“What Can you do, O Man?” Micah 6…

“What Can You Do, O Man?” Micah 6…

To see a short introduction to the twenty five minute video interview, click here.

Missionary to America Vijay Gurrala

People sometimes ask, “When did you decide to become a pastor?” My answer is always the same: “This morning, when I woke up.” The truth is, I never had a dream or vision to call me into public ministry; it is the best way I have found for me to serve the Lord. If you asked if I had a divine revelation at some point, sorry – that wasn’t the case. That is not true for everyone. Take the missionary to America Vijay Gurrala. 

Rev. Gurrala grew up as a Christian in a small village in India, Guntur. He is a member of the fourth generation of Christian Gurralas, his great grandfather, Enoch, having been evangelized by German missionaries in the 19th century. 

The missionaries had impressed Enoch Gurrala through the sacrifices they were making to show his village the love of Jesus. European and American missionaries came thousands of miles to many small villages; they walked from village to village, state to state, many times in monsoon rains. The missionaries spent their lives learning the local language and customs, as signs of respect. The sacrifices of the missionaries improved the lives of the local people. They invested years starting schools to lift poor rural farmers out of poverty. Many of those European and American missionaries never returned to their homelands, their graves in the new land marked by simple crosses. As did their Lord, they sacrificed themselves to share Christ’s love.

I can tell you by personal experience, no great mission was ever accomplished without some great sacrifice. 

With the education he received, Vijay Gurrala’s grandfather was trained to be a pastor, and later a mission supervisor over churches in ten villages.

His father benefitted from the education in Christian schools and rose to be a government worker. Still, he sacrificed his weekends to go to areas where the gospel had not been known.  In his later years Vijay’s father would come to America, and choose to minister in prisons.  There are many other things his father could have done. 

What about Vijay? Because of the sacrifices of the European missionaries he received a good education. He became a computer engineer, earning a Masters in Computer Science. The Gurrala family was brought to Houston by Amaco. He was making a very good living. The Gurralas were comfortable; they worshipped at Epiphany Lutheran Church, where Vijay started Bible study groups.

A layman, he started a Christian Telugu fellowship that met monthly to pray and sing hymns, socialize and share Indian food. In time, thirty percent of the group became composed of new Christians. Another fifteen percent were Hindu spouses and children. All were welcomed; all were loved.

One day, flying home from a business trip, he was studying his Bible, Micah 6, where the Lord demands His people listen to Him and respond in significant ways to His incredible love. Then the question – what is required of YOU now , (verse 8) “What can you do, O man?” What sacrifice will you make? Vijay Guralla’s spirit was shaken. He knew what he had to do, what the Lord was asking of him. From now on he would set aside his comfortable life, become a student, begin a four year program leading to ordination as an ordained pastor. He did not have to do this, but he knew he was being called to a different life. 

After graduation, Vijay Guralla became the first ordained missionary for LINC Houston, the Lutheran Inner City Network. Working with LINC Rev. Guralla leads Our Redeemer Lutheran Church (Telugu), based at Pilgrim Lutheran Church. Three times a month the worship service is in English, then, on the third Sunday – the day after the Telugu Cultural Group meets – the worship service is in Telugu. The missionary also started several home Bible study groups around Houston, one fifty miles away, as seeds for new Telugu churches. 

The European missionaries who went to Guntur could not have dreamed that a descendent of Enoch Guralla would be brought to Houston Texas to be a missionary to America.  Well, maybe they did – if they heard what the prophet Micah heard. If they believed what the earliest missionaries believed – that the good news was travel all the way from Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. 

To see the full video interview, click here.

 

 

Un Lugar Seguro Para Los Misioneros

Un Lugar Seguro Para Los Misioneros

Mark Junkans – Misionero en los Estados Unidos

“La misión es desordenada.” Al igual que la manera en que nos volvemos misioneros, como fue con el Rev. Mark Junkans. Hijo de un pastor, si bien todavía se consideraba cristiano, Mark se había alejado de la fe. Al terminar la secundaria se fue de su casa en el medio oeste para hacer surf en el sur de Tejas. El pelo lo llevaba largo, y podríamos decir que su comportamiento no iba de acuerdo con la Escritura. El comentario de un amigo lo dejó frío: “Tú eres la razón por la cual no soy cristiano. Dices ser cristiano, pero no te comportas como tal”. Le dolió mucho escuchar eso, pero fue un llamado de atención. En una revista de surf leyó un aviso que decía: “Sirve a Dios haciendo surf”. Era del grupo “Juventud con una misión” y ofrecía preparar y enviar jóvenes a dar testimonio en Méjico. Le preguntó a un pastor local qué opinaba, y el pastor le dijo: “¿Por qué no servir allí a Dios?”

Ahora Mark quería compartir el amor de Jesús con los inmigrantes de habla hispana. Aprendió que en Houston ya había tres ministerios que estaban haciendo eso, así que se ofreció a servir de voluntario. Se encontró con que sería útil pero sólo si hablaba español, y ese no era su caso. (Recuerden, la misión es desordenada.) Lo que sí sabía era tocar la guitarra, y uno de esos ministerios necesitaba a alguien que ayudara con la música en los servicios de adoración.

Mark se dedicó a estudiar español, encontró trabajo con albañiles hispanos y alquiló una habitación en la casa de una familia hispana en un barrio mejicano en Houston. Para acortar la historia, cuando el misionero de la iglesia donde Mark estaba trabajando se fue, a Mark lo licenciaron como diácono y le pidieron que liderara la iglesia. Y entonces la iglesia empezó a desplomarse. Y ahora, ¿qué?

