Hostel for Seeking Souls joins IAFR

We are very excited to share some long overdue news with you all today. 

Just over 1 year ago, Bethany Ringdal and Jason Lukis joined forces to explore a dream of a three-part ministry: a Christian community of faith, asylum seeker housing, and a mission-driven business, focused around a mission to share God’s radical hospitality among global neighbors. 

We spent the first 9 months in an exploration phase—building relationships and understanding the lay of the land of work with asylum seekers in our community. Over the summer it became clear that we were ready to move from exploration to action, starting with the asylum seeker housing part of the work. 

At the beginning of our exploration, we had thought we would have to build a ministry like this from scratch, but we were wrong. God had already planted ministry partners for us—a locally deployed team from the ecumenical non-profit International Association for Refugees working on their Jonathan House ministry, which currently houses and holistically supports nine asylum seekers in two houses in St. Paul.

As the name suggests, the International Association for Refugees operates internationally along the refugee highway with contextualized expressions of their mission to help people survive and recover from forced displacement. IAFR’s values include collaboration, long-term relationships, and partnerships with both refugee and host-country churches. As we got to know each other, God revealed a beautiful resonance between our mission and theirs. 

We originally considered a programmatic partnership, but eventually God’s guidance led us instead to join the Twin Cities IAFR team as locally deployed missionaries. The arrangement reflects our shared value of reciprocity: IAFR is supporting the next steps towards the Hostel for Seeking Souls’ vision, and the two of us have come on board to support and expand the ministry of Jonathan House. Our developing roles will be split between these two overlapping ministries. Jason is taking on the role of Church Engagement and Development Lead, and Bethany is continuing her work under the titles of Ministry Networker and Pastoral Lead.

 
 

As is quite common for missionaries, we are responsible for raising our own salaries. We invite you to consider how God is speaking to you as you hear about this unfolding work. Do you sense an invitation to support what God is doing through us? If so, you can support us through IAFR’s webpage or below through our individual donation portals.

 

Bethany Ringdal
Ministry Networker and
Pastoral Lead

Rev. Jason Lukis
Church Engagement and
Development Lead

Finally, since God has gracefully interwoven our work with that of IAFR Jonathan House, we ask that you would prayerfully consider supporting the Jonathan House Give MN campaign. We have an ambitious goal for this campaign – to fully support the two existing Jonathan House sites and begin building towards a third site in connection with Hostel for Seeking Souls. More information on this campaign is coming just around the corner.

Book Group Invitation

My heart is sick.

You’ve probably heard by now about the cold-blooded murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police. A confession: the first time this news came across my screen, my scarcity-trained mind responded “I am too busy working on immigration justice to have time to think about police violence.” The impulse to look away and go on with my day was strong.
That’s the way that the powers that be want it. But God is working on me, healing me bit by bit from the broken racial patterns of our culture. Here’s the thing: the soul sickness that allowed the murder of George Floyd is the same soul sickness that is leading ICE to allow immigrants to die of COVID in packed detention centers, the same soul sickness that is deporting migrant youth in the middle of the night without telling their families, and the same soul sickness that has seized the moment of this pandemic to close our borders even to the most desperate asylum cases.
At the Hostel for Seeking Souls, we believe that God is in the business of healing and liberation, for those suffering these harms and those in whose names they are being committed. We believe that God is in the business of healing and liberating us together.
There are four opportunities to lean into that healing coming up. Read on for information about a book conversation, a Bible study, a webinar, and a protest.

