Thursday, September 29, 2011

Loving our Neighbors


Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. ‘This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 (NLT)
Many of us are very familiar with this passage of scripture, still we sometimes ask, “Who is my neighbor?”  Doing life in the community that is Mission Adelante, we recognize our neighbor is the immigrant and refugee living among us.
You may have wondered, “What’s the difference between an immigrant and a refugee?”  or “How did these people from Bhutan end up in Kansas City of all places?”  A person is made a refugee by the United Nations when they cannot return their homeland, many times because of war or fear of persecution based on race, religion or caste. When refugees are removed from their homeland, they are settled in refugee camps that serve as a middle ground until they can be resettled to a new permanent home, because they can’t return to their previous home.  Refugees are then welcomed in to third party countries, like the United States, and are given a chance at a new life.
The Bhutanese Outreach at Mission Adelante serves Bhutanese refugees.  Our Bhutanese friends are ethnically Nepali, and their ancestors migrated to Bhutan over 200 years ago.  In the early 1990s, the government of Bhutan essentially kicked out all of the ethnically Nepalese people from the country.  The UN stepped in, and set up seven refugee camps on the border of Nepal and Bhutan.  In 2008, the UN began to resettle the residents of the camps in other countries including the US, Canada, Norway and Australia.
There are currently about 400 Bhutanese living in Kansas City, Kansas along with refugees from Somalia, Burma, Iraq and other countries.  When resettled, refugees are assisted by Catholic Charities for a time as they find jobs, and begin to figure out life in America.  The struggle is great for our friends moving from bamboo tents to a major city.  In these struggles, Mission Adelante has the chance to step in and be the hands and feet of Christ to our friends, filling their practical needs and showing them the love of Christ.
Prayer requests:
  • Our 12 Leaders In Training, ages eight through 14, will visit a retirement home once a month during the duration of the school year to spend time with the residents.  Please pray for mutually encouraging friendships to form between the students and seniors.
  • Pray for some changes we're making to the way our Latino church worships.  Pray that deeper involvement and more discipleship will be fostered.
  • Pray for wisdom for leaders during the beginning stage of our Bhutanese house church.
Current needs:
  • Two queen beds, one double bed, a sofa, and a dining table and chairs are needed by Bhutanese families.  Please contact David at 913-281-6274 x6 if you're able to donate any of these furniture items.
  • A dresser has been requested through our Resource Center.  Please contact Molly at 913-281-6274 x5 if you can donate one.
  • We need three iPods for use in Kids Adelante, Bhutanese Kids Club, and the Bhutanese church.  Older iPods are fine; however, we need control of playlists, so Shuffles won't serve our purposes.  If you're able to donate one please contact Morgan at morganh@missionadelante.org or 913-281-6274 x3.
Upcoming dates:
  • The majority of the Mission Adelante staff will travel to the Christian Community Development Association National Conference in Indianapolis October 12-16.  Check out CCDA at ccda.org.  Therefore, there will be No Latino Outreach programs Thursday, October 13.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The LeMasters Have Come to Kansas City

