John Dommati and Victor Rampogu
Mayeken Kehr
Wednesday, July 2, 2008

SOUDERTON, Pa. (Mennonite Mission Network/Eastern District Conference) — Victor L. Rampogu’s mission field is not in a distant country—his ministry starts at the local 7-Eleven in Souderton, Pa.

“The Great Commission, ‘Go ye into the world and make disciples of all nations,’ has changed,” said Rampogu. “You don’t have to go all over the world—the world is around you now.”

Rampogu, a third-generation Mennonite Brethren pastor, established United Christian Church International, in partnership with Zion Mennonite Church of Souderton and Eastern District Conference. Together, they work to share the light of Christ with an evolving local community.

“As Mennonites we believe in mission,” said Hunter Hess, lead pastor at Zion. “We are sent to go forth and call people into relationship with Christ and participation with the body, the church.”

Hess said some evangelists advised Rampogu to distance himself from the Mennonite faith; Rampogu refused.

“Victor holds strong to his Mennonite background and wants to stay deeply connected to the Mennonite church,” said Hess.

Every Saturday night, Rampogu—with his wife, Esther, or other members of his congregation—visits grocery stores, gas stations and mini-marts to meet and establish relationships with business owners. Many of them are Hindus and Muslims from India.

After UCCI members build trust, they share the gospel. Rampogu’s goal is to get one new non-Christian immigrant family to attend church each month.

Rampogu stresses the importance of building cross-cultural relationships when sharing the salvation story, citing Christ as the example.

“When [Christ] went to the Samaritan woman and talked to her, he crossed boundaries. When he talked to the woman who was involved in adultery, he crossed boundaries. When he went to the Pharisees he would try a different approach.”

Rampogu recognizes and chooses to cross the boundaries present within North American society; perhaps it is this attentiveness in Rampogu’s approach that is so effective.

“You should know who you are talking to,” said Rampogu. “You should know their culture, their faith and their background so that you can know not only what they want, but also what they need.”

Dean Heisey, Mennonite Mission Network’s networking and partnership coach, is helping Rampogu connect with other North American Asian Indian leaders associated with Mennonite Church USA.

Heisey said that he appreciates Rampogu’s ministry because of its relational focus.

“Everybody runs into people,” Heisey continued. “[Rampogu and his congregation] have just stopped and given thought to how to be intentional about it. … It’s so simple, but has potentially profound impact.”

Over the past two years, Rampogu and fellow congregants have visited 156 immigrant-owned businesses, distributed 921 Bibles in five different languages and shared Christ with more than 1,108 individuals.

One individual has converted to Christianity from Hinduism and eight individuals have made commitments to Christ. According to Rampogu, the eight individuals are completely willing to accept Christ, but status in the country or family and religious ties prevent them from coming out openly.

While conversion is the desired result, Rampogu emphasized that personal transformation has to be genuine. He is not interested in developing “rice Christians,” a term used in India to designate individuals who accept Christ in response to gifts of money or food. Rampogu tells visitors they must learn God’s word before baptism.  

“You never do baptisms like that, you never rush them,” he said.

Rampogu has witnessed and catalyzed many true transformations.

Before Zion Mennonite Church commissioned Rampogu, and before he established UCCI in October 2006, Rampogu worked at a 7-Eleven. He recalled one particular evening when he found himself at gunpoint.

“I was so scared and I didn’t know what to do, but I had to give [the burglar] the money … so I said, ‘I’ll give you the money, and I won’t even call the cops,’” Rampogu said. “I opened the cash register and prayed for a second, ‘Lord, help me now.’”

Rampogu handed over the contents of the cash register while sharing his faith story with the burglar. Later, he informed his manager of the theft, but kept his promise and refused to call police.

The next week the robber—touched by Rampogu’s story and impressed by his faithful promise—returned with all but $25, which he had used on drugs.

Rampogu still keeps in contact with this man who now has a steady job, has stopped taking drugs, and has become a dedicated follower of Christ.

Rampogu said that mission work is not limited to other countries—believers have plenty of opportunity to witness in this country.

“People are hungry for the truth,” said Rampogu. “There are trained Mennonite pastors and ministers in this country from India and other countries--use them! Use their services to reach out to non-Christians.”

 

 

 Related articles

 

 