Una vez no apareció nadie para el servicio de adoración. Sin embargo, después de cuarenta minutos, una mujer vino y dijo: “¿No vino nadie? No te preocupes. Fuiste llamado a estar aquí.”  Y luego se fue. Esa sabia mujer se convertiría en la suegra de Mark.

Mark Junkans persistió. Comenzó una clase para ciudadanía, un coro, clases de inglés como segundo idioma y un club de fútbol, con el objetivo de establecer contactos con inmigrantes hispanos. La iglesia comenzó a crecer, pero como muchos de los nuevos miembros eran inmigrantes, también eran móviles. Se mudaban a distintas partes de la ciudad, más cerca del trabajo o de la escuela, o a una vivienda mejor. Así fue como el misionero se dio cuenta que tenía que cambiar. Estaba llevando a cabo su ministerio como si fuera una iglesia, cuando lo que tenía que hacer era pensar en su congregación como una base misional, una base a partir de la cual formar misioneros.

Un grupo en Dallas ya se había embarcado en esa misión, creando una sociedad misionera llamada LINC, Lutheran Inner City Networking Coalition. El objetivo era poner en marcha un espacio sagrado, un lugar seguro para formar misioneros para la ciudad. El grupo proporcionaría una “burbuja” para proteger a los misioneros, utilizando nuevas técnicas para identificar, equipar y apoyar a aquellos que podrían comenzar nuevas comunidades de fe. Sería un modelo bi-vocacional, independiente de subsidio externo, que proporcionaría un sistema de apoyo y cobertura oficial para los misioneros. Dado que las diferentes culturas requieren diferentes enfoques para el ministerio, la capacitación sería sensible a las necesidades particulares de cada grupo.

Mark dice: “En el pasado, exigíamos que las personas se vistieran y cantaran como nosotros, que adoptaran nuestra cultura, en vez de contextualizar la adoración y el ministerio”. Se inició un Instituto Bíblico con entrenamiento a nivel básico. Quienes tuvieran éxito en el Instituto Bíblico estarían listos para ingresar a un Instituto Étnico preseminario de teología, donde trabajarían como vicarios bajo la supervisión del clero ordenado. Uno de los resultados secundarios, inesperado al principio, fue la red de apoyo que se desarrolló entre los misioneros de diferentes orígenes étnicos. Los líderes y la red, según Mark, “avivan en los líderes la pasión por llegar a sus comunidades con el evangelio, y luego equipan a otros líderes para llevar el evangelio y ser entrenadores de líderes en sus países de origen”.

La misión es desordenada. Fue desordenada cuando Jesús nació como bebé en un establo, cuando ministró y confrontó las ideas equivocadas del liderazgo arraigado, y fue aún más desordenada cuando colgó en una cruz. Pero el Señor sabe cómo traer victoria de la derrota, vida de la muerte y misioneros de hijas e hijos descarriados.

Para ver el video de la entrevista con el misionero Junkans, haga aquí.

A SAFE PLACE FOR MISSIONARIES

A Safe Place For Missionaries

Missionary to America Mark Junkans

“Missions is messy.” Even how we become missionaries. Take Rev. Mark Junkans for example. Mark, the son of a pastor, had drifted away from his faith, although he still considered himself a Christian. After highschool, he left his home in the Midwest for the surfer life in south Texas. His hair was shoulder length, and his behavior was not, shall we say, according to Scripture.  A comment from a friend caught Mark up short: “You are the reason I am not a Christian. You call yourself a Christian, but you do not act like one.” It was painful to hear, but it caused the young man to take stock of his life. In the back of “Surfing Magazine” he read an ad: “Serve God and surf” it said. It was an offer from the group “Youth With A Mission,” an offer to prepare and send young people to witness in Mexico.  He asked a local pastor what he thought – the pastor said, “Why not serve God here?” 

Mark now felt a desire to share the love of Jesus with Spanish speaking immigrants. He found out there were Hispanic outreach ministries in Houston, three to be exact. He approached one to volunteer, and found out it would be helpful if he spoke Spanish. He did not. (Remember, missions is messy). But he did play the guitar and one of the ministries needed someone to accompany the worship services. 

Mark studied hard to learn Spanish, found a job working with Spanish speaking construction workers and rented a room from a Spanish speaking family in a Mexican neighborhood of Houston.  To make a long story short, when the missionary at the church where he was working left, Mark was made a licensed deacon and asked to lead the church. It was then that the church took a nosedive. Messy! What’s next?

One time, no one showed up for worship. After forty minutes, though, one woman came and said, “Nobody here? Don’t worry. You were called to be here.” Then she left. This wise woman later would become Mark’s mother in law.

Mark Junkans persisted. He began an American Citizens Class, an after school choir, English as a Second Language class, a soccer club – all to make contacts with Hispanic immigrants. The church began to grow – but, since many of the new members were immigrants, they were mobile. They moved around the city, closer to work, or to school, or to better living conditions. It was then that the missionary realized he had to change. He was working the ministry as a church, while what he needed to do was to think of his congregation as a mission base. A base from which to form missionaries. 

