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VBS Rugs to be Auctioned

Posted in: Living Water by LWCC Office on September 17, 2014 | 4 Comments

VBS1

VBS1

Look what the kids made at VBS this year! Families were asked to bring socks, VBS volunteers cut them into loops, and the kids knotted them together like rubber bands. A spontaneous contest arose as to who could make the longest chain of sock loops.

Then, with the VBS students watching and participating, we wove the socks into these beautiful rugs. The kids were in awe of the two-harness loom and especially enjoyed banging the beater bar against the woven material to make a tightly-woven rug.

Eventually these rugs will go up for silent online auction – and there will be at least two more of them that are in the “looped” stage and have not yet been woven.

VBS2

VBS 2

Stay tuned, and don’t miss your chance to bid on these beautiful creations1

 

Nepali Believers Strengthen the Foundation of Living Water Community Church

Posted in: Living Water by LWCC Office on June 26, 2012 | 2 Comments

Outgrowing homes, the Nepali house church has begun meeting Saturday afternoons at Living Water Community Church’s Meetinghouse.

When the Darjee family arrived in Chicago in January, 2010 from a 17-year sojourn in a Nepali refugee camp, a Nepali-speaking MCC church community worker welcomed them into the local Mennonite Church, Living Water Community Church.  MCC worker Amos Shakya had arrived in the U.S. two years earlier under Youth with a Mission sponsorship, coming with a desire to extend evangelism and discipleship training to recent Bhutanese/Nepalese refugees.

When the Darjee family arrived in Chicago in January, 2010 from a 17-year sojourn in a Nepali refugee camp, a Nepali-speaking MCC church community worker welcomed them into the local Mennonite Church, Living Water Community Church.  MCC worker Amos Shakya had arrived in the U.S. two years earlier under Youth with a Mission sponsorship, coming with a desire to extend evangelism and discipleship training to recent Bhutanese/Nepalese refugees.

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. He next worked on evangelism and faith discipleship among recent Bhutanese-Nepali refugees in Boston, MA. On a trip to Chicago, he felt drawn to reach out to the growing Bhutanese community there. He stayed with Bhutanese friends who had been attending Living Water Community Church. He made connection with LWCC leadership while also growing acquainted with more of the Bhutanese/Nepali community in Rogers Park.

Nepali believers share in heartfelt worship at Living Water Community Church, led by Roma and Amos Shakya, pictured at far right.

Living Water Community Church, a Mennonite church planted in 1995 to reach the multicultural Chicago neighborhood of Rogers Park, found itself well situated to welcome these new immigrants and house English classes conducted by the Nepali Association. MCC’s Church Community Worker program enabled LWCC to add Amos to its part-time paid pastoral staff from September 2010 to August 2012. Partnering with his dynamic wife Roma, whom Amos wed in 2011, the Shakyas lead a Nepali house church which worships and studies the Bible Saturdays in their native language. Many of these house church participants also attend Living Water’s Sunday morning English service. Twelve Bhutanese adults have been baptized into membership in LWCC since Amos came on staff. They reach out eagerly to family and friends, increasing growth in the mother church.

The Darjee family’s journey to faith in Christ makes an interesting case study. Father Buddhiman (“Bhuddi”), mother Tanka Maya and their six children were forced off their farm in Bhutan by soldiers just as planting season ended in April 1992. With their limited funds, they rented a truck with another family and fled to Bader, India. After a brief stay with relatives, they rented another truck and sought refuge in the United Nations’ “Beldangi 1” camp in the Jappa state of Nepal. Their entire Lhotshampas people group had been expelled from the largely Bhuddist country of Bhutan in an ethnic cleansing action against Nepali-speaking Bhutanese. Nepal did not want these 100,000 stateless people either, and denied them opportunity to find work outside the camp.

During their first two months in the camp, cholera took many people’s lives. Tanka was constantly ill. She sought prayer from the Hindu highest priest in the camp, but did not find healing. She began attending church with friends in the refugee camp, hoping to find healing there. Her husband, a Hindu priest since the age of 20, said to her, “Fine! Go get healed.” Tanka accepted Christ and was baptized. Over time, she noticed some of her illnesses departing. When Tanka arrived in Chicago, she still experienced some illness. A Bhutanese Christian friend, Sukmaya, brought her to Living Water where she met Amos and began her discipleship journey to more deeply understand and follow Jesus. Now mostly healed of her illness, Tanka radiates joy, a giving spirit, and a warm welcome to others.

When her husband Buddhi saw the change in Tanka’s life, he became interested in becoming a Christian. He studied the Bible with Amos and other believers and was baptized in October 2010. In his work as a tailor, he would often talk to customers about Christ. Their oldest son Tikaram “Tika” also became a Christian because of the changes he saw in his mother, father, siblings, wife and children who had all become believers. Earlier when his wife Chandra started attending church in Nepal, he became so angry he said he would build a dividing wall in their house and live on a separate side from her. Since he was baptized, Tika has noticed a difference in his thinking and in his capacity to love others. His favorite scripture is Jesus’ parable to build one’s house on rock and not on sand.

The Nepali believers add to the strong foundation being built at Living Water to welcome people of many nations. Members of the Nepali house church lead worship at Living Water once a month with scripture readings and prayer offered in Nepali. This service has become an important outreach to non-believers in the neighborhood. They have taught other attendees how to pass the peace of Christ in Nepali. They also hosted the church’s annual Christmas caroling party in several members’ homes, and presented a Nepali cultural dance at LWCC’s Christmas Day worship. Now attracting 25-40 worshipers per week (including many teenagers), the weekly Saturday Nepali house church changed venue from members’ homes to the Living Water Community Church meetinghouse on June 9.

