 Karen refugees who’ve recently moved to Minnesota, and as the community has grown, so has Five Oaks’ involvement with these new friends.
Each year the church collects back packs and school supplies to give all the Karen school children. In August, two busloads of Karen children came to Five Oaks for a special Backpack Celebration – over 180 backpacks were given to the kids.
As new refugee families arrive in America, Five Oaks and Karen community leaders initiate a food drive to make sure each new family has enough food during their first days in Minnesota.
The Karen people come from a rural area having agricultural experience. This past summer Five Oaks set aside several acres of church property so that 15 Karen elders could plant vegetables. Several members from Five Oaks church joined them and this has deepened the sense of relationship and joy of serving others.
One of the volunteer leaders whose own life was transformed by this ministry said, “You realize the level of compassion that is in your heart. For many of us, that compassion can become buried under the everyday stresses of life. This helps to uncover your true heart.”
Tim and Kara Bubar volunteered to co-sponsor the Tin Soe family from Burma. Showing hospitality to refugee families can be as simple as taking them on an outing to the Como Zoo or collecting basic household items so your church can furnish their new apartment.