Another group, one in Dallas, had already embarked on such a mission. They created a mission society called LINC, Lutheran Inner City Networking Coalition.  The aim was to put in place a sacred space, a safe place, to form missionaries for the city. The group would provide a “bubble” to protect missionaries, using new techniques to identify, equip and support those who could begin new communities of faith. It would be a bivocational model, independent of outside subsidy – supplying a support system and an official cover for missionaries. Because different cultures require different approaches to ministry, the training would be sensitive to the needs of individual groups. 

Mark says, “In the past we would require people to dress and sing like us, to adopt our culture, instead of contextualizing worship and ministry.”  A Bible Institute was started as entry level training. Those who were successful at the Bible Institute would be ready to enter a preseminary Ethnic Institute of Theology, where they would work as vicars under the supervision of ordained clergy.  One of the side results, unexpected at the start, was the supportive network that developed among missionaries from different ethnic backgrounds.  The leaders and the network, according to Mark, “fan into flame a passion for leaders to reach their communities with the gospel, and then equip other leaders to bring the gospel to their home countries, to go back and be trainers of leaders in their countries of origin.”

Missions is messy. It was messy when a baby was born in a stable, when He ministered among and confronted the wrong ideas of entrenched leadership. It was even more messy when He hung on a cross. But the Lord has a way of bringing victory out of defeat, life out of death, missionaries out of wayward daughters and sons. 

To see the video interview with Missionary Junkans, click here.

The Missionary of Reconciliation

 

The Missionary of Reconciliation

Missionary to America Jose Flores.

The civil war began in El Salvador in 1980 and lasted for twelve years. It was brutal, with extreme violence on both sides. “Death Squads” attacked civilians. An unknown number of people “disappeared.”  According to the best reports, seventy five thousand died in the conflict.

In the midst of the pain and trauma of war, spiritual questions were unavoidable; where was God in this?  Can there be reconciliation after the torture and killings? Can we find a way to forgive? That is why the missionary came to the small, grieving village. 

At the end of the fighting, young Jose Flores, just beginning ministry in Argentina, went with Christian medical students to volunteer  to bring healing in remote areas of El Salvador.  The team learned many things, but the things that stood out were how terrible human beings can be to each other, and how broken were the country’s relationships. Part of the pain of the people in the small villages was the hatred they felt at those who had brutalized them. Could there ever be forgiveness?

While the medical students addressed physical pain, Flores brought another gift, a gift of reconciliation. He prayed with relatives and friends of victims on both sides of the conflict. He poured God’s Word on the injuries of their spirits.  He loved them with God’s Savior. 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 To see a short introductory video of our interview wtih Pastor Flores, click here. 

Where Jesus is present, peace and reconciliation follow. 

Missionary Flores continues Jesus’ ministry of reconciliation in the broken parts of America. As and ordained pastor in the Texas District, he addresses the many physical needs of the people in the neighborhood around the church – primarily the needs for food and shelter and legal ways to become a US citizen.  Then there is the opportunity to sit and pray and share God’s promises with parents and children at Shriner’s Hospital in Galveston.

Parents bring their very ill children to the hospital from the United States, but also from Mexico and other parts of Central America. Many times this is their last try, the last hope for healing of their child. However, not only does Missionary Flores minister to their spiritual needs, he also prepares those that have been touched by God’s Word to share that Word, that hope, God’s love, with others. In other words, to equip them to be missionaries when they return home.

Missionary Flores says the people of his church see their work “not as a mirror, but as a window.” They were not going to be “navel gazing” Christians – looking at their own needs, no matter how poor or how ill they were. The people of his church are looking beyond their own needs, and bringing  reconciliation into the lives of those around them. They are God’s missionaries of peace and reconciliation. 

 “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Jesus, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Colossians 1:19-20.

To see the full 25 minute video, click here.

 

Testimonio en sus Lugares de Trabajo

Joann Adebisi nació en una familia musulmana en Nigeria. Su padre tenía seis esposas. Los celos de las otras esposas le hicieron la vida difícil, especialmente cuando hacía algo bien; en esos momentos era cuando más se ensañaban con ella. Pero su padre prestó atención especial a esa hija brillante, energética y que a menudo se sacrificaba por él para mostrarle cuánto le amaba. Sentía un orgullo especial por el compromiso que la niña tenía con el islam: iba temprano en la mañana a la mezquita, donde era la única niña entre todos los adultos. Pero al crecer, Joann cambió de opinión.

Cuando estaba padeciendo de una enfermedad seria y no lograba encontrar paz en la fe en la que había nacido, Joann buscó a Jesús. Veía que sus compañeros cristianos vivían satisfechos y quería lo mismo para ella. Así que se apartó de su familia y encontró el consuelo que necesitaba en el Dios cristiano. El poder que recibió en la adoración la impulsó a compartir con sus compañeros de trabajo, en las Aerolíneas Lufthansa, la alegría que había encontrado al adorar a un Dios que la amaba. Pero no siempre recibió una respuesta positiva.

