It all began during some downtime while loading furniture with the refugee move-in crew at the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program’s warehouse. A young Nepali guy had seen me pull up in my car and overheard that we’re heading to Burlington’s Old North End neighborhood which was also his neighborhood. Hitching a ride with me would be the difference between a 10 minute car ride and a 45 minute bus adventure. Our ride a conversation with some broken English along with the one Nepali term I can confidently pronounce, then an unexpected detour to a Nepali grocery store…
Raj: What is your job?
Kevin: I’m a pastor.
Kevin: Christian minister.
Raj: (with big smile) I love Jesus!
Through that initial meeting I gathered that Raj was relatively new in his relationship with Jesus and wanted for someone to teach him more about the Bible. I did not have to pray too much about the next step… Over the past two months we’ve practiced driving while practicing English (which is not always an advisable mix). We’ve begun looking at the gospels together and beginning this week will begin going through a Nepali-English parallel New Testament.
Raj is a young man with tremendous potential. He greatly desires to be discipled. He understands the plight of Bhutanese refugees coming from Nepal to the U.S. while quickly learning English and adapting to this new culture. I’m confident that mentoring young men like Raj is the key to engaging the growing Nepali population in our area: 340 arrived this past year with over 300 more expected over this next year, and some have suggested the total population is presently around 2000.
Getting to know new neighbors from around the world is fairly simple:
- Knock on their door and welcome them to the U.S.
- Continue stopping by and saying hello (for most of their cultures this is more normal than a phone call or email).
- Invite them to your home for a meal and listen to their story. Real friends share meals.
- Continue inviting, listening, being a friend, and sharing your life with them.
- Pretty soon, you’ll see that God is at work.