Another Step in Bhutanese Ministry

The Bhutanese Ministry at the Church continues to grow and evolve. 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 Department of State in the resettlement of at least 60,000 of the more than 100,000 Bhutanese living in refugee camps in Nepal. Having been expelled from their home country of Bhutan because they are not the majority culture, they have lived in refugee camps for over 20 years. Not able   to go home, and not able to gain citizenship in Nepal due to political issues, they were in need of a new start and a new life.

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. To date, over 300 Bhutanese have resettled in Madison. God has led us to a ministry well beyond that initial 90 day commitment to a single family. Our congregation has been blessed to witness 40 Bhutanese come to faith in Jesus through baptism, attend weekly Saturday evening Bible study and fellowship, and serve in our congregation. Others have also come to faith and been baptized through other local ministries.

Our God-inspired love for these humble and gracious people compelled us to help meet their physical, social and spiritual needs. Although it is a challenge, the Bhutanese families are largely self-sufficient with their physical needs now. During the week, we spend two nights with the kids tutoring and reading, partnered with discipleship time helping three of the Bhutanese leaders prepare for Bible study.  Saturday evenings bring the community Bible study and fellowship time with dedicated teaching for the kids.

We have been richly blessed by the opportunity for discipleship, and have seen amazing God-led progress. For more than a year, three of the Bhutanese ministry lay leaders were teaching the Bible study every other Saturday evening. In 2015, they will be teaching every Saturday. The older kids have completed their first communion training and continue to grow in their knowledge of the Bible. And the youngest kids are eager to read scripture and complete projects focused on their faith.

The most exciting news in the Bhutanese ministry is the addition of paid part-time ministry development. From the very beginning, a partnership was started with a Bhutanese ministry in Chicago. Over the years, combined Christmas celebrations and other events led to new friendships and trusted partners in ministry. Through designated mission dollars, the Church is taking the next steps forward by welcoming minister Amos Shakya to our faith community.

Amos’ journey with Jesus began with a Gospel tract handed to him by a stranger on a path leading to the cornfields near his village. He was captivated by the message in the tract that quoted John 3:16. Several months later, he moved to his sister’s home in Katmandu and decided to attend the church identified on the back of the tract. As the Lord spoke into his heart at this church, Amos sought baptism four months later. He dedicated himself to work, Bible study and outreach activity for three years before entering a six-month formal training program on faith discipleship conducted by Youth with a Mission [YWAM] - Nepal. He then accepted a staff position as Campus Minister with YWAM - Nepal with a focus on evangelism and faith discipleship. Additional certification programs with YWAM took him to Bangalore, India and Bangkok, Thailand.

In August 2008, he entered the U.S. as a student at the Bible School for the Nations conducted by YWAM - Wisconsin. On a trip to Chicago, he felt drawn to reach out to the growing Bhutanese community there and with his wife Roma and young daughter, has established what a strong and vibrant congregation is now. In 2015, Amos will be coming to Madison every other weekend. He arrives on Friday afternoons for ministry planning and meeting with leaders. Saturdays will be focused on evangelism, discipleship building and training workshops. On Saturday evenings, he joins in with the Bible study and fellowship time, returning to Chicago early on Sunday morning to join the faith community there. While in Madison, Amos stays in Bhutanese homes, strengthening the bonds of friendship and faith. During the weeks in Chicago, he uses technology to   connect with and encourage the leaders here in Madison.

The goal of Amos’ position at the Church is to develop leaders from within the Bhutanese ministry and equip them to make disciples to God’s glory. Thank you for your continued support and encouragement that has led to such amazing fruit. Please pray for Amos and the Bhutanese ministry often and give praise to God for his amazing provision. We can’t wait to see what God does in the coming year!



God did not establish the church to be a gathering of like-minded people rallying to “make a difference.” In other words, the church is not a voluntary organization where people can choose to participate where they want to, or invest in the things they deem to have a great ROI [Return On Investment]. 

The Scriptures never talk in those terms about our involvement or investment. Never. Never ever.

On account of our individualistic society, in America we think of churches as voluntary associations of autonomous individuals. Individuals come together as a church, IF THEY WANT, and DO WHAT THEY WANT. But Jesus says repeatedly something distinctly different from this “do-your-own-thing individualism and investment.”

Jesus says, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”  [John 13:8]

We only participate by God’s undeserved kindness.

Jesus says, “You did not choose me but I chose you.”  [John 15:16] We don’t choose to participate. He allows us to. There’s extreme grace in that reality!

And why did He choose us? For what purpose do we participate?

Jesus says, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of
the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the
commands I have given you.”  [Matthew 28:19-20]

All of our participation in its various forms, allow us to make and teach disciples.
And all of our participation in its various forms, allow us to discover our own stories as disciples.

That is perhaps the greatest discovery waiting for you in 2015.


Why Worry About "Why?"

Check out more from LynnIn 1997, five years before Rick Warren penned The Purpose Driven Life, career counselor and executive coach Richard Leider published The Power of Purpose: Creating Meaning in Your Life and Work. Considered a classic in the field of personal development, this book and his eight others have sold over one million copies and have been translated into twenty languages.
As the founder of Inventure-The Purpose Company, Richard has championed the passionate pursuit of on-purpose living with over 100,000 leaders in world-class companies. His influence is about to increase exponentially; he was tapped by AARP to be the Chief Curator of content for the organization's Life Reimagined Institute, inspired by his book Life Reimagined, co-authored with Alan Webber.
It was an earlier Leider book, however, that forever endeared me to this gentle man and his purposeful work. Just reading the title, Repacking Your Bags: Lighten Your Load for the Rest of Your Life, spoke solace to my heavy heart in 1994. I didn't then have the perspective, much less the languaging, for what I was experiencing, but this Leider guy got me. I was without purpose, in the "nowhere between two somewheres," as one life chapter was sputtering to a close and my "next" was not yet visible. I couldn't travel to exciting new vistas of possibility, he persuaded, if I didn't jettison worn-out ways of seeing, being and doing that my self and soul had outgrown.   