Su esposo era el intendente de su ciudad en Nigeria. Pero la situación política en ese país se había deteriorado y los ataques políticos lo forzaron a sacar del país a Joann y los niños, quienes finalmente encontraron un lugar seguro en los Estados Unidos.
Luego de retomar su trabajo en Lufthansa, pero ahora en los Estados Unidos, Joann volvió a amigarse con un ex compañero de trabajo, un musulmán de Pakistán. Llegaron a hacerse muy buenos amigos, hasta que ella le dijo que había sido musulmana, pero se había convertido al cristianismo. Joann dice que su amigo quedó helado y sin hablar. Cuando finalmente habló, con una mirada amenazante le dijo: “Sabes que debería matarte”. Pero ha tenido otras respuestas más positivas. Joann comparte su mensaje en los lugares públicos, en su trabajo y con los niños inmigrantes en su vecindario. A menudo los jóvenes, que todavía están tratando de encontrar su lugar en una nueva cultura, están confundidos y se meten en problemas en la escuela y en la casa. Joann sabe, por experiencia propia, cómo llegar a ellos. Y sus vecinos, tanto cristianos como musulmanes, lo ven y la aman por ello.

Es interesante e importante notar que Jesús pasó mucha parte de su ministerio en los lugares públicos, con los negociantes. Jesús mismo había aprendido un oficio y era conocido no sólo como “el hijo del carpintero”, sino también como “el Carpintero”. Muy pocas veces lo encontramos enseñando en la sinagoga o el Templo. Lo mismo es cierto de los primeros cristianos misioneros, quienes llevaron a Cristo a la vida diaria de las personas. En mi opinión, muchos cristianos en los Estados Unidos han perdido esto de vista en sus lugares de trabajo. “Aquí no se habla de política o religión.”

Lucas nos muestra que Aquila y Priscila, los compañeros de trabajo de Pablo, eran fabricantes de tiendas de campaña, igual que Pablo (Hechos 18:3). Esto los puso en contacto con personas que jamás hubieran ido a una sinagoga o entrado al Templo. Pareciera que la mayor parte de su trabajo misional lo realizaron fuera de las áreas religiosas formales. Priscila y Aquila, junto con Pablo, llevaron su negocio de hacer tiendas a Éfeso y luego a Roma, desparramando así el amor de Jesús dondequiera que iban.
El objetivo de la misión es hacer discípulos, más y más discípulos maduros de Jesús. La misión se lleva adelante cuando los cristianos dan su testimonio individual en sus lugares de trabajo, en sus vecindarios, en sus familias. De esa forma se van a ganar más personas para Cristo, que de todos los sermones predicados en todas las iglesias.

Para ver un videoclip de la entrevista a Joann Adebisi, haz click aquí.

Para ver todo el video de la entrevista a Joann Adebisi, haz click aquí.

Dr. Robert Scudieri, Presidente
Mission Nation Publishing

Tr. B. Hoppe

The Business of Mission

 

Joann Adebisi was born into a Muslim family in Nigeria. Her father had six wives, and Joann had a difficult time because of the jealousy of her father’s other wives, especially when she did something well and the other wives came down hard on her. But her father  showed special attention to the bright, energetic daughter who often sacrificed for him, to show how much she loved him.  He was especially proud of the way the girl grew in her commitment to Islam, getting to the mosque early in the morning, the only child among the adults.  But, as an adult, she had a change of heart. 

Struggling with a serious illness, unable to find peace in the faith into which she was born, Joann looked to Jesus. She saw a contentment in her Christian co-workers she wanted for herself.  Breaking with her family, she found the consolation she needed in the Christian God. The power she received in worship propelled her to tell people where she worked, Lufthansa Airlines, about her new found joy, worshipping a God she knew loved her. She did not always receive a positive response.

Joann’s husband was the mayor of their town in Nigeria, but the political situation in Nigeria deteriorated; political attacks forced him to send Joann and their children away – finally finding safety in the United States.   

Back at her former job with Lufthansa, but now in America, Joann made friends with an older co-worker, a Muslim man from Pakistan. They became good friends, until she revealed she had been a Muslim but had converted to Christianity. Joann says the Pakistani man was stunned into silence. When he did find his words, he glared at her through threatening eyes and said: “You know, I should kill you.”  But there were more positive responses. Joann takes her message to the marketplace, to her business, and to immigrant children in her neighborhood. The young ones are often confused while trying to find their place in a new culture. They get into trouble at home and in school. She has a way with “troubled” children, having been one. Her neighbors, Christian and Muslim, see this and love her for it.

It is interesting and important to note that Jesus spent much of his ministry in the marketplace, with business people. Jesus Himself was taught a trade and was known not only as “the carpenter’s son” but also as, “the Carpenter.”  We see Him only a few times teaching in a synagogue or the Temple. That is true as well for the earliest Christian missionaries. They brought Christ into the everyday lives of people. In my opinion, many Christians in America have lost this kind of focus at their places of business.  “Do not talk about politics or religion.”

Luke shows us that Paul’s co-workers, Priscilla and Aquila,  were tentmakers,” as was Paul.(Acts 18:3).  This put them in contact with people who would never have come into a synagogue or entered the Temple.  It seems they did most of their mission work outside the formal religious areas. Priscilla and Aquila took their tent making business with Paul to Ephesus, and then to Rome – scattering the love of Jesus wherever they went.

The business of mission is to make disciples, more and more mature disciples of Jesus. Mission is done best when individual Christians are taking their witness to their places of business, to their neighborhoods, to their families. More will be won for Christ in that way than from all the sermons preached in all the churches.  

To see an short clip of the video interview with Joann Adebisi, click here.

To see the full video interview with Joann Adebisi, click here.

 

 

¿Cuántos milagros son necesarios para traer a un niño del sureste de Asia a Minnesota para que sea misionero?

 

Missionary to America, Rev. Vue Lee, King of Kings, Roseville, Mn.

