Photo by ITeams

Foundations for transformation among refugee youth of Pittsburgh

May 22, 2017

Seeing Jesus at work 
When we moved to Carrick, a neighborhood in Pittsburgh, two years ago, there was little momentum in ministry with the Nepali community. With thousands of Hindu neighbors all around us and a Christian population of less than 5%, the glimpses of transformation were few. Slowly we have seen Zion Christian Church (an American congregation with outreach to Nepalis), YWAM, and Nepali Anugraha Church of Pittsburgh begin to come together. Zion focuses on discipling Nepali kids from Hindu homes, YWAM connects with youth coming from a Hindu background, and Anugraha is a solid, growing Nepali congregation discipling families.
ITeams has been able to work with all three of these groups and provides expertise in discipleship and Nepali ministry. These groups are now doing much more together than they were two years ago. While we need many more workers, the excitement in the air reflects a shared desire for transformation.
Resources bringing about transformation
This past year, we entered into a partnership with Anugraha Nepali Church of Pittsburgh. They asked us to come alongside them to develop their youth and children’s ministries. About thirty youth meet throughout the week, and we’ve had the privilege of taking them through 30 stories of the Bible from creation to the resurrection. We are beginning to study the book of Acts with them. All the students and their families have been believers for less than six years so these core truths are laying a foundation for them and even future generations.
In addition to working with students in this Nepali congregation, YWAM has acquired a large storefront in the center of Carrick where 20 Hindu youth gather each week. Connections occur through video games, snacks, board games, Bible lessons, and small groups. YWAM, ITeams, and Zion Christian Church work together within this ministry space for a collaborative approach to ministry among Nepali youth. Several students from the youth group now attend Zion Christian Church.
No longer invisible
Our neighbor Purna is 21 and has mostly been on his own since he was eight. His mom left when he was three. When his dad remarried, his stepmother encouraged his father and her daughter to shun Purna. He had no choice but to sleep at different people’s houses in the refugee camp in Nepal and often disappeared for days at a time.
Purna met Jesus when he was 15 and his life was flipped upside down. He still had little relationship with his family, but when we moved to Carrick in 2015 Purna had also just moved in across the street. He visits our home several days a week often staying until late in the evenings. Purna is discipling us; we are discipling him. He has become like a son to us, and he is no longer invisible. Purna has a clear call to ministry and may join ITeams in formal leadership.
Celebrating transformation
In January, our ministry team and several partners took two weeks to fast and pray. One of the clearest things the Holy Spirit spoke to us was that we needed to work deeply into the community like a wedge driven into hardwood. This collaborative push in the community may be noticed by the surrounding Hindu community. We’re sharing ideas and praying Jesus will make clear to us how we can become such a force for the light of Jesus to be seen in this community.
As we integrate the initiatives of local partners and Nepali churches, we are starting to become that wedge we prayed for. We will continue to live among the Nepalis. This is an exciting move in the right direction. Leadership training and development in the Nepali community is underway. The wedge into this community has begun and investing in youth and children is the centerpiece for many ministries.