Bible Study with Bethany Ringdal

I have had several people lately ask me to lead a Bible study for Bible beginners and the spiritually curious, and want to extend this invitation to the Hostel for Seeking Souls community. We will be meeting by Zoom on Wednesday nights from 7:30-9:00, starting on June 3. The format will be discussion based and open-ended, with no required homework (although I may send optional readings for those who want to gain more context). I’m really into Jesus, but I promise no hard sell. Click below if you’re interested in joining this group, and please feel free to share with anyone you know who may be interested. RSVP for Book Study

Book Group – Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen

The Saint Paul Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Justice, of which the Hostel for Seeking Souls is a member, is forming interfaith groups to read and discuss Dear America, Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas.  The Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist tackles one of the defining issues of our time: what it means to be undocumented, to not have a home, to live always in hiding, in fear of being found, to have your family torn apart and sent away.  One discussion has already been held under the leadership of Mt. Zion.  It was a wonderful gathering of a number of Saint Paul congregations, and we’d love to do it again.Saint Paul Reformation will host a book discussion group on Sunday, June 14 at 2:00 pm.  Please RSVP at timiversonghm@gmail.com and you will be sent a ZOOM link and study questions for the group gathering.  For more information and if you would like a copy of the book, contact Sandy and Tim Iverson at 651-238-7724. RSVP for Book Group

Honk-in for COVID-19 Release

Join us for a honk in at Governor Walz’s Mansion to demand the release of prisoners, amongst the most vulnerable to COVID-19. Months into this pandemic our loved ones are still not being given the basic right to social distance – which requires the release of 2,500 people.

Wisconsin has released 1600 prisoners in on technical violators – Minnesota almost none. Yet our Governor wrote an editorial in Time Magazine saying that we shouldn’t have such people in prison). You say you care about immigrants yet hundreds remain in ICE detention. Governor: practice what you preach! #FreeOurPeople #FreeThemAll

Bethany will be there, and would be very happy to see you.

This Saturday, June 6 from 1-3. Details here.

Webinar – Becoming the Body of Christ Where All Bodies are Valued

Here is a recording of a webinar hosted by leaders in our denomination (including the presiding Bishop) last week about the ELCA’s resolution condemning white supremacy. Our denomination is the whitest in the country, despite three decades of statements. We have a lot of work to do to live into God’s multicultural dream of a just community. Watch the Recording.

May the God of the wilderness give you a spirit of boldness and good courage as you walk this way. May your heart be full and well. May you find goodness in community and give goodness to community. May you live in resurrection, with the whole earth and all its peoples, now and forever. Amen.

It’s Mother’s Day for immigrants too.

Photo by Mauricio Artieda on Unsplash

Tomorrow is my first Mother’s Day since my son was born last year. They told me becoming a parent would change everything, and they were right.

One of the big changes for me: now, when I hear stories of parents making impossible choices to find safety for their kids, I can’t look away.

Holding my newborn son, God worked a change in my heart. Stories that before had seemed to me like tragic, faraway stories came home to land. What if I had to choose for my child between the danger of home and the danger of the refugee highway? What if I were forced to leave my babe to flee, or to send him away to seek his own safety? What if someone took my baby away from me because I had crossed a border?

I do not have to make those choices, face those realities, but migrant mothers are living with them every day.

This week, we’re praying God’s blessings for them. We’re asking God to make a change in our hearts and in the world until every mother and babe can live safely.

I hope you’ll make prayer for migrant mothers a part of your celebration this week

We are praying this Sunday, May 10, at 12:30 pm, and you are invited.

Click this link to join.

In the Spirit,
Bethany Ringdal

P.S. We’re at the end of our 4 weeks of pre-scheduled prayer time, and we’re wondering what time/day would work best for our community. Let me know what times work for you! 

Pandemic Prayer Time

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
-Romans 12:12

The problems of this scary time seem so big—too big for any of us to hold on our own. We have been especially concerned for our global family of migrants and refugees. For some perspective, you can read about how the pandemic is affecting people along the refugee highway here.

We invite you to an online gathering for prayer and encouragement. We’ll call on God for whatever needs you bring (so bring your needs!), with a special focus on migrant and refugee situations both in the U.S. and around the world. We believe that God sees and hears our struggle and that prayer is a gift to us who pray and to those we pray for. We hope you’ll join us to share in this gift.

When: This Sunday, April 5 at 12:30. If we get a good response, we’ll do it again soon.

How:  Follow this link at meeting time. You can join by computer, smartphone app, or by calling in with the info below. If you’ve never used Zoom before, you will be prompted to download the program or app.

