by Lam Nguyen
Great things are happening in LMC congregations as we are finding our way, Spirit-led, learning how to “welcome one another” and serve our “Neighbors.” The Youth from the Bridges Youth Group (BYG) are modeling what it means to follow Jesus.
BYG consists of four congregations – Crossroads, Habecker, Laurel Street, and RiversEdge Mennonite Church. In 2019, a Youth-led Vacation Bible School was established focused to (1) create relationships between congregations, (2) provide a safe space for children of Lancaster City to come to learn more about God and His Love for all, and (3) offer the next generation the opportunity to live out the Great Commission.
The following is a story between a refugee Youth Leader from Habecker and another Youth Leader. For nomenclature’s sake, a Youth Leader is any Youth who leads. Youth are reminded that they are capable of leading right now, just as they are!
A few months after our VBS 2019 ended, an Habecker Youth Leader shared a story of how working together, within intercultural congregations, with other Youth Leaders helped him feel included in his high school. The Habecker Youth Leader shared how, prior to VBS 2019, he was bullied at his school because he was a refugee and did not look like “everyone” else. One of the bullies would be reintroduced to the Habecker Youth Leader, during the VBS 2019 orientation, as a Youth Leader helper assigned to lead VBS 2019! The adult church leaders planned the orientation as a first gathering, to welcome and introduce the Youths from the various congregations. What transpired was the awakening of the church that the first gathering with “strangers” was not so!
As God would have it, these two Youth Leaders ended up on the same team/station during VBS 2019. The adult VBS Youth Leader Coaches, unaware of the previous history between the two Youth Leaders, provided words of encouragement and wisdom, with the emphasis that God can do ALL things. The Youth Leader Coaches prayed over the Youth Leaders and asked God to bless and protect their time with one another. The Lord answered!
VBS 2019 provided the safe space for transformation to occur. The Youth Leaders became good friends, through the act of service, leading, and being missional. The Youth Leaders were able to reconcile their relationship without any intervention from the adults. How amazing is that?
When asked to speak of their story of forgiveness, the two Youth Leaders kept it short and sweet. “We didn’t know each other and we just thought nasty things about each other. After working together to teach others, we realized we are more alike than not! Thank you, God.”
The LMC mission is a Spirit-led movement to: make disciples of Jesus, mobilize every member as a missionary, and multiply faith communities locally and beyond. At the LMC Spring Leadership Assembly words of encouragement and wisdom were shared with congregations to go and do because God has prepared ALL to share, listen, and love. Let this short story empower you to work boldly, listen, and meet others. May you become a welcoming congregation and more importantly, a loving and compassionate human being and follower of Jesus. May the Lord bless your time and the works of your hands for His Glory. Let’s get to know and welcome our neighbors.
Lam and his wife, Anita Nguyen, reside in Harrisburg, PA and attend Habecker Mennonite Church in Lancaster, PA. They have been blessed with four children and find that their hands are full with parenting duties. When they are not in Lancaster, PA they are volunteering their time at local congregations in Harrisburg, PA. They have a heart for inter-congregational growth and development and hope to empower the Youth, the future generation of God’s Body.