by Wayne Wyatt
So what is a “Balcony Christian”? It is a term that Marlene and I have used to refer to ourselves. Every Sunday we would come to church, sit up in the balcony, and that is about all we would do. Sit there, shake hands with a few people, sing a few hymns, give a little money, say the Lord’s Prayer and listen to the sermon. The odd time we might help out with ushering, and with Time for Friends and a few other activities, but most of the time it was comfortable to just sit in the balcony and not get too involved. But God had other plans; plans that were far beyond our imagination.
Action Makes Faith Come Alive
It all started when the Karen refugees came to Regina. The Canadian government through Immigration Canada decided to sponsor a large number of Karen refugees to come to Canada. Most of these refugees were Baptist Christians and so Open Door, Regina’s multicultural organization, asked if First Baptist would be interested in being host to about 100 Karen people who would soon arrive. First Baptist said yes, and many people in First Baptist came forward to help the Karen adjust to life in Canada.
I will always remember when Walter and Audrey Frolic asked us to be hosts for a Karen family. Marlene said she would and I said, “Just a minute here. These people don’t know how to speak English, they come from a different culture and this is going to be a lot of work”.
As I look back on this, I was correct. There was, and still is a lot of work in helping our many Karen friends, but when God calls you to get to work, and you listen to Him, you find out that there is satisfaction that makes your soul sing of God’s many blessing. In serving Him, faith comes alive. We had stopped being Balcony Christians. Philemon 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me”.
In serving Him, faith comes alive. We had stopped being Balcony Christians.
In His Service
It has been almost five years since we have started to work with the Karen people. In being of service to them, we have travelled to many cities in Canada visiting Karen communities. We have helped create the Karen Baptist Fellowship of Canada. We have helped them to find jobs, furniture and housing, and helped them with visits to teachers, doctors, dentists and physiotherapists. One of the most satisfying things that Marlene has done is the creation of the Karen Ladies Prayer group that meets once every two weeks. Marlene provides transportation so these ladies can get together. Here is a photo of them at their last meeting.
We have even gone all the way to Thailand to visit the refugee camp from where the Karen people in Regina came.
As we have worked with the Karen, our spiritual life has deepened, and we are often reminded of the words from James 2:17 “ Faith, if it hath not works, is dead”.
If you wish more information on the Karen situation in Burma, a good website is: Karen News.
Mae La Oon Refugee Camp, Thailand (top of page).
Karen Ladies Prayer Group (middle of page).
First Karen Baptist Church Regina (bottom of page).