Zion’s Sunday Afternoon
2:00 PM Worship Service
On Sunday, February 26th of this year, a new worship service at Zion was launched. The goal: the creation of a worship time and a worshipping community for those of Sudanese heritage in the Oshkosh area. Seven people attended that first service. Since then the service has had as many as 60 in attendance. The average is about 30. I preach in English and we follow Zion’s order of worship. There is singing and there is dancing. Songs and prayers are offered in English, Dinka, and Arabic. There are more children than adults in worship!
Zion’s Sunday afternoon service begins at 2 pm and ends at 3 pm, with Fellowship time following. Everyone is welcome. The worship service serves a growing community of families with a combined total of almost 100 people.
A few weeks ago, I was in Omaha Nebraska for a leadership conference of LCMC -Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ. In Omaha, I visited a cousin of a family that attends the Sunday afternoon service. What an amazing family! The single Mom works full time as a cleaning lady, and has five kids of her own. Two other families entrusted children of theirs to her before she came to the US. She is raising ten children! They fled their own country, South Sudan in the midst of a bloody war, and were granted asylum and refugee status by our government in the US two years ago. They went first to Rockford IL before going to Omaha.
In a small apartment with a minimum of furniture in a pretty shabby neighborhood, I immediately noticed academic awards framed on the walls of the living room. The oldest boy, a 10th grader, was not present because he is already a basketball star, away for a game in Lincoln NE.
We shared high and lows, prayed together, and blessed one another..
Rebecca is the Mom’s name. What is her prayer? “Father John, we want to move to Oshkosh.”
The Sudanese community in Oshkosh is bound to grow because Oshkosh has a strong Sudanese community already. The families support one another, pray together, and worship together. In Oshkosh we have excellent schools, great hospitals, a minimum of crime, and responsive local government. Try to find that in Chicago, Rockford, or Omaha.
While in Omaha I met a Lutheran pastor who is dean of Trinity Lutheran Seminary of the Lutheran Church of South Sudan (LCSS). Trinity Lutheran College and Trinity Lutheran Seminary of the LCSS are not located in South Sudan (it is too dangerous), but in Gambella, Ethiopia.
The dean of the seminary invited me to go to Ethiopia this summer, during the month of July, and teach an intensive course of Hebrew to the school’s Bachelor of Theology students. I am so excited!
Keep me in your prayers as I seek to support the mission and growth of the LCSS, a sister church body of our church body, the LCMC. Oshkosh to Gambella and back again. I will be teaching and preaching and partnering in ministry with Sudanese believers in both places. God has a plan and it is our task to lean into it.
John Hobbins, Pastor of Youth and Family Ministries