Written by Joe LeMaster
In September 2010, my wife and I were at a Board meeting of the international mission that sent us to Nepal in 1990. For almost a year, we’d been diligently seeking the Father’s heart about the next few years of our lives. We’d returned from Nepal in 2000 after a decade of service there, and settled into lives and jobs in Columbia, Missouri, a mid-west college town. I was reasonably successful as tenured faculty member at the University of Missouri School of Medicine and my wife as a nurse at a local hospital and a teacher for Community Bible Study. Our kids had grown and flown, and it looked like we were going to be there until retirement.
That all changed at the Board meeting. One of our fellow Board members introduced us to some Bhutanese refugees to whom she was ministering in Loudonville, NY. The moment we met them, we were smitten…these were not the erudite Nepalese PhD students we’d met in the mid-west, who were well-off and worldly-wise. These were ‘people of the land’, poor hill-dwellers like those with whom we’d worked in rural Nepal. They spoke like them, they dressed like them, they were like them in every sense that had mattered to us. We were deeply moved at meeting them.
About 2 weeks later, we were in KC for my 25th medical school re-union. That weekend, we met a young couple working in KCK, named David and Holly Stetler, who were living and working there… with Bhutanese refugees.  
We began to gingerly knock on doors to see if they would open to join them in KCK, and one after another they did so, beckoningly. The Stetler’s missional team opened their arms wide to us. KU Medical Center offered me a job to do refugee healthcare.
Finally, we sold our house on a lake in the country. We quit our jobs in Columbia, MO. We had bought a house in the KCK neighborhood where the Nepalese live. We believed God was with us. We took the leap of faith, and moved into the neighborhood.
We’ve been here about 2 months now. Gradually we are getting to know and love our new Nepalese neighbors, and our ‘Adelant√© family’ who are planting a vibrant, young, missional gathering of believing Nepalese.  We meet regularly to pray, crying out to God for grace to be his hands and feet here. We are learning to share life and work with our Nepali neighbors. And we rejoice with each small step towards Jesus that we see them take.
 I wish I could say it was always easy because we believe God called us here. Some days it feels that way more than others. When I come out of my clinic after seeing Nepalese patients at KU Medical Center, I have to pinch myself that it is really happening…it is really sweet. A month ago, though, when one of our Nepalese friends committed suicide…not so much. But then I was able to collaborate with the leaders of the Bhutanese community and a local mental health clinic to write a grant to improve mental health services for Bhutanese refugees…the day we submitted that grant was a good day too.
Sometimes we struggle with something that feels a lot like culture shock, which we experienced when we moved to Nepal. We realize that we are weak, broken vessels, but ones through whom the Holy Spirit still wants to move. We believe it is His desire to call and mobilize local Bhutanese believers to embrace the Great Commission, to take the Gospel to their Nepali neighbors all over the world. We want to be a part of that…it would be our honor and joy. 
It’s still early days for us…we are still in the adjustment period. We have stepped into a place where God alone is in control. Only He can bring to pass the change in He wants in us and in those whom He has called us to serve. And we are with Him here, sink or swim… and there is no place else that we would rather be. 


In other news:

  • Both the Bhutanese and Latino outreach launches went really smoothly last week, much in part to very high-quality volunteers with servant's attitudes and a willingness to help in every way that they could!  Thank you for praying for launches such as those we experienced!
  • A group of 12 parents and kids from Heartland Community Church assembled 30 Canasta Basicas (bags of food staples) on Saturday morning, which will be made available to families in need through our Resource Center.  Find out more about Canasta Basicas, and how you can assemble some of them at www.missionadelante.org/canastabasica.
Prayer requests:
  • Please pray that several Hispanics in our Latino church will rise to invitations into leadership roles that they'll soon be offered for the first time.
  • Praise God for facilitating the smooth launch to our Fall trimester last week.
Other needs:
  • An appliance dolly to help move large and heavy items in our Resource Center.  Please contact Molly at 913-281-6274 x5.
Important dates:
  • Staff Open Houses: Saturday, November 19, 3:00-6:30, Kansas City, Kansas

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Discipleship: Walking Through the Mundane