I could not then have imagined that nine years later, I would be a coach, running my own business, and speaking at the same coaching conference for which Dick Leider was the keynote speaker! He taught our circle of coaches how to ask questions which would uncover, refine, or renew a client's purpose. We learned how to integrate their "why" (purpose) into a compelling "what" (vision) and a viable "how" (plan). Most importantly, we reviewed our own purpose statements, and held our lives up to those templates. Were our investments of time and attention an exemplary expression of our gifts, passions, and values? Were we modeling lives being lived "on purpose?"
In The Power of Purpose, Richard describes how he asks older adults this question:
"If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?"
The answers always theme around these three things:

* Be more reflective
* Be more courageous
* Be clear earlier about purpose
Leider states, "It's tempting to ignore the question of purpose in life, since the consequences of our neglect usually don't show up until crisis points or toward the very end of our lives. Thus, we unconsciously spend much of our energy staying busy, building a lifestyle and making a living. Yet, when we scratch under the surface of our drive for making a living, what's there?"
Coaching claims space for more reflection, more courage, and more clarity around purpose, no matter what goal or issue is identified at the outset. Because purpose is our reason for being, our "why," it's not a stretch to say that reaching most goals ultimately depends upon a strong connection to purpose.
A goal anchored in or pointing to purpose helps us push through our habitual patterns, inertia, and resistance to change. If there's a direct link between what we want to achieve and why we believe we are here, now, in this one wondrous, God-given precious life, we'll get there with less angst. If a case can't be made that reaching a particular goal will bring us more fully into our best selves and highest use, we'll run out of gas when fear and lethargy hijack our good intentions.
That said, I have deep respect for those sacred and mysterious times in each of our lives when passion fades, purpose feels elusive, and goals seem pointless. It is during those days (weeks, months, years) of waiting and wondering that the companionship of a coach can be most transformative.
If you want to pursue purpose in your own life, or support a coachee in that quest, the link below is a great starting point for productive dialogue:
I'll sign off by sharing my recently re-crafted purpose statement, and thanking you for allowing me to live my purpose through our coaching collaboration.
"The purpose of my life is to bring light, depth, and heart to my beloveds, my clients, and my community."


Copyright © 2013 by Lynn Schoener


Where Have You Seen God Lately?

Over the years, it has become a part of Higher Ground’s culture to talk about where they are seeing God at work in their lives. It is a rhythm we try to incorporate in lifeGroups, retreats, mission trips, and service projects. We ask, “Where did you see God show up?” or “What is God teaching you?”. We also ask my favorite question, “How did God surprise you?”.  

One thing that I am realizing is that the more we ask this question and make it a part of our rhythm, the more students are able to recognize God when He speaks to them and nudges them.  They aren’t just noticing God at work, but also noticing when God is asking them to partner in His work.  Over the years, the answer to the question “where have you seen God at work” has become more than just a list of good things students are experiencing. It has become a platform for students to identify and share ways they have responded to God’s nudging.

Sometimes, using the same question over and over can feel monotonous. Or, maybe you have already tried asking your family or loved ones this question and didn’t get a lot of response. Below are some different ways to ask others [and perhaps yourself] to reflect on how they have seen God working in their lives, without having to default to same one question all the time. I’d love to know which question you like the best, and what kind of response you received.

  • Where have you seen God working in your life recently?  
  • How did you see God show up today?  
  • What has God been teaching you?
  •  How is God challenging/shaping you right now?
  •  What are you praying for?
  •  What do you want to celebrate?
  •  Where did you experience joy/goodness/kindness/love/peace/gentleness/self-control/faithfulness today?
  • How have you seen grace lived out recently?

This new year, I would challenge you to make this question a part of your family’s everyday lives. Perhaps you ask it at dinner each night, or as you drive to and from school. Maybe it is a question you ask at bedtime and use the responses to frame your prayers. However you choose to weave this question into your family’s rhythm, I am certain that using it will help to strengthen your faith and trust in Jesus. Try it!


A New Page


2014 has ended.  2015 begins.  I can’t seem to shake the stanza from my head: 

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal home.”

        #123 The Lutheran Hymnal

What have we accomplished together? Where has He been leading us? What adjustments in our journey is God prompting us to make in 2015?   

I’m encouraged by your stories of where you have seen God working.  Go to to read or share your own. I grow in depth of understanding when I read your insights or aha moments in your journey.  Please tell us at I love seeing your photos. Keep ‘em coming at We’ve shared a few from 2014 on our facebook page.

We are realizing our vision of One Church, Regional Impact.  We are connecting people to Life in Jesus… 1 person, 1 neighborhood, 1 region at a time. 

My hope for each of us who associate yourself with this community of believers, seekers and observers is that you would ALL discover your own story and share it. There is blessing that comes from doing what you were made to do. God created us to BE the Church, not just COME to church.

In 2015 we will be encouraging you to find your passion, roll up your sleeves and discover the joy of participating in YOUR STORY. I’m excited to see where God takes us in 2015 and look forward to reading YOUR story this year.