Over the past two-and-a-half years, ten Lutheran congregations in Tulsa, Oklahoma, have combined forces to reach out and serve the growing Hmong, Latino, Liberian and Burmese populations.
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church has taken the lead in outreach by offering worship services in English, Hmong, and Spanish, with an additional service for Liberians conducted in English. It has been heartening to see the 10 additional congregations take part and to witness the emerging initiatives led by each congregation.
“We work toward ways to help people assimilate. The goal is not that everybody becomes the same, but to help everybody achieve their dreams and their goals,” shares Pastor Len Busch of Good Shepherd.
The overarching vision is to bring together people of all cultures and viewpoints to learn from one another — cultural synthesis.
Many of the immigrants are not making much money when they first arrive. The Christmas Angel Trees provide a loving way for parishioners to respond to the direct needs of their fellow community members. It is remarkable to see the sense of wonderment when the recipients of the gifts understand that someone would show them kindness and generosity without the hope of gaining something in return.
Literacy is another widespread problem among many of the immigrant populations. Although the children learn English primarily through their school, the parents often lag behind and are not able to support their children very well. This is a great way for congregations to walk alongside of refugees and assist families by providing mentoring and language training.
The congregations involved include: Christ the Redeemer, Good Shepherd, Grace, and Our Savior in Tulsa, King of Kings in Glenpool, Lord of Life in Bixby, Immanuel and Trinity in Broken Arrow, Redeemer in Claremore, and Shepherd of the Hills in Skiatook.
* Photo credit: Suzanne Watt – Director of Christian Education and Youth Ministry, Christ the Redeemer Lutheran Church