A once-struggling Christian Reformed ministry that works with Southeast Asian people in Minnesota is moving forward again with a new vision, new hope, and a new name.
Once focused on the Lao people in New Brighton, Minn., and called New Life Lao Church, the ministry has widened its net to also include the Karen people from Burma and the Hmong people from Vietnam. With this new focus comes a broader name: New Life Church.
Ministry associate Phonh Sinbondit, who formerly served as Asian ministry consultant with Christian Reformed Home Missions, began the work in 2003 based at Faith Christian Reformed Church in New Brighton.
Over time the work became difficult as strained relationships, past grievances, poor communication, and budget problems caused deep division. Eventually only a handful of families remained.
But a Lao woman jumpstarted the congregation by inviting two Karen women from her workplace. Those women in turn brought more people to church. The congregation now totals about 50 people when it meets in Faith’s sanctuary for worship on Sunday afternoons.
“The ministry we are doing is a different kind of ministry because we are focusing on community development,” Sinbondit said.
New Life is one of two Christian Reformed ministries to Southeast Asian people in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. The other is North Central Lao church in Brooklyn Park.
Financial support for New Life comes from Home Missions, Classis Lake Superior, and Faith CRC.