Walnut Creek Extends Grand Welcome to Karenni Congregation

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Walnut Creek Karenni held their first service at Walnut Creek Downtown on Sunday, November 1.
Photo by: Alex Michl

In 2013, Mike and Jenessa Lock of Walnut Creek Downtown realized that the Karenni refugees they had come to know did not have a church in Des Moines. Through a relationship with a Burmese woman named Pawdeenya, the Locks began to help her reach Karenni with the Gospel through apartment Bible studies. 

About a year and a half ago, the Karenni Christian Fellowship began meeting on Sunday afternoons at Freedom For Youth Ministries. The Locks, as well as Brandon and Ashley Johnson of Walnut Creek Downtown, helped to facilitate the Sunday service including worship, teaching, and children's ministry. About 80-90 Karenni regularly fellowship together each Sunday. 

Over the last year, Walnut Creek has partnered with the Karenni Fellowship in their ministry, and on November 1, Walnut Creek Karenni held their first service at Walnut Creek Downtown. The Grand Welcome Celebration marked the beginning of the Karenni service becoming part of Walnut Creek Church. 

The service included worship in both the Kayah language and English.
Photo by: Alex Michl
The Karenni comprise nine different people groups, who speak different languages and dialects, from their home state of Myanmar (Burma). Many of the Karenni have lived for years in refugee camps in Thailand before coming to Des Moines.

Fourteen Karenni adults were also baptized during the service, sharing their testimonies of lives changed by Christ. "It was beautiful to be a part of the celebration as many of the older believers began to sing out 'There is a Fountain' while those publicly declaring their faith were entering the baptismal waters," said Mike Lock.

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After the Karenni service, a meal catered by HyVee was served.
Photo by: Alex Michl

After the service, adults and children fellowshipped together with a meal and kids' activities, including the popular bouncehouse. "It was a great atmosphere of celebration," said Mike Lock.

Pastor Tim Rude spoke at the service and gave praise to God for all that has been happening within the Karenni people. Tim says Walnut Creek is excited to join arms with the Karenni people as they join the church and begin to have their own service at the Downtown location.

By Jackie Wallentin 
Walnut Creek Windsor Heights