Made possible by connections through LCMS Pastor Solomon Yadessa and the North Texas Multi-ethnic Ministry, St. Paul Lutheran in Fort Worth is engaging in Gospel-centered relationships with Ethiopian immigrant families from the Anyuak ethnic group.
For the past year, St. Paul members, elders, and pastors have been connecting regularly with the Anyuak people through worship, mentoring, and getting to know one another by sharing life together. Worship occurs within the homes of the Anyuak community and also includes their regular participation in St. Paul Sunday worship.
St. Paul representative Sandi Grupe meets weekly with the Anyuak women and children assisting with their English language deficits, spending time in God’s Word and building Christ-centered relationships. St. Paul Executive Director, Chris Rodgers, and wife, Elisabeth, Elder Isaac Lujang, a Sudanese immigrant and EIIT enrollee, and others from St. Paul engage with the families regularly.
From her weekly work within their community, Sandi Grupe reports on the depth of the Anyuak hunger and thirst for God’s Word and their sincerely thankful hearts. She stated, “They crave anything that has to do with the Bible. It’s a joy to see their eyes light up when we spend time in the Word. Those moments allow for unique opportunities to enter their lives in amazing ways.” Literacy and the ability to learn the English language is a major goal. Recently, one of the Anyuak women experienced a moment of sincere joy when she was able to read a portion of an Arch Children’s Bible Story Book. She exclaimed, “Sandi isn’t it wonderful that I can now read the Bible!”
Their departure and journey from Ethiopia, that included many years in Sudanese refugee camps enroot to their new life in a new and foreign world in Fort Worth, has been troubled and challenging. Families were separated for years on end and in the midst of it all, their faith and love for Jesus prospered. The strength of their faith is inspiring.
One of the Anyuak community leaders, Ogal Odom, cherishes connection and relationship with God’s people. He was detained in Ethiopia for more than five years separated from his family enduring significant hardship. He is deeply thankful for God’s faithfulness in his life. Chris Rodgers says, “When Ogal hugs you he doesn’t let go and it is deeply moving. His love for Jesus is energizing and contagious.”
Several Anyuak families recently participated in St. Paul’s new member orientation and are now fully engaged members.
We give God thanks for the Anyuak people. We are learning from them and growing in our faith through them. We give thanks to God for his faithfulness and for the power of the Gospel to change lives through the hands of ordinary people!