VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 8/7/20)—Eric and Yuree Lembke have been endorsed by International Ministries (IM) to begin the process of raising support to serve as global servants to Thailand.
Yuree, a member of the Karen ethnic group, was born in Myanmar, and at the age of three, her family fled persecution by crossing into Thailand. She grew up in a refugee camp in Thailand until, as a teenager, her family was resettled to the US. Yuree attended high school and then went on to Bacone College in Oklahoma, where she earned a degree in Christian ministry and a certificate in Christian counseling. Yuree loves people and desires to make a difference in their lives, and she loves Christ and wants to share that love with others.
Eric grew up in Wisconsin, attending an American Baptist church and being involved in Camp Tamarack, an American Baptist camping ministry in Wisconsin. Eric also attended Bacone College, where he studied Christian ministry. His dorm included about 30 refugees from Myanmar, a mix of Chin, Karenni, and Karen ethnic groups. There, Eric felt a call to serve the Karen people. As Eric says, “It was the stories that my Karen friends told me that touched my heart. I knew then that God was calling me to serve them.” He spent much time in prayer for a path to serve in Northern Thailand. Through God’s providence, he was assigned to tutor Yuree. They realized that they shared a passion for mission and for the Karen people, and not long afterwards, they were married.
Eric is currently working as an e-commerce analyst and as an assistant pastor at Bacone College Baptist Church. Yuree has provided leadership at several summer camps in the Central Region over the past three years and participated in the Bacone Praise Team which traveled within the region.
In 2018 Yuree and Eric took a significant step by attending IM’s Hear the Call Retreat in Green Lake, Wisconsin. Eric states, “It was a good step for us to attend the Hear the Call Retreat in July 2018. It allowed us time to reflect on our call together and to see the steps toward working with IM.” Their experience at this retreat solidified God’s call upon their lives to serve as global servants, and their mission trip to Thailand in May 2019 was a further confirmation of God’s call to them to serve in Thailand.
Rev. Dr. Rodney Ragwan, IM’s director of mission mobilization, writes, “During the early stage of the discernment process, it was very evident that God had placed his hand on Yuree and Eric to serve as Global Servants to the Karen people. IM’s Hear the Call Retreat played an important part in that discernment process. We are excited that Yuree and Eric responded to God’s call.” Ragwan further adds, “We look forward to seeing how God is going to use their cross-cultural experience, education and other skills as well their love for the Karen in their mission in Thailand.”
Eric and Yuree will serve at the Kwathoolei Karen Baptist Bible School and College (KKBBSC) in Mae Sot, Thailand. At the school, Eric will teach English and other subject areas and will use his computer skills to assist the school with support in technology as well as with website building and maintenance. Yuree will use her background in counseling to teach counseling and English to the students. They will make trips to Myanmar to teach and conduct Bible classes for young children in the Karen state.
“As I have heard the unique individual stories of Yuree and Eric and then the story of their life and calling together as a couple, I marvel at God’s leading. Each was prepared by their separate experiences and challenges so they could serve Him well together. I am excited to see how they will be used to minister to those living on the Thailand/Myanmar border”, writes IM’s Area Director for Southeast Asia and Japan, Rev. Leslie Turley.
Dr. Gregg Hemmen, executive minister of the American Baptist Churches of the Central Region shares his experience of Eric and Yuree, “I had the privilege of sitting down with Eric and Yuree in March 2020 and it was exciting to hear about their passions for ministry. It’s obvious that God has stirred something within them and I look forward to seeing what God will do with those stirrings in the lives of people in Thailand and Myanmar. They are part of that next generation of global servants that will be used by God to enlarge the Kingdom.”
Yuree and Eric are working now to build their mission partnership team and raise the funds needed to begin their ministry in Thailand.
More information about Eric and Yuree is available on their profile page on the IM website.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.