Piense en lo siguiente: un niño nacido de padres animistas en un campo de refugiados en el sudeste de Asia termina siendo misionero en los Estados Unidos, en St. Paul, Minnesota.

Al quedar sola y temiendo por su supervivencia, la madre se dedicó a coser. Pero lo que ganaba no era suficiente para alimentar al pequeño Vue y sus tres hermanos, por lo que tuvieron que pedir asistencia social y vales para comida, y vivir en viviendas subvencionadas por el gobierno. Aun así, la familia Lee devolvió cada centavo del préstamo de $1500 con que habían comprado los pasajes para venir a los EE.UU.

Vue terminó la secundaria, pero no pudo ir a la universidad porque la familia necesitaba más ingresos. Para ayudar a su familia trabajó en tres lugares a la vez, hasta que McDonalds le ofreció el puesto de gerente en el restaurante en que estaba trabajando. 

A los dieciséis años, Vue se casó con una chica Hmong cristiana. Pero el acuerdo fue que ella debía seguir las tradiciones animistas de los Hmong. Se mudaron a San José y tuvieron hijos. Al comenzar a trabajar en una compañía telefónica, sus finanzas mejoraron. Pero surgió otro problema.

La esposa de Vue no podía cumplir su promesa de renunciar a la fe cristiana, por lo que regresó a su fe y quiso que sus hijos y esposo también lo hicieran. Esto causó conmoción en la familia. Al principio, Vue sospechó. Después de todo, como buen Hmong tradicional había aprendido a temer a los “espíritus” que infectaban al mundo, espíritus que siempre estaban buscando de engañar y arruinar a las personas.

Espíritus en los árboles, lagos y ríos, espíritus en el aire y en los animales. ¿Cómo podía permitir que su familia se uniera a una iglesia cristiana?

Por otro lado, respetaba a los cristianos. Le habían dicho que los cristianos tenían buenos valores morales, y sabía que sus hijos necesitaban una buena base moral. Además, cerca de su casa había una congregación cristiana Hmong. Así fue como llegó a probar la fe cristiana, comenzando a aprender lo que significa ser cristiano. Al principio se sentaba en el último banco de la iglesia, hasta que tomó en serio el Catecismo Menor de Lutero y su fe maduró. Luego se lanzó de lleno, siendo bautizado a los 23 años. La Biblia le hablaba a sus necesidades, y entre los cristianos encontró paz. Pasó a ser un diácono en su iglesia y pronto, junto con su familia, se sentaban ya en el primer banco. De niño había escapado de la guerra en Asia y ahora, de adulto, había escapado del mundo de esos espíritus celosos y demandantes.

En los años que siguieron, Vue Lee prosperó financieramente. Su esposa comenzó un pequeño negocio, compraron un auto nuevo y una casa grande. Todo iba bien, hasta que un día Vue sintió un dolor muy fuerte en la espalda. Pensó que quizás había hecho un mal movimiento o levantado algo demasiado pesado. O quizás los espíritus estaban enojados con él. No sabía qué le causaba ese dolor, aunque a veces suceden cosas que uno no puede explicar. Pero el dolor era tan debilitante, que no podía salir de su casa. Una operación mal hecha lo dejó inválido e incapaz de trabajar. Al no contar con el sueldo regular de Vue, la familia perdió todo: el auto, la casa, su orgullo. “Señor, ¿por qué?”

Después de seis meses de pelear con Dios en un desierto espiritual, Vue recordó una promesa que le había hecho a Dios. Algunos años antes había sentido el llamado a ser pastor, pero lo descartó. Aun así, siguió apareciendo. Todavía recordaba la oración que había hecho para alejarse de ese llamado: “Señor, si de alguna manera encuentras la forma de pagar todas mis deudas, iré al seminario.” En ese entonces parecía algo imposible. Pero ahora la casa y el auto se habían ido, ¡y con ellos las deudas! No era la estrategia que él tenía en mente, pero ciertamente ya no tenía excusa. ¿Qué iba a pensar su familia?

Primero lo habló con su esposa. Le dijo que su corazón ardía por convertirse en pastor. Su respuesta fue: “Pero yo no sirvo para esposa de pastor.” Estuvieron de acuerdo en orar sobre ello. Dos semanas más tarde, ella le dijo a Vue: “Esta mañana escuché una voz muy clara que me dijo con tanta claridad como el día: ‘Vende tu negocio y sigue a tu esposo.’” La respuesta de Vue fue: “Quizás no debas decirle esto a muchas personas; van a creer que estamos locos.”

Cuanto más oraron, más paz sintieron con respecto al llamado que Vue había recibido. En ningún momento dudaron, ni siquiera con respecto a mudarse tan lejos para que Vue fuera a la universidad en St. Paul, Minnesota. Estaban en paz, sabiendo que el Señor iba con ellos. Y así era.

La iglesia en California juntó $2400 para ayudarlos a mudarse a la Universidad Concordia en St. Paul. Iban a tener que hacer sacrificios, pero el apoyo de amigos y familiares, y especialmente el apoyo de Concordia, hizo posible que Vue comenzara a estudiar. La Universidad está ubicada en una comunidad multiétnica, y en St. Paul hay una población Hmong muy grande que iba a servir de apoyo a la familia. Luego de pagar por la mudanza, la familia Lee llegó a St. Paul con $400.