Who: You and other praying people networked with the Hostel for Seeking Souls. Feel free to invite others you think would be interested.

How to prepare: Take a moment to think about the prayers you would like to bring. There will be opportunities to pray out loud or to have others pray for your concerns, if that would bless you. If you can find a candle, get ready to light it at the beginning of our gathering to remind us of God’s presence with each of us.

Learnings, Needs & Assets

Pastor Jason Lukis and Mission Explorer Bethany Ringdal spent time in February praying at the border wall in Tijuana.

Dear Friends,

We’re one week into “Oh, this is serious” about this virus, and already I’m wishing for something else to think about. (It is serious. Please be safe. But still.) I’ve gotten e-mails from every organization I’ve ever connected with (the eye doctor from two towns ago?!?) about their COVID-19 response. YEESH.

I’m here to tell you: there are other things happening in the world. God is still at work. I want to give you a brief update on the Hostel for Seeking Souls project and ask for your continued prayers. 7 months in, we’re still busy learning and exploring. 

a few things we’ve learned so far

  • There is a real hunger for a multicultural community of faith that teaches the spiritual practice of holy friendship across cultures.

  • The specific need of housing for asylum seekers is very real, and the organizations already addressing this need are eager for more partners.

  • The Lutheran community has energy and resources to address the needs of immigrants, but new leadership and connective tissue is required to help bring these resources and needs together.

  • A travel hostel is probably not the right fit–but we’re still  dedicated to the vision of building a mission-driven business to help support the sustainability of this work.

We’ve learned a lot, but God has been nudging us to keep exploring. Questions like where and with whom are still lingering. Our main work right now is to identify a tangible entry point for this vision. 

Here’s a list of what we need to move forward and what we have to offer. Please read this and consider how you might be able to help meet any of these needs.  Do you know an organization or person who can? And who do you know that might be blessed by connecting with the Hostel for Seeking Souls?

Needs of the Hostel for Seeking Souls

  • A neighborhood with a multicultural and immigrant-friendly DNA
  • A host church with immigrant leaders and/or connections
  • Partnerships with organizations and congregations with missional alignment
  • Space, including meeting space, housing space, and retail space (not necessarily in the same physical location)
  • Networks including introductions to immigrant faith leaders and people hungry to build a cross-cultural family of faith
  • Prayers that our immigrant friends would be safe and well and that God’s will would be done in this work.

Assets of the Hostel for Seeking Souls

  • Our mission including multicultural community, supporting asylum seekers, and evangelism
  • Our learning: as we innovate, we desire to share what we learn
  • Our networks including the ELCA and the asylum support community
  • Our leadership as connective tissue in building multicultural power in solidarity with immigrants.
  • A plan for developing a faithful community of global neighbors learning the spiritual practice of holy friendship.

Let us know: how and where might God be paving a way for these needs be met? 

Grace and peace to you in Christ Jesus,
Bethany Ringdal and Pr. Jason Lukis

Spread the Word

When a hearts aches over another person’s pain, it is a miracle; heart ache is one way that God connects us and makes healing possible. In the Twin Cities, hearts are aching over our country’s broken immigration system and how our government is treating global neighbors in crisis. What is God building out of this heart ache?

In August 2019, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) churchwide assembly voted to become a sanctuary church body, publicly declaring that “walking alongside immigrants and refugees is a matter of faith.” Before this declaration was made, the Holy Spirit had already been stirring a vision in the Twin Cities for a new ministry called Hostel for Seeking Souls, with a mission to share God’s radical hospitality among global neighbors. In September, the church gathered its prayers, energy and resources around the possibility of this mission, and approved a mission exploration: a six-month period of prayer, networking, research and discernment to wonder what miracle of connection and healing God might be building out of this heartache and how we as the church are being called to join.

Here’s the dream: one mission of sharing God’s radical hospitality among global neighbors lived out in three organizational expressions: a local community of faith sharing space with a short-term housing ministry for asylum seekers and a mission-driven business.  Our dream is to cultivate a mutually enriching and multi-cultural community of established Minnesotans and new-comers gathered by Jesus, finding healing and freedom together. We invite you to join us in listening to the Spirit’s leadership and asking whether and how God will make a ministry in this shape possible.

