Nebraska's Fremont Nazarene Church congregation recently celebrated diversity in their community through an event called “Coming to America — Our Stories.” The event featured nine speakers from nine different countries sharing their stories of coming to the U.S., including why they came and what they are doing in their communities now.
The 4 March event raised money for an upcoming mission trip to Papua New Guinea. The speakers represented Sweden, China, Laos, Poland, Thailand, Jamaica, Germany, the Philippines, and Mexico. All speakers are either part of the church, members of the community, or close friends of Fremont Nazarene Church members.
Church member Carry Gerke came up with the idea last fall while brainstorming ways to fund an upcoming mission trip.
“[Carry] wanted to find a way to support the team of five we have going to Papua New Guinea for 10 days this fall,” said Aaron Horton, Fremont lead pastor. “[She] believed it would be a great way to show how much people from other countries make such a positive contribution to our community.”
The church chose to send their team to Papua New Guinea in part because of a decade-long relationship.
“One of the reasons we chose Papua New Guinea is because we have a group of men and women who have been making bandages for our Nazarene hospital in Kudjip for about 10 years,” Horton said. “They faithfully gather every week and work hard preparing their materials to get them shipped.”
The church believes that sharing the stories of those in their community from around the world will encourage them as they go and serve the people of Papua New Guinea in a more direct way.
“We believe in the power of stories,” Horton said. “When [people] share how they came to America, about their joys, their hardships, their journeys, we do believe that barriers will come down and help us grow closer as a community ... We recognize that all are made in the image of God and every human has value. These stories help us to see the common humanity below the surface of our nationalities.”
The church had no set goal for the fundraiser but hoped it would get their church members excited about what is happening in the Nazarene church, both near and far.
“We believe in being a part of a global church, and our church and our community have a chance to make a life-changing impact on someone on the other side of the globe just like we do with our friends next door,” Horton said. “What a powerful thought and a reminder of a God who cannot be made to fit into a box ... Sometimes it’s easy to get stuck inside our walls and miss the community around us or to focus only on our needs locally and miss the calling we have to love the whole world.”
To watch a recording of the event, click here.