Nearly two years ago, I had the incredible, unforeseen opportunity to attend a house church for Nepalese refugees in Denver. I drove up to the apartment complex where they congregated with my friend Astrid who had heard about this growing community. We would find that this all began because of the incredible call on a pastor and his family to minister to these new arrivals. Then, the tens of people crammed into each others small spaces just about every night of the week in hopes of new friendships in this foreign land and to encounter Jesus. Soon after my first experience with these beautiful people, I wrote a blog. It was the beginning of a spiritual turning point in my life and the beginning of new friendships.
Camping with Nepali Youth, Summer 2011 Credit: Astrid Sky
On Sunday, I was able to visit this community once again. It has been over a year since I frequented the trek from the Springs to Aurora. To put it plainly, this bunch has grown. They’ve moved from apartments to a rented house to a church down the street that has graciously donated their space. I recognized many of their brown faces, but the vast majority of them were fresh to my recollection. While the congregation is primarily Nepalese, there are also some Indian, Pakistani, and Hispanic folks. Take a look at what today, is NayaLife Community Church.
As I looked around the vibrant room this past weekend, I felt my inner being come alive. Three months in the States had almost done me in, but my passion for the nations had suddenly been rejuvenated. Hindi, Nepali, and English choruses with scattered clapping, kids twirling in the aisles, and an elderly man jumping up ahead. Yes, this spiritual intoxication did occur, but it was what happened after the service that most stimulated my spirit on Sunday afternoon.
“Hey Mikey…He Likes It!”
I have a seven-year-old Nepali boy to thank for that. For the sake of sparing name mutilation, we’ll call him “Mikey.” I met Mikey two years prior while facilitating a makeshift Sunday school class. He didn’t remember me or the time we spent building ginormous block towers and bridges, but we still got along quite nicely despite the time lapse. We were outside in a courtyard waiting for a post-church citizenship class to finish.
Before I continue, I should make clear that He offered the following information. Maybe I prodded with the question, “What do you like to do after school?” But he still freely spoke of the reality of his life. You see, in his free time, he likes to help his mom because she can’t speak English (this little boy’s is excellent). He wishes he could play video games, but he can’t afford them. “I am saving my money and have three dollars,” he informed me. He told me of his old shack in the camp. He likes his new house better. “At least we have things to sleep on now,” he told me. He then explained his old blanket on the dirt. “I’ve seen places like this,” I thought to myself. But suburbia has kicked back in.
My backyard in Haripur, Nepal (November 2011) Credit: Stephanie May
REFUGEE: one that flees; especially : a person who flees to a foreign country or power to escape danger or persecution
Synonyms: alien, displaced person, foreigner, outcast
The opposite of refugee is, citizen.
CITIZEN: an inhabitant of a city or town; especially : one entitled to the rights and privileges of a freeman
Synonyms: freeman, national, native
Mikey and his family are doing fine. Their struggle carries on, but they have been introduced to and follow the God who carries them. They are no longer refugees, but citizens…citizens of heaven.
If there was ever a reason to stay in Colorado, this very group of people would without a doubt be a major draw for me. I regret having to say “hello” and then “goodbye” so quickly once again. I’ve come to the conclusion that the LORD has called me to be His hands and feet amongst forgotten people no matter where I find myself…overseas, in a big city, or in suburbia. My Father’s very heart is for these.