God's Kingdom without Borders

The Vine Institute

God's Kingdom without Borders

Owning the Story of “My People”

A few days ago my wife and I joined a circle of Christians comprised of about half Anglos and the other half Nepali-Bhutanese. We met to explore sharing facilities in our (mostly) Anglo church so these refugee brothers and sisters could have an adequate worship and children’s ministry space for their growing congregation.

One of the refugee men whose English was excellent told us the story of their migration. It went something like this: A few generations ago the government of Nepal relocated 42 families from their homeland to help invigorate the culture and economy of Bhutan; these few families in time grew to be a population of 100,000; they maintained their own culture, including their Hindu religion, in this foreign land with its culture dominated by Buddhism; the Nepalis, who had never been accepted into the Bhutanese society, then became a threat to the government because of the potential force of their numbers—what if they had an uprising?; as a result there was oppression and persecution of these foreigners until they fled for their lives back to Nepal and other places, landed in refugee camps, and from there many settled in the U.S. In Salt Lake City we have about 2,000 of them, still predominantly Hindu, though this single band of Jesus followers among them has formed a church of nearly 100 people.

I found my attention riveted to this story because it sounded like an oral version of the story of Exodus! Wouldn’t you agree? And both Moses and God had owned this Exodus account as the story of “my people.” It became crucial to their identity. Can you recall the story of your own people, your roots, and see how it impacted you? I began thinking about my own roots: the Rowe family comes from Wales, where the lore is full of the hard lives of Welsh miners; the miners would spontaneously break into song as they came out of the mines black-faced and walked the streets to their homes; they became world-renowned for their strong voices; today, my wife often says I sing too loud and I recall when the director of a local theater chose me to play the title role in “The Mikado” he asked about my ancestry and commented “Well, that’s where the strong voice comes from—Welsh ancestors!” I love to sing and love Celtic music particularly, and clearly there’s a story of “my people” behind who I am.

Such a story is not an accident of history but an action of Providence—God’s gift to our lives! What’s the story of your people and how are you connected to it?

Posted in Multicultural on 18 February 2013

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