The Nations... in Our Backyard
KATHMANDU, Nepal (CNN) -- Bhutanese refugees began arriving in the United States on Tuesday (3.25.08), the first wave of what the United Nations describes as one of the world's largest resettlement efforts.
The U.S. has offered to resettle 60,000 of the estimated 107,000 Bhutanese refugees of Nepalese origin now living in seven U.N. camps in southeastern Nepal -- their home for the past 17 years. Six other nations... have offered to resettle 10,000 each. Source
These refugees registered in refugee camps in eastern Nepal during the 1990s as Bhutanese citizens deported from Bhutan during the ethnic cleansing carried out by King Jigme Singye Wangchuk of Bhutan. Source
An ABWE missionary encouraged our local church to "adopt" one of these Bhutanese/Nepali refugee families. Through the help of a local organization we were introduced to our first of many Nepali families. What began as helping them adjust to life in a new country has through the years ebbed and flowed into many other outreaches - English Classes, Children's Bible Classes, Driving Lessons and much more.
During the summer of 2011 we had just connected with a new community and began weekly Bible classes with the kids living on Green Street. Using The Story of Hope we began teaching the kids about creation and the God who made and loves them.
Each week we encouraged the kids to draw the story (using the Adventures in The Story of Hope Story Boards) and write the story in their own words. Here is *Sita's rendition of...
The Fall of Man
"...Because they already don't follow God so beautiful Anzel (Angel) tell them to get out from there [Eden] and they go but next day God have made them clothes with a sheep so sheep die and they got sheep clothes.”
10 Plagues of Green St.
These last few weeks we have been going through the life of Moses. Here the kids are pictured wearing masks depicting each of the 10 plagues that Egypt endured. In reviewing the story I asked the kids if the bush through which God initially spoke to Moses burned up. *Om confidently told me that no, it burned down!
As part of our lesson on the 10th plague we had each of the kids make a little lamb (bottom right photo) and then talked about how God commanded the Hebrew families to kill a lamb and put the blood on their doorposts. *Durga, a firstborn son (left photo), is demonstrating one of the many unique ways God set His people apart.
Many of these kids had only lived in the US for a matter of months or a few years at most when we first met them, so communicating in English was sometimes a challenge! One boy, *Om, who had been in the US for about a year said, "When I first come I understand no English. One month, two month, three month, I am now!" (i.e. I'm fluent! :)
On Sunday afternoons this mother-daughter team go downtown to one of the many Nepali communities in Harrisburg, PA and have “Sunday class” as the kids call it.
Each week they sing songs together, have a Bible story and enjoy snacks. Right now they’re using the Reflections book and are going through the New Testament stories on the life of Christ.
Working with the Nepali community over the past eight years we've seen a lot of ebb and flow in ministry. We've known very exciting seasons where we had dozens of kids eager to learn and soaking in every word. And we've had seasons of discouragement as the families get settled, learn how to drive and speak enough English to get by... and don't have time for you to visit anymore.
One of the sweetest gifts has been *Sita who we've known since 2011.
Just last night I was FaceTiming with her - reading her another story from Reflections, encouraging her in her school work and praying with her about all the things that are on her heart.
In this season, one of our prayer requests is that God would raise up a high caste believing young man for her, a high caste young woman from a Hindu family who has chosen to place her faith in Jesus Christ.
The Lord has truly brought the nations to "our backyard." Peoples from all over the world live in your city and mine. Lets step out of our comfort zones and share Hope with them.
*Names changed throughout the story.