Bethel’s Resettlement Ministry began in 2010 with the sponsorship by Grace Circle of a single family. The Bhutanese community we have sponsored and helped settle in Madison includes 19 Bhutanese families as of the summer of 2016. These more than 76 people look much like all Bethel families and include young parents with pre-schoolers, grandparents with adult children and a single mother with sons. In addition, we assist another dozen or more who are friends or family members of the community, even though we did not sponsor them through Lutheran Social Services (LSS). They are all Bhutanese of Nepali origin and predominately Christian.
As a sponsoring church, Bethel helps them learn how to live in this country, connecting them to support systems both within and without the church. We support the Nepali Saturday Night Worship Services and the translating of the 9am Sunday morning services. Most importantly, we are their friends.
Bhutan is north of India and is bordered by India and Tibet. In the mid-1980’s the government launched a policy of “Bhutanization” for the whole country. The traditional dress, language and worship of the southern Bhutanese people were outlawed in favor of the ethnicity of the majority.
Southern Bhutanese suffered human rights violations and loss of land and citizenship, causing thousands to flee their country. Many have lived in refugee camps for nearly 20+ years.
The camps are now being closed by the UN because there is no hope of repatriation. Residents of all UN camps in Nepal have been given the opportunity to be voluntarily resettled in various countries. Bethel continues to welcome these families and invites you to join us in welcoming them.
Lutheran World Relief (LWR) works closely with the United Nations High Commission on Refugees in resettling refugees in many places around the world. Through LWR and Lutheran Social Services (LSS), Bethel became aware of the situation in Bhutan, one of the most grave and protracted refugee situations in the world today. Since 2009, Bethel has helped to relocate some of these refugees and continues a relationship with these families.
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