Who Is My Neighbor?

By Deb Muenstermann, Hub 450 Manager

Who is my neighbor? If you are part of an LMC congregation in Lancaster County, the answer to this question is different than you might expect. Most people think of the Amish or persons of Pennsylvania Dutch descent when thinking of Lancaster County. It may come as a surprise that the nations are our neighbors in Lancaster! 

Lancaster has been nicknamed the “Refugee Capital of America” as there are more refugees settled here per capita than in any other US city. It is not uncommon to see women in hijabs at the supermarket, Swahili speakers at the bank, and Nepali neighbors walking down the street. The nations are at our doorstep, and it is a great time of opportunity for the church to be a blessing and be blessed by the nations!

Traditionally, missions looked like going overseas with a passport and visa, to reach different cultures with the love of Jesus. The true definition of a missionary is one who crosses cultures to share the Gospel. Now an airplane journey is no longer needed to reach the nations; the nations have come to us. We only need to cross the street to find unreached people groups among us.

Artisans from the Women’s Global Village displaying hand-made crafts. Photo provided by the author.

At Hub 450, a community center owned by Eastern Mennonite Missions, we are devoted to welcoming the nations in the heart of Lancaster city, a place for the Church to connect and share the love of Jesus with the nations among us. Many members of LMC congregations have caught the vision and have launched creative initiatives to welcome the foreigners among us. These missionaries give of their hearts, time, and resources to provide afterschool tutoring, driver’s education, citizenship tutoring, English classes, and prayer nights for the nations.

Chad Forry, a member of Willow Street Mennonite Church and a high school driver’s education teacher by trade, felt God prompt him to offer driver’s education classes to new immigrants at Hub 450. His first class of 15 had 10 newly arrived Afghans. What began as a formal class soon ended with friendship as Chad and his family hosted students for meals in their home. Chad said he realized that his students were longing for more than a class but desired fellowship and connection. Chad plans to continue to offer these classes on an ongoing basis.

Beth Manyara, from Stumptown Mennonite and a reading specialist by trade, had a long-time dream to provide extra literacy assistance to refugee youth. Through her job with refugees over the years in Lancaster city, she saw many students struggle with homework and basic reading skills. Beth approached Hub 450 with a dream to assist Swahili-speaking youth with academic tutoring. This is how the CORE tutoring program was birthed. Now twice a week, students, many of whom grew up in refugee camps in Tanzania, are matched with tutors who can mentor them and provide academic support with the love of Christ.

Chad and Beth represent many others who have also used the gifts that God has placed in their hands to be a blessing to the nations. What is in your hands? How can your heart, gifts, and passions be used to share the love of Christ with our new neighbors from the nations? You too have an opportunity to be mobilized for missions at Hub 450. We would love to explore with you how you might get involved in crossing cultures locally to share the Gospel. Contact deb@hub450.org or visit our website: www.hub450.org to get involved.

Deb (Horst) Muenstermann serves as a local missionary under EMM in the role of Hub 450 manager. Deb previously served with her family overseas in South Africa where they pioneered the ministry “Justice Creates” (www.justcreate.space) Deb, her husband Ralph, and two children attend Witmer Heights Mennonite and are planting a “fresh expression” of church in their home.

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