Vivieron en un apartamento en la universidad y un familiar Hmong les proveyó alimentos hasta que la Sra. Lee pudiera encontrar trabajo. Pero ¿quién la iba a emplear? Al poco tiempo de llegar, recibió una llamada sorpresa de una persona con una oferta de trabajo. “¿Cómo supo que necesitaba trabajo?” La persona le dijo que había visto su aplicación en Monster.com. “¡Pero eso lo hice haces dos años! Ya me había olvidado.”

Junto con otros dos estudiantes Hmong, Vue Lee comenzó una iglesia Hmong en el sótano de su apartamento, pero pronto ya no cabían más. Hoy adoran como parte de la Iglesia Luterana King of Kings. Luego de cuatro años de estudio, Vue se graduó de Concordia y continuó sus estudios en el EIIT (Instituto de Teología para Inmigrantes Étnicos), para ser ordenado. En la actualidad, sirve como misionero y pastor en la iglesia King of Kings.

No contentos con tener que estar todo el tiempo calmando los espíritus demandantes, dos chamanes se unieron a la iglesia cristiana de Vue. Los chamanes son “llamados” por los espíritus; uno no puede decidir ser chamán. Y cada chamán sirve un espíritu determinado. Estos espíritus deben ser aplacados constantemente para mantenerlos a favor de uno, porque si no pueden causar daño. Pero cada vez demandan más y más; nada es nunca suficiente. Estos dos chamanes se habían cansado de tratar de aplacar sus espíritus.

Los cristianos Hmong saben que la única manera de liberarse de la esclavitud espiritual es volviéndose cristianos. Y eso fue los que los chamanes hicieron al unirse a King of Kings. Querían servir a un Dios de misericordia cuyo poder es mayor que el de los espíritus de este mundo; un Dios que les diera paz. Algunos dirán que esto fue un milagro, pero sólo fue uno de los muchos milagros que el misionero Hmong Vue Lee ha experimentado.

¿Cuántos milagros son necesarios para traer a un niño del sureste de Asia a Minnesota para que sea misionero? Sólo uno: el amor de Dios. Un Dios que amó tanto al mundo, que eligió para su ministerio a un niño desalojado por la guerra, asustado por los espíritus de este mundo, tentado por las riquezas y temeroso de alejarse de lo conocido.

Hoy, el Rev. Vue Lee dedica su vida a llevar el amor de Dios a los demás, en especial a quienes buscan liberarse de espíritus opresivos, presentándoles a Jesús, quien les trae paz eterna.

Tr. B. Hoppe

Para ver el video con el Rev. Lee, haz click aquí.

Para ver una breve entrevista con el misionero Lee, haz click aquí

Dr. Robert Scudieri, President

Mission Nation Publishing

How Many Miracles Does It Take…

How Many Miracles Does It Take…

Missionary to America, Rev. Vue Lee, King of Kings, Roseville, Mn.

Think about this : a baby, born in a refugee camp in Southeast Asia, of animist parents, becomes a missionary to America, in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Is this a miracle? Actually, along the way there were several miracles. 

Rev. Vue Lee was born in a refugee camp on an Army base in Thailand. A member of the Hmong , members of his family fought and died for America during the Vietnam war. As thanks for their loyalty, the Lees were lent $1500 by the US government to relocate in Sparta, Wisconsin; sometime after they arrived, Mr. Lee moved his family to Winton, a small town in California. Then, the father passed away.

Left alone, afraid of how they would survive,  the only way his mother could earn a living was to take in sewing.  Not able to earn enough to feed young Vue and his three siblings, the family went on welfare, and food stamps, living “across the tracks” in subsidized housing. Even so, the Lees paid back every cent of the $1500 loan for their airfare to America.

Vue graduated from high school – but he could not go to college because the family needed more income. He worked three jobs to help the family, until McDonalds offered him a position as a  manager of the restaurant where he had been working.

At sixteen, Vue married a  Christian Hmong girl. Their agreement was she had to  follow the animist traditions of the Hmong. He and his wife moved to San Jose and began a family. After he began working for the telephone company in San Jose, their finances improved. But there was other trouble.

Vue’s wife could not give up her Christian beliefs as she had agreed before the marriage. She returned to her faith and wanted to bring her children and husband with her. There was stress in the family. Vue was suspicious at first, after all, as a traditional Hmong, he had been brought up to fear the “spirits” that infested the world, spirits who were always looking to trick someone and bring them to ruin. 

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Spirits in the trees, in the lakes and rivers, spirits in the air and in animals. How could he let his family join a Christian church?

On the other hand, he respected Christians – he had been told Christians had good morals, and his children needed moral grounding. Plus, there was a Christian Hmong congregation nearby. He put a toe in the Christian water. He began classes to learn what it meant to be a Christian. In the beginning he sat in the back of the church, until he took Luther’s Small Catechism seriously, and his faith matured. Then he jumped in fully – Vue was baptized at 23. The Bible spoke to His needs and he found peace among the Christians. He became a deacon in the church, and he and his family moved to the front pew. As a child he had escaped from war in SE Asia, and now, as an adult, he escaped the world of those old, jealous, demanding spirits.

In the next few years Vue Lee  became materially successful. Mrs. Lee began a small business. They had the new car, the big house. All was well, until one day Vue experienced a severe pain in his back; maybe he had turned the wrong way, or picked up something that was too heavy. Maybe those old spirits were angry with him.  He didn’t know what caused the pain; sometimes things happen you can’t explain. The pain was debilitating and kept him at home. A botched operation left him an invalid, unable to work. With no regular paycheck from Vue, the family lost everything – the car, the house, their pride. “Lord, why?” 

