Meet our Missions – Asian Indian Ministry-Chicago (Bethesda AIMS)
By: Rev. Shadrach Katari, Missionary
Twenty years ago in this winter season, the Asian Indian Ministry (AIM) was started by Bethesda Lutheran Church, Chicago, IL, with the blessing of Bishop David Ritt and with the support of the English District LCMS. A small core group was started to proclaim the Gospel to both Christians and non-Christians of India on the north side of Chicago. We proceeded with multiple programs and projects to build up this ministry – to identify the needs of Asian Indians who come to the USA as immigrants, especially new immigrants.
Social Activities: In the beginning of this ministry, with the help of the core group and other supporters, we helped the new immigrants to find food, temporary shelters and helped them to find jobs, whether they were Christians or Hindus or Muslims. We built a good relationship with the people and invited them to attend our Sunday worship which is in our own language, Telugu.
Small Bible Groups: While we are helping, we are giving them Gospel tracts and New Testaments and preach the Gospel. We invite them to the small Bible studies at their neighborhood homes. Many people show up at home gatherings to spend time with us. Occasionally, we meet at homes for birthday celebrations and home functions and other general activities, like picnics and sports and games.
Gospel Meetings and Concerts: We also took things a step further by inviting people for Gospel meetings and concerts on a larger scale to preach the Gospel to non-Christians. Three times a year, in the summer and fall, we conduct these meetings at Bethesda or in other Chicago suburbs. Many people come and receive blessings, and we pray for healing for the sick and needy.
Sunday Worship: Every Sunday, our worship is in the Telugu language – and sometimes in English – at 6:30 p.m. at Bethesda in Chicago. Members from all over Chicago and the suburbs come to attend and to worship the Lord with us. Many times, we see new immigrants come as visitors and receive blessings. Most of our members are scattered all over the Chicago area because of their jobs. Now we have more than 100 members and visitors that attend Sunday worship and small Bible study groups.
Evangelism: We strongly believe evangelism is a very important aspect in our ministry to reach the non-believers. A group of our church members has taken this task seriously, and goes to grocery stores and fast-food restaurants to find Indian workers, giving them Gospel tracts and talking with them in person. When on the street doing our evangelical work, we face big opposition from the Hindu fundamental groups and Muslim extremists. But the Word of God is powerful and we do not back down from the evangelical work.
We are so grateful to our present Bishop, Rev. Hardy and Mission Executive, Rev. Mathers, for their help and support. Our hope is to grow together with the Bethesda English congregation and be co-leaders with the church.
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If you have a mission or ministry story you’d like to share, please submit for consideration via email to Lynne at firstname.lastname@example.org.