Ministry to Nepali-Speaking Community

The Nepali-Spreaking community at Thornapple is growing. New families continue to move to Grand Rapids under the auspices of PARA (Programs Assisting Refugee Acculturation). Here at Thornapple we are continuing to help families where we can with basic needs (clothing, medical care, schooling, learning to drive, furniture, etc.). On Sunday mornings we offer worship and teaching in the Nepali language, as well as home Bible studies during the week. Our Minister to Thornapple's Nepali-speaking community is Ram Aryal. You can email Ram Aryal at  

Interested in learning more about the Nepalese-speaking community and possibly volunteering? Come to NS Volunteering 101 on September 30. To learn more, click here.

Refugee Ministry Current Needs:  We need volunteers. There are several ways/levels of commitment where you can help. Refer to the list below. Please contact Patty Dekker with your interest or questions at 957-0580, or

  • Drivers: We need additional drivers (both those with or without CDL licenses) for Sunday mornings. Contact Greg Longworth or Patty Dekker if you can help. (See #1 under Ongoing Opportunities below for more details.)
  • Medical visit transportation: We need people to drive folks to a medical appointment, a translator meets you at the office.   
  • Paperwork: Life in the US involves an overwhelming amount of paperwork! Assistance for food/medical, and Green card applications are ongoing. Could you commit to walk with a refugee through the process of completing 1 set of paperwork?  
  • Family liaison: Adjustment to life in the US takes several years and  caring individuals are needed to meet regularly with a family in need helping them understand all of the complexities of their new life.  

History of the Bhutanese Refugee Crisis: If you would like to understand the history of the Bhutanese refugees, click here.

Contact persons: Ram Aryal, the Minister to the Nepali-Speaking Community can be emailed at: Patty Dekker is the Nepali-Speaking Ministry Coordinator and you can email her at: The lay person responsible primarily for overseeing the off-site ministry to our Nepali-Speaking community is Alice Andrews. Her e-mail is

Worship: You are invited to join in Thornapple’s Nepali language worship service, taking place from 10:30 to 11:30am in the Community Room 2nd through 4th Sundays of each month. All are welcome!

If you are interested to learn more information or would like to help in one of the areas listed below, please contact Patty Dekker at  You can also email Ram Aryal, the Minister to the Nepali-Speaking Community at

Ongoing opportunities to help our Bhutanese friends:

  1. Drivers: We are continually in need of people to help drive our Nepali-Speaking friends to church on Sundays.  We need people who are willing to get a CDL license to drive one of our buses OR people who are willing to drive their own cars when we need extra drivers.  If you can help drive once in awhile, either van or bus, contact Greg Longworth at  
  2. Tutors/educational coaches are needed for adults and children in our Nepali-Speaking community.  The commitment would be for a once a week meeting during the school year.  For information, please contact Elaine Graves at
  3. Family Liaisons are needed for our Nepali-Speaking friends.   Our goal is to have a liaison for each Nepali-Speaking family.  This liaison would meet with the family once a week to hear their concerns and direct them to the appropriate resource. If you are interested, please contact Alice Andrews at
  4. Discipleship:  There are a few individuals who are ready and interested in one on one Bible study, and who have enough English that this could happen.  We are looking for a few people who might commit to meeting weekly over a 6 week time frame to work through a basic Bible study program.  Most of these people are Hindu, but have expressed an interest in learning about the Christian faith.
  5. Employment: PARA attempts to help refugees become self supporting through job club and other assistance, but that assistance ends after 6 months.  With our current economy, finding entry level jobs has been a challenge.  If you know of work opportunities, or if you have the ability to help individuals in their search for employment, we could use your help.
  6. Housing: As with employment, assistance is provided for the first 6 months that families are in the US.  They are initially placed in low income apartment units; many of the Nepali-Speaking community lives in the Breton/44th/Kalamazoo area.  As extended families arrive, there is a desire for them to be together, and for families to be in more stable housing.  If you have an interest or experience in housing issues (rental, maintenance, real estate) and could assist families in finding good housing situations, there is a need to coordinate this effort and develop a network of resources. 
  7. Government Paperwork: Many in the Nepali-Speaking community need help completing forms and working through the process to secure their green cards (permanent resident status).  For more information contact Tim Friesen.
  8. Our Nepali-Speaking community uses our food pantry one or two times a month. Supplies are needed and can be donated to the Food Pantry:
  • We are always in need of toilet paper, size 3 & 4 diapers and feminine hygiene products.
  • Please contact Kim Mulder at 957-0580 if you can help with any of these items or have questions about the food pantry.

If you are interested in learning more or would like to serve in one of the above areas, please contact Patty Dekker at