After six months wrestling with God in a spiritual desert, Vue remembered a promise, a promise he had made to God. Some years before he had felt a calling to become a pastor, but shook off the idea. No matter, it kept coming back. He recalled the prayer he prayed to distance himself from that calling: “Lord, if, somehow, you find a way to pay off all my bills, then I will go to seminary.” Back then, it seemed it seemed impossible.  Well, now everything – the house, the car, all were gone, and with them the bills! It was not the strategy he had in mind, but now he had no excuse. What would the family think?

He approached his wife first. He told her there was a heat burning in his heart to become a pastor. Her response was, “But I am not pastor’s wife material.” They agreed to pray about it. Two weeks later she came to Vue and said, “This morning I heard a very distinct voice say to me, clear as day, “Sell your business and follow your husband.” Vue’s response was, “Maybe you shouldn’t tell to many people about this – they might think you are crazy.” 

The more they prayed,  the more at peace they became with the calling Vue had received.  They had no second thoughts, not even about moving halfway across the country for Vue to attend college in St. Paul, Minnesota. They were at peace, knowing the Lord would be with them. And He was.

The church in California raised $2400 to help them move to  Concordia University in St. Paul. It would require sacrifice, but support from friends and relatives and especially the support of Concordia made it a possibility for Vue to enter college. The university is located in a multi-ethnic community, and there is a large Hmong population in St. Paul where relatives could be a support base for the family. After paying for the move, the Lees arrived in St. Paul with only $400.

They lived in a dormitory at Concordia, and a Hmong relative fed the family until Mrs. Lee could find work.  But who would hire her? Then, soon after they arrived, Mrs. Lee received a surprise phone call: a man with a job offer. “How did you know I needed a job?” The caller told her he had found her application on Monster.com. “But I put that up two years ago! I forgot all about it.” 

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With two other Hmong students Vue Lee began a Hmong church in the basement of their dormitory. The “church” outgrew the basement and worships today as a part of King of Kings Lutheran. After four years of study, Vue graduated from Concordia. He then went through  EIIT (the Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology) in order to be ordained. He now serves as the missionary-co-pastor of King of Kings.

Discontented with having to appease demanding spirits all the time, two shamans joined Vue’s Christian church. Shamans have to be “called” by the Spirits; you cannot decide to be a Shaman. And each shaman serves particular spirits. These spirits must always be placated, kept on your good side or they will harm you. The Spirits demand more and more from you; you can never give them enough. These two shamans had grown tired of trying to placate the spirits.

Hmong Christians know that the only way out of spiritual slavery is to become a Christian. This is what the shamans did when they joined King of Kings. They wanted to serve a God of mercy whose power is stronger than the spirits of this world; a God who would bring them peace. Some would say this was a miracle, but it would be only one of many miracles the Hmong missionary Vue Lee has experienced.

How many miracles does it take to bring a child from Southeast Asia to Minnesota to be a missionary? Only one: the love of God, a God who loved the world so much that he selected for his ministry a  boy displaced by war, afraid of the spirits of this world, tempted by riches, and fearful of leaving familiar surroundings. 

Today Rev. Vue Lee  spends his life bringing the love of God to others, in particular, those looking for freedom from oppressive spirits. He introduces them to Jesus, the One Who brings eternal peace. 

To see the full video with Rev. Lee, click here.

To see a short interview with Missionary Lee, Click here

YOU RUN TOWARDS THE GUN

YOU RUN TOWARDS THE GUN

Missionary to America Julie Aftab

“You run towards the gun.”  The missionary shocked the audience at a recent conference I attended, by telling us, ” We are taught as children, ‘If an attacker enters your church, do not run away. Run towards the gun. That way you may die, but others will live.'”  When I heard that, I sat upright in my chair, remembering something another missionary had said. 

Rev. Tambatua Naibaho, a missionary sent to America by the Indonesian Batak Lutheran Church, says in the interview we did with him  a while ago that one of the jobs of the ushers at Easter and Christmas is to be the first to go into the church, to look under the pews to see if any bombs had been planted.

It is different in America: we are not required to take such risks.  We have a mostly complacent Christianity. Our children are not taught to run towards the gun. It costs to be a Christian in Indonesia and Pakistan. Julie Aftab found that out when she was sixteen years old. In a recent interview she tells us about that cost.

Julie is a missionary to Muslims in Houston, Texas, but she grew up in Pakistan. For many years her father was a truck driver, navigating the mountainous and many times unpaved roads in Pakistan. When his back gave out and he could no longer work, Julie’s mother earned an income sewing clothing. Unable to afford to go to a Christian school, Julie had to make due with public education. As a Christian she was a despised minority,  and was shunned by the children and teachers at her grade school. Once her teacher, disciplining the little girl, broke the knuckles of her hand. Unable to tolerate the abuse, she left school after fifth grade to help her mother sew.

In her early teenage years, when American children are beginning high school, Julie got a job sweeping floors in a factory. At sixteen, she was working behind the desk of a telephone call center when a middle age male customer came in. He made mention of the cross she was wearing. “Are you a Christian?” he asked. “Yes,” she answered. That is when the trouble began.