Jonah and Memee Yang contextualize the gospel in the Hmong cultureSoutheast Asiahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5095/Jonah-and-Memee-Yang-contextualize-the-gospel-in-the-Hmong-cultureJonah and Memee Yang contextualize the gospel in the Hmong cultureGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Bekah York invites Mission Network supporters to give to new ministriesSupport new ministries!https://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5091/Bekah-York-invites-Mission-Network-supporters-to-give-to-new-ministriesBekah York invites Mission Network supporters to give to new ministriesGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
MTAL celebrates 20 years of faith and resilience20th Anniversaryhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5083/MTAL-celebrates-20-yearsMTAL celebrates 20 years of faith and resilienceGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Three decades of transformation in Mongolian mission workMongolia updatehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5085/Three-decades-of-transformation-in-Mongolian-mission-workThree decades of transformation in Mongolian mission workGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Mission worker used comforter-making to knot God’s people togetherObituaryhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5082/Mission-worker-used-comforter-making-to-knot-God’s-people-togetherMission worker used comforter-making to knot God’s people togetherGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
MC USA files new amicus brief in support of Apache-StrongholdApache-Strongholdhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5076/MC-USA-files-new-amicus-brief-in-support-of-Apache-StrongholdMC USA files new amicus brief in support of Apache-StrongholdGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Oak Flat
Mission Network announces 2024 Anti-Racism Grant awardsNewshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5073/2024-Anti-Racism-Grant-awardsMission Network announces 2024 Anti-Racism Grant awardsGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Finding fresh hope at PSMC conferenceChurch plantinghttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5071/Finding-fresh-hopeFinding fresh hope at PSMC conferenceGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Albuquerque Service Adventure shared a southwest blend of faith and friendship for 25 yearsService Adventurehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5072/Albuquerque-Service-Adventure-shared-faith-and-communityAlbuquerque Service Adventure shared a southwest blend of faith and friendship for 25 yearsGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476New Mexico
Ecuador Partnership's journey of collaboration and renewalInternational Servicehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5067/Ecuador-Partnership-journeyEcuador Partnership's journey of collaboration and renewalGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
How can I be a peace witness in time of war?Peace witnesshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4681/How-can-I-be-a-peace-witness-in-time-of-warHow can I be a peace witness in time of war?GP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Ana Alicia Hinojosa assumes role as Senior Executive for Ventures at Mennonite Mission NetworkPress Releasehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5069/Ana-Alicia-Hinojosa-assumes-role-as-Senior-Executive-for-VenturesAna Alicia Hinojosa assumes role as Senior Executive for Ventures at Mennonite Mission NetworkGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Mennonites unite in Ecuador’s peace journeyPeacebuildinghttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5066/Mennonites-unite-in-Ecuador’s-peace-journeyMennonites unite in Ecuador’s peace journeyGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Quito
Peer mediators gain self-esteem while working for community peacePeace camphttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5062/Peer-mediators-gain-self-esteem-while-working-for-community-peacePeer mediators gain self-esteem while working for community peaceGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Cape Town
Lois Buckwalter discerned a new way of doing mission among the Toba-Qom peopleObituaryhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5059/Lois-Buckwalter-discerned-a-new-way-of-doing-mission-among-the-Toba-Qom-peopleLois Buckwalter discerned a new way of doing mission among the Toba-Qom peopleGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476

 

 

 Related

 

 

Jonah and Memee Yang contextualize the gospel in the Hmong culturehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5095/Jonah-and-Memee-Yang-contextualize-the-gospel-in-the-Hmong-cultureJonah and Memee Yang contextualize the gospel in the Hmong culture
Bekah York invites Mission Network supporters to give to new ministrieshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5091/Bekah-York-invites-Mission-Network-supporters-to-give-to-new-ministriesBekah York invites Mission Network supporters to give to new ministries
MTAL celebrates 20 years of faith and resiliencehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5083/MTAL-celebrates-20-yearsMTAL celebrates 20 years of faith and resilience
Three decades of transformation in Mongolian mission workhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5085/Three-decades-of-transformation-in-Mongolian-mission-workThree decades of transformation in Mongolian mission work
Mission worker used comforter-making to knot God’s people togetherhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5082/Mission-worker-used-comforter-making-to-knot-God’s-people-togetherMission worker used comforter-making to knot God’s people together
MC USA files new amicus brief in support of Apache-Strongholdhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5076/MC-USA-files-new-amicus-brief-in-support-of-Apache-StrongholdMC USA files new amicus brief in support of Apache-Stronghold



 

 

Here with purpose: Gloria Guadarramahttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5075/Here-with-purpose-Gloria-GuadarramaHere with purpose: Gloria GuadarramaQ&A
Midwives in Chad help to reduce maternal mortalityhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/video/5097/Midwives-in-Chad-help-to-reduce-maternal-mortalityMidwives in Chad help to reduce maternal mortalityMidwives save lives
Meet Ben and Laurel — the new co-directors of the Paris Mennonite Center!https://www.mennonitemission.net/video/5096/Meet-Ben-and-Laurel-the-new-co-directors-of-the-Paris-Mennonite-CenterMeet Ben and Laurel — the new co-directors of the Paris Mennonite Center!Paris
Learning to listen withinhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5093/Learning-to-listen-withinLearning to listen withinMVS reflection
Jonah and Memee Yang contextualize the gospel in the Hmong culturehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5095/Jonah-and-Memee-Yang-contextualize-the-gospel-in-the-Hmong-cultureJonah and Memee Yang contextualize the gospel in the Hmong cultureSoutheast Asia
Ted Gossard reflects on recent civil rights pilgrimagehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5094/Ted-Gossard-reflects-on-recent-Civil-Rights-movement-JPPTed Gossard reflects on recent civil rights pilgrimageJust Peace Pilgrimage