Written by Katelyn Wharton
Discipleship is such an important word for followers of Christ. Jesus had twelve disciples, and called us to make disciples. But when it comes down to it, how do we do this practically? Most people don’t have time to meet at the coffee shop every morning and do Bible studies with someone. So, if it’s not that, what is discipleship? I saw a model of discipleship at Mission Adelante this summer that is modeled after Christ’s work here on earth. He moved into his disciples’ area and invited them into his life (Mark 1:16, 19, 38). He walked further and began meeting the spiritual and physical needs of his community. In the same way, the Mission Adelante staff has moved into the neighborhood and begun meeting the needs of their community. Jesus used a come-and-let-me-teach-you approach to invite the disciples to share his life. Mission Adelante staff did the same thing with the interns this summer.
My invitation to share life looked a little different than that of the other interns. In my pseudo-intern position, I couldn’t stay the whole summer, so Jason and Megan Schoff invited me to spend the weeks I was in Kansas City, KS with their family. So began my journey into the mundane, to find out how to be a disciple and “do” discipleship out of who I am in Christ.
There is nothing particularly glamorous about family life—I know this from my own family, it’s simply reality—but I’ve found that there is something special about being asked to share the mundane moments of life with someone else! Jesus called his disciples to follow him and share in all the moments of his life, even the ordinary ones. When they dropped everything to follow him, I wonder if they realized they were in for a lot of walking?
While I’m sure that dorm-style life with the rest of the interns would have been great, staying with the Schoffs allowed me to be a part of the day-to-day life of a family seeking to follow Christ. Walking with Megan meant the occasional breakfast or lunch date, morning walks around the neighborhood with the boys in their stroller, grocery shopping, and talking after the boys went to bed, among other things. Walking with Jason looked like visiting people in the community, working with the English classes, and lots and lots of office work.  In these mundane moments I learned a lot. Several times throughout the summer, Megan asked me, “Katelyn, are you sure you want to come along with us? We’re only going to Costco,” or “We’re not doing anything interesting.”
 But isn’t this the essence of discipleship? Countless times throughout the New Testament Jesus was going somewhere, and he took his disciples with him (Mark 2:23, 3:13, 3:20, 5:1, 5:21, 6:1). Jesus invited his disciples to journey with him, then told them to make disciples; the Schoffs are followers of Christ who invited me to take part in their journey. Jesus ministered out of who he was; the Schoffs are ministering out of who they are and are becoming in Christ. And I was invited to journey with them in their mundane moments. Most of this journey wasn’t spent in a coffee shop or doing Bible study, but I have learned about becoming like Christ by simply walking with them and watching, just as the disciples learned by walking with and watching Jesus.
 So, who will you invite into the mundane moments of your life? 

In other news:
  • Six individuals were baptized at the Latino worship service on Sunday evening  with the rest of the congregation gathered around the pool.  Each of those being baptized shared a confession of faith beforehand, and the depth of the ownership of their faith to which they testified was edifying for the rest of the congregation to hear.  
  • This week is the launch of our fall trimester, and the Lord provided many of the volunteers that we were asking him to provide.  However, we're still a few volunteers short.  We need a couple of conversation partners for Thursday evening Latino ESL classes and a male L.I.T. tutor on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons.  Find more information as well as phone numbers of directors by clicking here.
Prayer needs:
  • Pray for the continuing faith journey of the six who were baptized.  Pray for their faith to be protected and that their love for the Lord would continue to grow.
  • The oldest boy in Teens Adelante is taking ownership in welcoming five new teens into the outreach Bible study this fall.  There are also three new volunteers.  Please pray for each of them to integrate well and be accepted into the group, which developed closeness during the summer.
  • Pray for the relationships that God will form between volunteers and program participants this trimester in all of our outreach programs.  
  • Ask the Lord to give Jarrett Meek and Jason Schoff guidance and boldness as they consider reformatting that way our Latino church worships.
Current needs:
  • A small group to provide a meal for 20 people each Monday afternoon throughout the school year.  Please contact Megan at meganm@missionadelante.org.
  • Fifty-five gallon trash bags.
  • A gas stove, dining room table and chairs, a washer, and a dryer have all been requested in our Resource Center.  Please contact Molly at 913-281-6274 x 5.

Important dates:
  • Latino Trimester Launch: Thursday, September 15, 6:30 p.m
  • Save the Date: Saturday, November 19.  Mission Adelante Staff Open Houses in the afternoon.  More details TBA.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Sons and Daughters


Written by Brooke Coon


We went around the circle one by one, as each teen shared what the summer at Teens Adelante was all about for them. After four weeks of the boys and girls being separated to have a Purity study, I was anxious to see if the confidence I had seen growing in the girls community would transfer to the whole group. As we went around the large circle of 11 Teens and 9 leaders, every single one shared a truly insightful piece of what God had been teaching them. "Loyalty." "Brotherhood." "Respect." But what really got me was when I heard "Trust." It wasn't just the concept, but who it was coming from; the one teen who from the first night I volunteered at Mission Adelante tried to place a wall between us.  "Trust" was not in his vocabulary. Walls were safe for him.


