For those of you who are new to the Church, or are not as familiar with the thriving fellowship God has created among our Bhutanese brothers and sisters, a little history may be helpful. The United Nations partnered with the United States in the resettlement of Bhutanese living in refugee camps in Nepal for over 20 years. Having been expelled from their home country of Bhutan, and not able to gain citizenship in Nepal due to political issues, they were in need of a new start in the United States.
Outreach to Bhutanese refugees resettling in Madison began in April of 2009 when a lifeGroup committed to a 90-day sponsorship of the first Bhutanese family to arrive in Madison. Since then, our congregation has been blessed to witness many Bhutanese come to faith in Jesus through baptism, attend weekly Saturday evening Bible study and fellowship, and serve in our congregation and elsewhere.
Pastor Amos Shakya from Chicago continues to develop leaders in our ministry, visiting Madison every other weekend. He also provides wise counsel as the community encounters both celebrations and challenges that are often culturally unique. Mentored during the week, Bhutanese leaders are now teaching the Bible study and leading worship every Saturday evening. One of our leaders, Ran Limbu, just started a 3-year basic theological training program with Pastor Amos as his mentor. Another leader felt called to minister to the youth and children and started an AWANA club on Saturday mornings. They are experiencing amazing growth in that program and drawing youth and children from the larger Madison Bhutanese community that do not yet know Jesus. Discipleship continues to multiply as more and more adults and youth are trained in serving during the weekly Saturday evening fellowship. In addition, volunteers from the Church like the Strange family, Mayme Keagy, the Russow family, and many others, continue to walk along side these families learning, laughing, crying and serving together.
The ministry has been very active in recent months! We hosted Godly Leadership and Godly Family training seminars, a special youth event with a presenter from Nepal, a community picnic and neighborhood Christmas caroling and program in partnership with other Bhutanese/Nepali ministries in Madison and Chicago. To connect with other Christian brothers and sisters elsewhere, members traveled to Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois for various conferences and events and representatives from those ministries have visited Madison as well. Closer to home, everyone came together for a variety of baptisms, home blessings, weddings and volunteer efforts including a special event supporting Tiny Hands (another Nepal-focused ministry at the Church) and donations for earthquake relief in Nepal.
As we live life together in ministry, we often must adapt to the opportunities and challenges life brings. We celebrated together as several of our leaders started a new Indian restaurant in Madison, but miss their leadership and weekly presence with the demands of a new business becoming very real. We supported each other as the news of devastating earthquakes in Nepal arrived day after day with seemingly no end in site. Many in our ministry had friends or relatives affected by this disaster, including Pastor Amos and Bijay Lama, leader of the Madison Southside Bhutanese/Nepali fellowship. One had their family home destroyed and the other mourned the death of a family member. The transportation blockade in Nepal that followed and prevented necessary supplies from entering the country was as traumatic, if not more, than the earthquakes themselves. Finally, we mourned together the tragic death of Bhim Limbu and struggled to support and love his family through the loss and many other hard times that came as a result.
Please pray for this ministry. It seems at every turn we face spiritual warfare and obstacles that seek to destroy the good work God is accomplishing in and through us and discourage those involved. His continued protection and guidance is needed as we further His Kingdom work here in Madison. Pray for Pastor Amos in his leadership and recent significant loss and challenges in his family, and Ran Limbu in his continued development and training despite mourning the loss of his brother Bhim. Pray that our ongoing discipleship would bear fruit and grow and that all the resources necessary are available to allow this ministry to continue to develop and mature.
Thank you for your continued support, encouragement and prayers!