Due to unforeseen circumstances in the life of another missionary, I was recently asked to guest teach at Mae Ra Moe Karen Baptist Bible School. A co-laborer here in Thailand had been slated to teach at the Bible school at a Karen refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border for most of the month of June. Since he couldn’t make it, I spent most of June in northwest Thailand near the Myanmar border.
Mae Rah Moe Bible College is situated on a hill above the main sections of the Karen refugee camp inside Thailand. When I arrived in the camp, I was given the option to either stay at the home of a local pastor in the camp, or scale the hill daily to teach at the school. At first I thought that I might benefit a little from the daily hike, but after a couple trips up and down the mountain, I knew I had to stay up above at the school.
This turned out to be the right choice. I was scheduled to teach the Pentateuch, a spiritual growth class, and on average three English classes per day. On top of five hours of class time each day, the students would come to talk Bible and to practice their English after class, often until the candles had burned down low at 10 p.m. or so (I think I was letting them break their school curfew by staying out that late…), and until I was ready to dive under the mosquito net for the night.
The students day starts with dawn prayer at 5 a.m. in the chapel. From there they have daily work around the school grounds from 6-7, then morning chapel service at 8:20, followed by their first classroom hour at 9 a.m. Their school day ends after classes with another chapel service from 3:15-4:00.
All of the Bible teaching I did was in English. The courses I taught were at their Bachelor of Theology level, which is taught in the English language, regardless of whether the instructor is Karen or a foreigner. This proved to be a bit of a challenge for the students, which is why three hours of my class time per day was devoted to teaching English.
What was a challenge for me was being away from my family for two whole weeks. Praise God that my wife was able to come into the camp for the last two days of my stay there. I was so glad to see her arrive in the middle of my second week there. She and our friend Vem Vem were also a great help in the English teaching.
The school and local church leadership in Mae Rah Moe were pretty insistent that I come back and teach again in two weeks time. I told them that was just too soon, but I hope to guest teach again next semester. My main impression was really that their biggest need at present is a full-time English teacher, and they are desperately in need of English bibles and study aids. If you would like to donate any Bibles (NIV) or study aids to the Mae Rah Moe Karen Baptist Bible School, contact me for more information.