Bhutanese/Nepalese/Refugee Community Update
Help is needed this summer with refugee/Nepali speaking ministries. To learn about the opportunities or to volunteer, click here.
Bhutanese/Nepalese/Refugee Community General Information:
The Bhutanese 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.
History of the Bhutanese Refugee Crisis: If you would like to understand the history of the Bhutanese refugees, click here.
Contact persons: The staff person supporting the ministry to our Bhutanese/Nepalese community is Patty Dekker. Her e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. The lay person responsible primarily for overseeing the off-site ministry to our Bhutanese/Nepalese community is Alice Andrews. Her e-mail is email@example.com.
Worship: You are invited to join in Thornapple’s Nepali language worship service, taking place 10:30-11:30 in the Community Room 2nd through 4th Sundays of each month. All are welcome! If you have questions please contact Patty Dekker, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ongoing opportunities to help our Bhutanese friends:
- Drivers: We are continually in need of people to help drive our Bhutanese 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 email@example.com.
- Tutors/educational coaches are needed for adults and children in our Bhutanese community. The commitment would be for a once a week meeting during the school year. For information, please contact Elaine Graves at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Family Liaisons are needed for our Bhutanese friends. Our goal is to have a liaison for each Bhutanese 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 email@example.com.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Bhutanese live 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.
- Government Paperwork: Many of the Bhutanese need help completing forms and working through the process to secure their green cards (permanent resident status). For more information contact Tim Friesen.
- Our Bhutanese community uses our food pantry every week. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.