We are beginning to gather a community of loving people to ask God: What might our holy heartache lead us to do? Stay up to date by joining our mailing list. If this vision enlivens your heart, please reach out! We’d love to take you out for coffee. If you believe this vision might enliven someone else’s heart we encourage you share this message with a friend.

Contact mission explorer Bethany Ringdal at b.ringdal@gmail.com or 612-361-7073.

Mission Update

It has been a number of months since my last email update. To those of you who are recent additions to this email list, thank you for your interest and support of the Hostel for Seeking Souls ministry exploration. As some of you are aware, my wife Danae and I have had our hands full recently, welcoming a new member into our family (Cedar Holden Lukis). While I was blessed to be able to take 6 weeks of parental leave at the end of this summer, the Grant Application for this New Ministry Exploration continued to progress through the review process. In the first few weeks back in the office since taking parental leave, the Hostel for Seeking Souls project has really stepped up a notch!

It’s Official

In the last month the Hostel for Seeking Souls has now received formal support and approval from the Synod Council, Synod Mission Table, and Churchwide body, meaning that this project is now an official exploration of the ELCA. We have not only received the green light to begin a formal “exploration phase” for this proposed mission development, but we have also received some generous and critical funding from the Minneapolis Area Synod and the Churchwide office for a 6-month period of networking, experimenting, and discerning. While there is certainly no guaranteed future outcome of an exploration like this, we are excited to work toward establishing a test-pilot for this threefold ministry model (Community of Faith / Temporary Asylum Seeker Housing / Travel Hostel) while continuing to build deeper relationships with potential ministry partners. We have been busy beginning to network with other local individuals and organizations who are already active in walking alongside Asylum Seekers. Some of these organizations include the Basilica of Saint Mary’s Immigration Ministry, Twin Cities asylum seeker housing ministries like Johnathon HouseCasa Guadalupana, and Sarah’s Oasis, as well as Lutheran Social Service Minnesota, the MN Asylum Network, and The Advocates for Human Rights who provide free legal aid to Asylum Seekers. From all of the organizations listed above we have continued to hear the clear message that temporary housing for Asylum Seekers is indeed a significant/ongoing unmet need in our community. We receive this as affirmation/confirmation that the Holy Spirit has indeed sent us barking up the right tree. Aside from the official green-light, I am thrilled to share that this “exploration phase” status comes along with a budget equally funded by the Minneapolis Area Synod and ELCA Churchwide organizations. This funding creates the opportunity to bring in a new colleague to lend her perspective and skills to this ministry exploration: the highly qualified and energetic Bethany Ringdal.

Meet Bethany Ringdal

Greetings, fellow travelers! My name is Bethany Ringdal, and I am pleased and privileged to serve alongside Pastor Jason as the brand new Mission Explorer for the Hostel for Seeking Souls. For the next six months, it’s my job to join Jason in wondering what God might be up to in this call to share hospitality with our global neighbors. I’ll be asking lots of questions, praying lots of prayers, and inviting friends old and new to join us in this grand experiment in following Jesus. If I haven’t taken you out for coffee yet, I’d sure like to!

Here are a few handy things to know about me. Jason and I are old friends; we met over 10 years ago, when we were both working at Camp Amnicon (in other words, this isn’t our first adventure together!) I graduated with a Master of Divinity from Luther Seminary, and found studying theology to be one of the greatest joys of my life. I love adventures of every sort: in a canoe, in the kitchen, in the wonders of the human heart, and in the mysteries of God’s Spirit. I like to test the boundaries of what’s currently possible as I hold space for God’s dream for the flourishing of all life. Other than the Hostel, my latest big adventure is becoming the mother to a sweet baby named Sam, with whom I get the chance to test the boundaries of what’s possible (on not very much sleep) every day.

You can reach me at b.ringdal@gmail.com, at 612-361-7073, or connect with me on Facebook

God bless you, you marvelous adventurers you!