A Love With No Borders: Owensboro pastor praying to reunite with family

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Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 6:41 AM CST|Updated: Nov. 18, 2021 at 6:49 AM CST
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OWENSBORO, Ky. (WFIE) - An Owensboro pastor is praying for a Christmas miracle this year. After nearly four years, he wants to be reunited with his family.

Family is a word that means the world to Pastor Kamlen Haokip.

As the leader of the Burmese congregation at Bellevue Baptist, he has many friends who are like family to him in Owensboro.

His original plan didn’t include these friends. It didn’t include a lot of things, but it did include what he calls a higher calling and a tough decision.

This family’s story starts four years ago when Pastor Kamlen felt a calling to go back to school.

“I discussed with my wife, ‘Hey darling. I really want to do my further study. What do you think about it?’ And we prayed about it. Making a long story short, God opened a door,” Pastor Kamlen said.

His wife thought he should go for it, but it would require him to come to the United States. She and their daughter would stay behind in Myanmar for two years.

The plan then was to return to Myanmar after completing his education, but when he finished school, a new door opened to lead a congregation at Bellevue. So he prayed with his family once again.

He accepted the job and prepared to bring his family to Owensboro.

In February 2020, Pastor Greg Faulls introduced Pastor Kamlen to the Bellevue congregation, saying they needed everyone’s prayers to get his family to Owensboro.

“We’re hoping in a few months, if not sooner, to have them here a part of Bellevue,” Pastor Faulls said during that February 2020 service.

Hugging his wife and little girl after so long was right around the corner, but so was something else.

A global pandemic.

It’s now been nearly four years since this family of three has been together. Their meals are now shared through a phone screen. Oceans separate their prayers.

“It’s a hard thing. When you pray about it, and you expect your family to be joining, but suddenly, you just hit. . . boom,” Kamlen said, hitting his fists together.

The pandemic made a complicated process even more challenging. Embassies closed and travel restrictions shut down borders, but this family set their eyes on a new year, hoping their day would finally come.

However, 2021 had the biggest challenge yet.

A civil war broke out in Myanmar, forcing his wife and little girl to run for their lives.

“There’s no rest in Burma. My whole family had to leave my hometown and run for their lives,” he said.

His wife and daughter safely made it to a neighboring country. They lived in close quarters with family and friends as the pandemic reached unprecedented levels in that area. His little girl saw the violence first hand before getting out.

“Whenever she heard the gunshot and whenever she saw all of those things, she was really scared. Whenever we would talk she would say, ‘Daddy, I’m so scared. Daddy, I can’t sleep.’ and she used to say, ‘Daddy, why are you so far away from us?’”

Those are words that would keep any parent up at night.

However, Pastor Kamlen and his family aren’t losing hope. It’s their love that’s brought them this far.

“People used to say when we are distanced for many years, the feeling will go out, or something like that, but God never gives such heart. Our love is increasing more and more,” Kamlen’s wife said through a phone screen.

“We’re falling in love day after day.”

A love with no borders. The waiting continues, and Pastor Kamlen’s Owensboro family continues to pray for this overdue reunion.

“I pray to God, you know, you have given us your son as a Christmas gift. But this year, I pray that you would give my family as a Christmas gift.”

The pastoral staff at Bellevue say they’ve been helping Pastor Kamlen communicate with Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell’s office about this situation, and they have made strides.

For now, they continue praying and hope for good news soon.

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