As believers in Jesus Christ, we are a caring church family dedicated to sharing our faith, hope and love with immigrants from Burma who have found freedom in America.
We serve refugees from Burma by teaching them the Bible and offering them a Family of Christ where they can be a part of, so they will seek to love God and people. By doing this, we believe that our Arizona Karen Baptist Church will be able to become witnesses for Christ through (1) loving our Lord Jesus Christ wholeheartedly – Matthew 22:37, (2) loving, helping, and honoring one another – Matthew 22:39, (3) exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit in their lives – Galatians 5:22-23, (4) demonstrating God’s love to others through serving – Mark 10:45, and (5) supporting and serving in mission fields to spread the Gospel – Acts 1:8.
Our church accepts the Scriptures as our authority in matters of faith and practice. We affirm our allegiance to Jesus Christ and to His church. We seek for ourselves and others the fullness of salvation found in Christ, and a life lived in meaningful relationship to God. We continually seek forgiveness for our sins, and the renewal of our spiritual life through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We seek to discover, through faithful worship and fellowship at the Lord’s Table, the true meaning of Christian discipleship.
Our church is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA on a national basis, and in the Region with American Baptist Churches of Los Angeles, the Southwest and Hawaii.
Our church, Arizona Karen Baptist Church (AKBC), is made up of about 500 Karen refugees from the Burma-Thai border, recently resettled in Phoenix after surviving atrocious persecution by the Myanmar military Junta.
Our ancestors foretold us that our younger white brother would sail across the sea and bring us “the Golden Book, the Silver Book, the Book of Life” one day. In 1813, Adoniram and Ann Judson arrived in Burma as the first missionaries to Burma. Adonirian Judson fulfilled the role of our young brother and brought to us the Bible. Our faith and hope in Jesus Christ are the sole reasons that provided strength for perilous times in our homeland. That same faith now offers hope for the future in the United States.
When we were resettled in Phoenix, we looked for a church in which to worship. In 2002, Pastor and Mrs. Glenn Ramey of West Dunlap church, now known as Cross Connection International Fellowship, embraced us with love and compassion; they will forever hold a special place in our thankful hearts.
In August 2006, Pastor Tha Hgay and family arrived in Phoenix from Htam Hin refugee camp. He is a graduate of Kaw Thoo Lei Karen Baptist Bible School in Mae La, Thailand. He was ordained in 1995. Pastor Tha Hgay was a pastor of Amala Church in Tavoy for five years. He later served as the Executive Secretary for Bleik-Tavoy Kaw Thoo Lei Karen Baptist Convention for five years. In the Htam Hin refugee camp, Pastor Tha Hgay served as a chairman for 15 churches organized under Zone 1. Upon arriving in Phoenix, Pastor Tha Hgay instantly made coordinated efforts for the Karen Christians to organize themselves better as a church. Pastor Tha Hgay and family relocated to Georgia in 2011.
In July 2007, Pastor Tha Hser relocated from California and immediately got involved in the Karen ministry. He is a graduate of Karen Baptist Theological Seminary in Insein, Burma. He worked as a missionary for five years among the Karen who lived in mountains and practiced animism. He served as a pastor for Tha Nay Klay church and Amo Mission church for 10 years. He lived in Maniloi and Htam Hin refugee camps where he also served as a pastor for five years.
Pastor Tha Hgay and Pastor Tha Hser work together to help meet the spiritual and physical needs of the congregation. In 2008, as more Karen refugees were resettled in Phoenix, we outgrew the West Dunlap Church facility and began looking for a more spacious place to worship.
Pastor Stan Crews and the Monte Vista Baptist Church lovingly opened its doors to the Karen congregation in July, 2008. Our church later made a decision to join American Baptist Churches USA in order to partner in Christ, embrace our shared heritage, respond to the plight of refugees, and engage in collaborative ministries in Burma.