Leaders Amos and Roma Shakya rejoice over the safe arrival of baby Yarona Jyoti, born May 3, 2012.

The united body at LWCC rejoices over recently answered prayers for two important concerns in Amos and Roma’s family. As MCC’s two-year church community worker partnership grant comes to an end, LWCC members have voted to increase their financial commitment to Amos as a valued church leader. Their petition to the U.S. government to extend his R-1 religious worker visa to August, 2013, switching from sponsorship by Youth with a Mission-Wisconsin to LWCC, was granted on April 30. Three days later, Roma gave birth to their first child, Yarona (“sing” and “rejoice”) Jyoti (“light”) Shakya. Despite prenatal diagnosis of a heart ailment, Yarona was breathing on her own and able to go home with her parents a few days after birth. Through birth and new birth, God continues growing the multicultural family at Living Water Community Church.

For further information, contact Amos at amosshakya@gmail.com
–Sally Schreiner Youngquist and George Putnam

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Becoming a Visible, Voluntary Contrast Society

Posted in: Living Water by Kristin Jackson on February 10, 2012 | 3 Comments

Many people have asked what it means to be an Anabaptist Christian. In coming to understand this way of life, I have been grateful for the wisdom and life example of Sally Schreiner Youngquist. Sally leads LWCC’s Fellowship of Rogers Park cell group, which is also a part of Reba Place Fellowship.  She currently serves as community leader of RPF and was a founding pastor of LWCC from 1995-2009.

 Here is her description of being Anabaptist.

 Peace,

Pastor Kristin

 

I became an Anabaptist through belonging and behaving before adopting all the beliefs and historical legacy of Reba Place Fellowship.  My brother, now a Presbyterian pastor, gave me the feedback, “The Anabaptists don’t have a systematic theology like Calvin’s Institutes.”  I retorted, “Well, the difference lies in Mennonites putting their energy into practicing what they believe so they demonstrate something different to the world.”

RPF founder John W. Miller named Mars, Mammon and Me as the prevailing idols in our society. I can see how media, government and the economic engines of mass consumerism breed conformity, captivity and fear within our culture of individualism and so-called free choice.   It takes a group effort to resist these powers.  I have thrown in my lot with one such experiment for 40 years, learning practices of communal resistance.

Worship repeatedly calls us to declare our allegiance to Jesus before family, country, and way of life. Group discernment lends wisdom and accountability to major decision-making.  Pooling our income and living on Voluntary Service-type allowances provide us with what we need while challenging our greed.  Locating ourselves in urban areas where violence flares calls us to prayer and peace-building efforts with neighbors.  Intentional proximity, table fellowship, evangelistic welcome and mutual aid are shared among people of diverse incomes and backgrounds in our surrounding congregations—Living Water Community Church and Reba Place Church.   Through such communal practices we live into Jesus’ new way of life.

Our mistakes are legion and our learning process slow, especially as we wrestle with the entrenched power of racism within and around us.  “Seeking first the Kingdom” requires faithfulness over the long haul, with many bouts of failure. Yet we are encouraged to see Jesus raising up a new crop of Anabaptist-leaning intentional communities these days as demonstration plots of the now/not yet Kingdom.

(Originally written for Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary Alumni Newsletter, Fall, 2011 in answer to the question, “What does it mean to be Anabaptist today—in 300 words or less?)

Don’t worry. It’s okay.

Posted in: Living Water by Kristin Jackson on February 3, 2012 | 4 Comments

Pastor Samrach preaching. photo credit: Tim Nafziger

“Don’t worry. It’s okay.”

These are the words that I most associate with my colleague, Pastor Samrach Nuth. I’ve lost count of the times he’s said this after I’ve brought up some issue that troubled me.

“We are the sons and daughters of the Living God,” he added yesterday, by way of explanation. Other times, he’s followed his usual “Don’t worry. It’s okay” with an assurance that God has called him to be a leader in this church, and whatever God wants him to do, he will do, humbly. Or he reminds me not to worry because when we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, it changes us. Not only on the outside, but on the inside, too.

When Samrach told me his story, I realized that his deep confidence that all will be well has been hard earned. Born in a rural Cambodian village, he moved to Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh, in the 1970’s as a young adult. Like most Cambodians of his generation, he was drafted into military service, and so he worked by day as the receptionist for a general in the Cambodian army. By night, Samrach worked in his brother’s jewelry store, where he learned the trade of a jeweler.

When the communists took over Cambodia, Pastor Samrach was forced to move to a rural area and work on a farm. He was moved around from one farm to another for several years. When the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia on January 7, 1979—a date Pastor Samrach rattled off, unprompted, with the quick recall of something seared unforgettably in his mind–he had to walk from where he’d been farming back to his home village, entirely on foot. It took him over a month.

Samrach stopped talking at this point in his story, shook his head, and looked down into his lap. So I don’t exactly know what happened to him next, or what he saw when he finally reached home.

But I do know this: twenty-eight members of Samrach’s family, including six brothers and sisters, were killed by the Khmer Rouge Army.

Samrach was not yet a Christian then. Like most Cambodians, he grew up Buddhist. But he has told me many times that after he became a Christian, he learned to forgive Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. “When I became a Christian, I didn’t hold that against them,” he says.

He’s told me he’s forgiven the Khmer Rouge so many times because I keep asking about it. Even as a follower of Jesus, it’s difficult to imagine how someone could have the grace to forgive such unspeakable crimes.  But over many tellings, I’ve come to trust that when Pastor Samrach says, “Don’t worry, it’s okay,” he is drawing on decades of grace and forgiveness that run deep and true.  Samrach’s story reassures me that God’s faithfulness is sufficient, whatever we may encounter.

Son te pheap (Peace be with you),

Pastor Kristin