The aging members of Rhems United Methodist Church prayed that they would once again have children bustling into their sanctuary.
God answered their prayers — but not the way they expected.
Today, the country church in New Bern, North Carolina, buzzes with the energy of young families. Its choir can fill the front of the church, and its youth group of about 20 teens can fill multiple pews.
Most of these new United Methodists are Karen (pronounced Kah-REN) refugees or the children of Karen refugees. They came to the U.S., by way of Thailand, after being driven from their native Burma by one of the world’s longest civil wars.
In a small town about two hours southeast of Raleigh, they are building a new life and reviving a church.
“Every Sunday, I look out and think, ‘This is a miracle,’” said the church’s pastor, the Rev. Connie Stutts. “I can’t believe I get to be part of this.”
This story might sound familiar to anyone who has seen a trailer for the movie “All Saints,” opening Aug. 25 across the U.S. The movie, starring John Corbett, is based on the experiences of the real-life All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Smyrna, Tennessee, about a half hour south of Nashville.