Transforming a party into missionBy Virgil Vogt
CHICAGO — On a recent Saturday evening, my wife, Joan, and I found ourselves in the home of Naresh and Manju Daniel in Sugar Grove, Ill., one of Chicago’s far western suburbs.
We were there to celebrate the birthday of their 9-year-old daughter, Natasha.
Naresh and Manju are among the leaders of Asian Mennonite Community Church, an emerging congregation in the Chicago area.
About 50 or 60 people were present, all of them from India except for Art and Evelyn McPhee of Elkhart, Ind., and Joan and me. Many of the women wore saris; much of the conversation was in Hindi. When it was time to
eat, we were served large trays of delicious Indian curry, steaming rice, Indian bread and tea.
Having grown up in India, I was enjoying it all.
We quickly learned this was going to be a different kind of birthday party. After a time of lively conversation, before food was served, Pastor J.P. Masih presented a biblical message, followed by prayer. Because some present were not Christian, the possibility of accepting Christ as Savior was mentioned in the message and the prayers.
Only after this worship service, which included several Hindi songs, were we ready to move on to the food and birthday cake.
Celebrating a birthday had been turned into an opportunity for evangelism.
A Saturday night party of this sort happens every few weeks in the homes of those who make up Asian Mennonite Community Church. They see these events as one of their best means for reaching out to the Chicago Indian community. The specific reason for the celebrations vary.
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