Aung Tun | Courtesy Aung Tun
AUNG TUN WAS BORN IN BURMA and grew up in Mae La refugee camp in northwest Thailand, the largest camp for Karen refugees in Thailand. As of June 2019, over 50,000 refugees still reside there.
Aung was ten when his father passed away, and his already hardworking mother was forced to take on additional work to provide for him and his two younger brothers. To help, Aung dropped out of school and found a job tending cows.
When his mother was imprisoned for two years, he and his brothers were accepted into another family by a caring and sympathetic woman. A devout Baptist, she took the boys to church and taught them about the Bible, resulting in Aung’s baptism. Eventually, he met a young woman who introduced him to Adventist beliefs, and Aung was rebaptized into the Adventist church. They were soon married and, in 2011, the couple came to the U.S. as refugees and restarted their lives. “I worked hard for my family and had no time to care for my spiritual life,” Aung says. “I let myself get further and further away from God as time went by.”
On a whim, his wife began looking for the woman who had adopted Aung and his brothers all those years ago. She found her in Wisconsin. Despite his hesitancy to reconnect with someone who would expect him to be committed to Christ, Aung and his family moved to Wisconsin in 2016.
“We began to attend church every Sunday,” he explains, “and the Holy Spirit worked with renewed vigor, encouraging me to find the truth.”
Upon discovering a childhood friend now living in Rockford, Illinois, Aung and his family began attending the Adventist church there. Not long after, the Holy Spirit led him to accept a leadership position in starting a church plant. God led him to other Karen Adventists in Wisconsin, and together they began worshiping in homes until February 2017, when they officially started an Adventist group in Milwaukee. “
Although the devil continues to attack us, the members encourage me to be strong,” Aung says. “They remind me often that God chose me to lead for a reason, and He will be with me.”
Thanks to the generosity of a Wisconsin Adventist Church, the group is able to worship in their own language every Sabbath afternoon in a dedicated church building. “Despite my unworthiness to lead, God chose me to work with Him, and I am joyful,” Aung says with a smile. “I thank God for inviting me to join Him in His work, and I will continue to follow God’s plan, working hard to fulfill my part.”
“Despite my unworthiness to lead, God chose me to work with Him, and I am joyful,” Aung says with a smile. “I thank God for inviting me to join Him in His work, and I will continue to follow God’s plan, working hard to fulfill my part.”
Interview by Daniel Chit, Edited by Becky St. Clair