The man reached into his pocket and pulled out a wad of money. “If you convert to Islam you can have this money – even more if you wish.” The teenager declined the offer, but the man wasn’t listening and put more money on the counter. Another refusal. The man persisted, and Julie insisted he leave. “I will go, but we will see if your Jesus can save you.”

Thirty minutes later the man returned with a friend. the first man approached Julie at the counter. That is when he threw acid in her face. The other man dragged her down and held her while the first man poured acid down her throat. She ran outside – a kind Muslim woman wrapped her hijab around the girl, and brought her into her house to protect her.

It was difficult to find a hospital to treat her, since the man had claimed he had done this because the girl had insulted Islam. A mob threatened the burn down the first hospital she was taken to if they treated the Christian girl. Only at a fourth hospital was Julie’s mother’s pleas heard to give her aid to save her life. Her attachers went free. It took the Christian community to raise funds to send Julie to be treated in America for her to get well. The treatment has taken years.

Despite all the pain she has suffered, Julie has grown spiritually. It took time, but she has learned to forgive. Today she is a young mother, with a loving husband, searching out Muslims to tell them God who loves them. She is a living testimony to Who Jesus is – Jesus “ran towards the gun.” As the author of the letter to the Hebrews tells us:

 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” The Letter to the Hebrews, 12:1-3.(biblehub.com/hebrews/12-2.htm)

If you love God and want to serve Him, that service will involve risk. (See Matthew 25: 14 ff).  The Christians in Indonesia and in Pakistan know they are not alone – our Lord has given His word to be with us. (Matthew 28:20).

Maybe, as God winnows His flock in America, the time will come and some of us will be given the opportunity to “run towards some gun.” Even now we see formidable needs around us that require a faith-filled response. At those times, times of risk, face whatever the “gun” is knowing we are not alone.

To see our full thirty minute interview with Julie Aftab, click here.

To see a three minute clip from the thirty minute video, click here.

 

 

 

 

Se podía oír caer un alfiler

Se podía oír caer un alfiler

Dr. William Utech – Misionero en los Estados Unidos

El Dr. William Utech, Asistente para Misiones del Distrito Sur de Minnesota, tiene una visión especial con respecto a las misiones. Usualmente, creemos que la gran comisión significa ir a los confines de la tierra; pero Bill cree que los confines de la tierra están viniendo a Minnesota, “el único lugar donde hay más somalíes que en Somalia”. De acuerdo con un misionero de Minneapolis, dos tercios de la población de Minneapolis no son anglos.

¿Cómo se puede ayudar a las congregaciones mayormente anglas que quieren alcanzar y recibir a estos nuevos ciudadanos? ¿Cómo se les alienta a que se involucren y compartan el amor de Cristo en comunidades de inmigrantes? ¿Cómo se les instila pasión por la obra misional?

Bill Utech, junto con el Distrito Sur de Minnesota, ha encontrado una manera.

Bill se enfoca en la creación de nuevas misiones. Una de las funciones principales de un ejecutivo de misión, es cultivar una visión por la misión. En el Distrito de Bill, los líderes misionales entienden que su función principal es ayudar a las iglesias establecidas a comenzar nuevas iglesias. ¿Pero cómo se ayuda a iglesias que existen desde 1935, como Trinity en Medford, la iglesia de Bill, a enfilar su “visión por la misión”?

La iglesia Trinity Lutheran de Medford, está a 55 millas al sur de Minneapolis. Pero los refugiados e inmigrantes que llegaron primero a Minneapolis se están mudando ahora a ciudades más pequeñas. Dado su cargo como ejecutivo de misión, el Rev. Utech no quiso pedir a otros que hicieran lo que él no estaba dispuesto a hacer. Por lo tanto, junto con Mark Biebighauser, el pastor de Trinity, organizaron un viaje misional a Guatemala. Bill fue en el primer viaje exploratorio. Ayudar a una congregación a pensar más allá de sí misma es algo imprescindible si se quiere abrir la puerta del corazón a la misión.

Utech sabía algo acerca de CALMS (Central American Lutheran Mission Society), una organización que ayuda a las iglesias a tener éxito en sus viajes misionales. CALMS provee un asesor que ayuda a las iglesias a comprender la cultura de los pueblos de América Central y un traductor. Antes de hacer el viaje, la congregación tuvo que comprometerse a trabajar en conjunto durante cinco años; ir sólo una vez no permite establecer relaciones.

El 15 de enero de 2016, el pastor Biebighauser y siete miembros de Trinity partieron hacia Taguyny, Guatemala, donde compartieron el amor de Jesús, realizaron un campamento de deportes y establecieron relaciones con las personas de allí. El domingo después de regresar, el pastor Biebighauser invitó al grupo a que presentaran un informe al resto de la congregación. Bill dice: “Se podía oír caer un alfiler”.

Hablarle a una congregación acerca de la misión es un primer paso. Compartir fotos e historias acerca de las necesidades de otras personas también ayuda. Pero cuando Dios abre una puerta para la misión y su pueblo se encuentra y establece relaciones con quienes necesitan nuestro amor, nuestras oraciones y el amor de Jesús en su comunidad, el Espíritu de Dios nos abre los ojos, los oídos y el corazón para que “oigamos caer un alfiler”.

Dr. Robert Scudieri, President, Mission Nation Publishing

Tr. B. Hoppe

To see a fourteen minute interview with Dr. Utech, click here.

To see a short two minute introductory video, click here.