페이지 정보최고관리자 작성일21-06-26 00:52 조회121회 댓글0건
New Changing Life Church of the Nazarene is the first and only Nazarene church in Mankato, Minnesota. The church began through a relationship formed in an Ethiopian refugee camp in the 1990s.
Duoth “Thomas” Liem is the pastor of New Changing Life. He met Michael Gatkek, the African ministries facilitator for the USA/Canada Region, in a refugee camp in Ethiopia. Gatkek and Liem are both members of the Nuer tribe in South Sudan and had escaped the conflict into Ethiopia.
Gatkek helped disciple Liem, who began evangelizing to the youth in their camp and discipling others with Gatkek. Liem was soon in charge of programs and helping spread the Nazarene message of holiness to those in the camp.
In 2004, Liem immigrated to the United States. He moved to Kent, Washington, a suburb of Seattle, in 2007. Liem began to again feel the call to ministry while attending Hillside Church of the Nazarene in Kent.
“God was calling me for a while,” Liem said. “God was saying, ‘Go back to your job. Go back to the ministry.’ I said no, that I had a lot of stuff I wanted to do. But when God [kept] calling, I couldn’t say no.”
That’s when his old connection with Gatkek came into play. He received his local license through Hillside Church of the Nazarene and then moved to Mankato, Minnesota, due to the cost of living in the Seattle area. Mankato is the fifth largest city in the state of Minnesota, yet it had no Nazarene church. It also has a population of nearly 2,000 Sudanese and Ethiopian refugees.
Liem started holding services in his house and inviting co-workers and others who were part of the Sudanese community in Mankato.
“At my workplace, people asked why I came to Minnesota,” Liem said. “I told them that we are starting a church and they can come. I would tell people about Jesus in the breakroom.”
“Everybody has come one by one,” he continued. “We are teaching them how to be obedient and how God can guide them forward in their lives. God is calling people.”
The Prairie Lakes District had originally hoped to have Liem work with a church in St. Paul, but when they saw what was taking place in Liem’s house, they decided that the project should stay in Mankato. The group began growing too large for Liem’s house, so he started looking for a place for them to meet.
He left his business card at Resurrection Lutheran Church, and the pastor offered to let the church meet on their property. Now, New Changing Life’s services include 40 to 50 people.
Liem is passionate about getting the young people of the community involved. Many of the refugee children and youth struggle to find a place where they belong and feel out of place both with their parents and with their American peers. The church offers an afterschool program for children to receive help with their schoolwork as well as biblical teaching in their own language. Additional programs teach sports and computer coding, and counseling is available for the children and their parents.
“We need our young people to be busy with the church,” Liem said. “We have kids stuck in drugs and alcohol. We want to tell them that God is calling out to them.”
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