10 Reasons Why We Love the Karen Refugees of Willmar!

We met the Karen people from Burma/Myanmar 3 years ago when they first came with Nancy Snyder of Grace Baptist Church in Willmar to glean pick. We started hiring them to work for us in 2015– WOW!  Check out 10 ways they’ve blessed us:

1. They pick so much, so fast, that they are racing to grab boxes and hoping we don’t stop them from picking more!

2.  They ask permission to pick what we call weeds, in order to make soup.  Um…YES! Take as many as you want!

3.  My American teen employees went from a daily picking average of 40 pounds to 80 pounds after watching and copying the Karen picking style! 

4. They encouraged me to try new and interesting foods from the Happy Family Grocery Store in Willmar.  Sticky rice and Pad Thai sauce were a hit, jalapeno-flavored seaweed chips were not!

5. Grace Baptist Church in Willmar, that they call home, is so bursting with new life that they built an addition this summer.  I attended a church service there this fall and loved the way the English and Karen languages are beautifully blended in both scripture reading and song.  

6. They prayed for our son when he was sick last winter.

7. They wear colorful red clothing that looks gorgeous in the strawberry patch! 


8. They came to our house to Christmas carol in their native language.  They love to sing praises to God!

9. The younger ones who know English cheerfully help me communicate with those who don’t. 

10.  They will come and glean pick through areas of the field that we are ready to shut down for the season!

      Did you know that there are now over 300 Karen people in Willmar?  They are refugees from Burma/Myanmar, a country that has been ripped apart by 60 years of devastating civil war.  Many of the Karen people have been living in refugee camps in Thailand for up to 35 years.  About 50,000 Karen have been resettled in Canada, Australia, some European countries and the USA.       Minnesota has the largest Karen population in the USA, They come here by their personal request through the UN to get freedom from the meager life in the refugee camps and educate their children.  They repay the US government for flight travel here.  

        About 15%  of the Karen people are  Christian, with a Baptist affiliation, due to the way God blessed the efforts of Adoniram Judson, a Baptist missionary of nearly two centuries ago!    There are now six Baptist churches in the Twin Cities that hold church services in both Karen and English.  The Willmar church is unique in that the Karen and English speaking people have chosen to worship together.   

        Ron & Nancy Snyder have seen the hand of God move in their church over the past four years, as they went from a small congregation to a place bursting at the seams with people on fire for God.  Many people have come alongside them as they work to integrate the Karen people into life in Minnesota through English classes, Christmas gifts, business advice and support, and Biblical mentoring.  

       You can learn more about the Karen people here

or find out how you can participate in what is going at at Grace Baptist Church of Willmar, on N.Hwy 71/23 by Sunray Square. 

                                                       Phone: 320-231-0863

Address: 4307 18th Street NE
(Mail: PO Box 169)
Willmar, MN 56201

Brouwer Berries has been so blessed by the Karen refugees!  Merry Christmas to all, and thanks for taking the time to read this!

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