October 3, 2019

By Rebecca White

Tabora John is a freshman at Faith Baptist Bible College. Her journey to Faith is a unique story of hardship and God’s provision and protection.

Tabora was born in a Thailand refugee camp, where she lived until she was twelve years old. Her parents fled for their lives to the camp from the Karen Conflict, one of the world’s “longest-running civil wars.” While in the refugee camp, it was common for her family to lack food and clothing. Life in the refugee camp was rough. Education was poor, and jobs were nearly impossible to get.

In 2013, the American government provided a way for some in the refugee camp to start over, and Tabora’s family was given the opportunity to move to America to the state of Minnesota. Families that applied were required to go through a process of doctor’s checkups, vaccinations, and other steps to make sure they could safely move to America. Tabora’s family of eight, at the time, had difficulty getting all the requirements met, but they worked hard to get everything done. When her family was finally accepted, they packed up and prepared to start a new life.

“I was so excited,” said Tabora. “I didn’t even cry when we left.”

Tabora remembers that the flight and first few days in America were very rough on all of them. They knew very little English and had never flown on an airplane. Finding which flight they were supposed to be on, and when, was a struggle. They stayed in a hotel for a few days in New York, where they found great difficulty with the language barrier.

The food in America was also a challenge. It was very different than anything they had ever eaten, and their digestive systems struggled with such a big change. Tabora recalls that her sister almost fainted due to hunger.

“We were very hungry, and it was exhausting,” she said.

Despite the initial struggles with food, language, and an entirely new culture, when asked what changes were good for her, Tabora had a positive response.

“Everything’s good here compared to Thailand,” she said. “There’s food. You get education, healthcare, and you have freedom.”

After moving to the States, Tabora went to a Christian school where she learned to speak, read, and write in English.

“It was very difficult, and there was a very big change in culture,” she said.

Toward the end of high school, she began to feel more accustomed to American life, though she admits she is still not completely used to it.

Tabora graduated from high school in 2019. Although she was raised in a Christian home, it wasn’t until she attended a summer camp at age 16 that she realized her need for personal acceptance of Christ. God worked in her life, and instead of being bitter because of the trials she had gone through, Tabora saw her childhood as a blessing.

“It reminds me to be thankful for everything that I do have,” she said when asked how she was affected by her past.

Tabora’s older sister, Ehku, encouraged her to join her at Faith Baptist Bible College. Although she had planned to attend her local community college, Tabora decided that she belonged at Faith after she came to visit for FaithFest. She liked the friendly environment and the genuine love the staff showed to the students.

Tabora is a freshman this year pursuing a Biblical Worldview Certificate. After Faith, she hopes to pursue fashion designing with the hope of turning her passion into a ministry with young girls.