United Church of God

Wisconsin Congregation Holds Congratulation Ceremony for New U.S. Citizen and Family

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Wisconsin Congregation Holds Congratulation Ceremony for New U.S. Citizen and Family

Our village was burned. Our Karen people were tortured and killed. With this happening, my family had to flee to a refugee camp on the border of Thailand. 

“In 2000, we learned the Bible from Margaret Hla Htoo. In 2003, we were baptized by minister Leon Sexton in Thailand. Our Bible knowledge continued after our baptism through Mr. Rayon Foster. He often came to our home in the Thailand refugee camp teaching us the Bible. 

“In June of 2010, our family was able to come to the United States through the United Nations recruiting and the U.S. government sponsoring us.  

“We lived in Salem, Oregon, for eight years. We moved from Oregon to Rockford, Illinois, in 2018. We decided on this move because Karen people lived in Rockford, and they spoke our native language. Also, the cost of housing was more affordable for us in Rockford, Illinois.” 

In 2020, Baw, the husband of Paw, with their four daughters, applied for U.S. citizenship. Due to COVID-19, this process took a year to complete instead of the usual six months. The process to be a citizen includes performing a biometric (taking Baw’s fingerprints). Baw was given information about how our country works as a government. He learned about American history and law and was tested extensively on this information. Upon passing this test for U.S. citizenship Baw was included in a ceremony where he took the oath to be a U.S. citizen in July 2021. 

To honor Baw’s being a citizen, the Beloit, Wisconsin, congregation held a “welcome as a U.S. citizen social” in his honor. Baw was presented with a U.S. portfolio to contain his citizenship certificate. He also received a special card signed by the congregation and a lapel pin with embossed inscription reading “Proud To Be An American.” This pin was presented to Baw by the late Mr. D’Alessandro, pastor of Beloit at the time. Corsages and a boutonniere were given to the family as well. 

It was not lost on all the Beloit brethren how encouraged the Htoo family was, joyfully remembering also the new citizenship in heaven that is for all of God’s people everywhere: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21). 

Baw’s goal has been to have “a better life and future for my wife, my children, and myself in the United States.”