Over the past year, his defenses have come down, stone by stone, and during the men's purity time something in him seems to have not only come down, but he has actually reached out. He offered his true self and what resulted was "Trust; I never thought I would be able to trust a group of guys. I have never been able to before." Not only did he find a group of teen guys and men to lead them as brothers in Christ, but he is discovering an identity in Christ that gave him the confidence to share his true heart in front of all Teens Adelante.


The four weeks with the girls was equally powerful. The first week was an awkward tension of defense mechanisms at their maximum load. The second week those defenses burst to pieces. The Lord had called a couple of the women leaders to share from the dark unhealed wounds of the heart. He called us to lead the way in modeling what it looks like to brings things into the light that can really feel painful to acknowledge.  Immediately after we penetrated the silence in our own hearts, they did in theirs. The chains of our sin and the wounds that others had inflicted on our feminine hearts poured out into the thick air that night.


But a temporary discomfort in facing sin brings complete salvation and freedom to never again sit in darkness or fear. Doors in every single one of the young women opened, to what I imagine will be a year of deep restoration. There is a Holy restoration to our identities as 'daughters of the King' that occurs when we simply gather to seek His face. I am now beginning to see in them a security in each other and in their womanhood.  They are suddenly radiating as a group of girls. They no longer see each other as a threat, but as sisters. 


I am joyfully anticipating building on this foundation of sisterhood that Jesus laid in them. My prayer for all the Teens as we begin a new school year is that this communal foundation will give them strength to live a life that is set apart and that they will experience the Body of Christ working in all its glory. Despite all of our differences at Teens Adelante, there is a group of women and a group of men that will gather to seek wholeness in Christ, and demonstrate our love for each other through "loyalty", "respect", "trust", "vulnerability", and "brotherhood."


In other news:
  • A portion of the Bhutanese missional family traveled to Fayetteville the weekend before last to learn about business as missions from a church that is doing it there.  They returned with many ideas about new ways to help the immigrants in our community.
  • Another year of Leaders In Training--an after school tutoring and character development program--begins today for 12 select kids between the ages of eight and 14.  Director Megan McDermott feels very privileged to invest in the emerging leaders of our community in this way.
Prayer needs:
  • Praise God!  Lauren Timberlake has officially joined the Mission Adelante Staff as the part-time Director of the Bhutanese English Outreach!  Please pray for the quick completion of the remodeling of the home they have purchased in Kansas City, Kansas, as they are eager to move to the neighborhood.
  • Pray for God to strengthen  a Latino gentleman in our community that lost his father earlier this year and is presently trying to hold onto hope for his marriage.
Current needs:
  • A number of volunteers are still needed for the fall trimester in most of our program areas. Our needs are:
    • Bhutanese Kids Club: 4 volunteers, at least one of whom is male
    • Bhutanese Teens Club: 2 male mentors; a worship leader
    • Latino Teens: 2 male mentors
    • Latino Adult ESL: 6 conversation partners
    • Leaders In Training: a small group to provide a meal for 20 people each Monday afternoon throughout the school year; 1 male tutor for Wednesday afternoons
    If you, or someone you know is interested, click here for more information. Then contact the staff person listed with the information about the program that most interests you. Our fall trimester is right around the corner, kicking off on September 13.
  • An appliance dolly, to move large items in our Resource Center.
  • Nonperishable food items to distribute through our Resource Center including canned goods, cereal, pasta, toilet paper, etc.
  • A  baby stroller, which has been requested in our Resource Center

Important dates:
  • Volunteer Orientation & Training: Saturday, September 10, 9:00-12:30. This orientation is a great way to get to know the scope of our whole ministry in one sitting, so if you'd like to find out more about us, even if you're unsure whether you can commit to volunteering, please come!
  • Volunteer Team Meeting: Monday, September 12, 6:30 p.m. All of our active volunteers gather once at the beginning of the trimester to prepare for a great program launch.
  • Bhutanese Trimester Launch: Tuesday, September 13, 6:30 p.m.
  • Latino Trimester Launch: Thursday, September 15, 6:30 p.m
  • Save the Date: Saturday, November 19.  Mission Adelante Staff Open Houses in the afternoon.  More details TBA.