Use Words When Necessary

Her name is Bipana and every time I see her she wears a bright yellow shirt that matches her personality. She has the kind of smile you can’t ignore.

Bipana is an ethnic Nepali. She is 26 years old and spent the first 20 years of her life in limbo in a refugee camp in Nepal after her family fled Bhutan for racial discrimination.

use words when necessary

The refugee camps didn’t have electricity, the conditions were very cramped and the outbreak of fire was always a concern. Bipana attended a makeshift school within the walls of the camp. As she got older, she became a self-taught beautician.

Life in a refugee camp was very harsh.

Bipana resettled in the United States just one year ago as my neighbor with her toddler daughter and husband and she picked up English easier than most.  Her husband works at a factory 12 hours a day, 6 days a week.

And while she dreams of being a beautician in America one day, she spends her free time knitting beautiful items to help buy diapers and other necessities for her family.

My first day with the refugees was her first day in the new Art Business Class that my friends asked me to help lead. We were drawn to each other –with her willing heart and my need for a translator.

Sometimes you don’t need to speak the same language to be able to understand each other.

When she walks into the room with a bag full of knitted items, she looks for me. We hug and grasp hands. We are connected. We are friends.

Someone asked me why I haven’t told her about Jesus yet.

How could I not share Him with this Buddhist woman?

I was hungry and you fed me.

I was thirsty and you gave me a drink.

I was homeless and you gave me a room.

I was shivering and you gave me clothes.

I was sick and you stopped to visit.

I was in prison and you came to me.

They reply, “Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you? Then the King will say, I’m telling the solemn truth:  Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked and ignored, that was me—you did it to me.” –Matthew 26: 36-40

I’ve spent the last six weeks loving this woman. My friends and I have taught these beautiful refugee women a few things and learned much more. We are helping with their basic needs and with navigating this new culture. We are building relationships.

“There is such an emphasis on church buildings in the United States that we sometimes forget that the Church is the people-not the place where people meet… The church –a group of believers-is God’s ordained place for the discipleship process to take place. God’s Plan A for the redemption of the world is the Church, and He has no Plan B.”” K.P. Yohannan

My new friend may never step inside a church, but that doesn’t mean the Church can’t go to her.

Because we are God’s plan.

We are the Church.

Every week, new refugee women join the Art Business Class and something amazing has happened. Instead of us teaching them, faltering with the language barrier, they teach each other. I’ve watched Bipana countless times show a new woman how to get started.

I hope one day we can talk about what compels me to drive two hours a week to be a part of her life.

But really, I hope that as I follow Jesus, Bipana will follow me and find Him. And then she will teach her friends about Him.

This isn’t just a social gospel –doing tangible things like sharing our wealth with the poor. It’s more. It’s a life-changing Gospel that makes dead people alive. But it’s not one or the other. It’s both.

Sometimes we use words to share the Gospel.

Other times we just live it.


  1. 1

    Meagan says

    Love this and love the quote about how we are the church and there is no plan B. Currently my church is in the beginning stages of a building campaign. Exciting stuff, no doubt. But (and this is what my Pastor has preached since before the plans started coming to fruition), it isn’t the building that makes us a church. We are already a church. We can do ministry without a building. Yes, a building is nice and comfortable. But the biggest fear would be that it would become TOO comfortable – and we would be serving ourselves instead of doing the ministry God has called us to. Thank you for your inspiring blog. I’m a long-time reader but I rarely comment. Looking so forward to May when your book comes out – I’m thinking it will be perfect for a women’s study this summer. Blessings to you.

  2. 3


    I love the work you do. I appreciate so much the time and energy that you give to others. I understand why you do it and also appreciate that you don’t require or expect others to believe the way you do in order to help them. Growing up in the south, I have seen so many people claiming to follow Jesus but not seeing it in their actions. Or not helping others when given the chance because they were not Christian.

    So thank you and bless you.

    I hope it’s okay to share, you are an example of what I recently felt compelled to write about developing ourselves and building community. I am working on a post about giving. You are inspiring me!

  3. 6


    I loved this, Kristen! When I was reading it, another scripture came to mind:
    John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

    This is a great example of this, and a great example to the rest of us :-)

  4. 9

    Rachel says

    For 5 years now, I have been privileged to help lead a church summer camp for refugee high schoolers! It has been interesting with the language and culture, but we love it! I love the girls and the relationships we have! Many of them are from Nepal too. God truly brings the world to us!

  5. 10


    Thanks for this post! It is encouraging, as I also work with an organization that serve to equip refugee women in our area. I love having the opportunity to serve those around me, in my community, bringing the Church to them.

  6. 12

    Pam Livermore says

    I tried logging into the Refuge Project website but received a message saying it was not accessible ?…..I wanted to view and purchase some of the items made by the women. Anyone else have an issue the site selling their items?

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