God's Reign in the Former Kingdom of Nepal
June 23, 2016
Natural disasters, epic political conflict and disunity in churches might have paralyzed Christian outreach in Nepal over the past year – but indigenous missionaries tell how the Holy Spirit was not stopped.
Powerful earthquakes on April 25 and May 12 last year brought the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal – formerly the Kingdom of Nepal – to a standstill, and then a dispute over a new constitution led to a blockade at the border with India that cut the flow of items critical for everyday living such as food, fuel and medical supplies. Gas shortages reduced Christian ministries' ability to bring aid to outlying areas even as most people reverted to a daily existence reminiscent of the Stone Age.
The crises united churches and the people of Nepal as they worked together to survive, but longstanding divisions afflicted some congregations. Indigenous missionaries were crucial in helping to overcome the dissension. During the middle of the border blockade in January, an indigenous ministry's team of evangelists that traveled to Udayapur District had the opportunity not only to share the gospel but to help heal a divided church.
"I found that there was no unity among the believers; some were in false doctrine," the ministry director said. "Then these believers saw our ministry and how God is working through us."
Through aid, prayer and preaching, the indigenous ministry modeled the teaching and works of Christ for the congregation, and word spread to local churches.
"Three different churches came together and invited me to preach and do ministry for them," the ministry leader said. "In four days, God's healing work took place. Many believers were healed in their heart. Many received deliverance from evil spirits, and they had reconciliation with each other and came into unity."
"After watching us for seven days, a powerful Tibetan monk said, 'I'm going to give my life to Jesus.'"
The director gave thanks for the prayers of Christian Aid Mission and its supporters for what became a "big blessing" for the area.
"As God gave us a gift, we do many healing prayers," he said. "Through this ministry, many come to the Lord. Many people received healing through us. This time four people received Jesus Christ.'
Christian workers native to Nepal had the local cultural knowledge and connections to reach such people during the crises. As Nepal adopted a new constitution last September institutionalizing its transformation from a Hindu monarchy to a secular democracy, the border blockade developed when lowland, ethnic Madhesi minority groups protested low representation in government and parliament by slowing transit along the border with India.
"During these times, because of political instability, it was not so easy to go out for outreach, but we tried our best to go out in small groups to share His love for the sinners," the director said. "We kept sharing the good news and did some film shows, though not as we much as before."
Madhesi leaders re-opened trading towns in early February, but indigenous missionaries said the effects of the blockade are lingering in many areas, and the border is still not fully open. Fuel, electricity, food, medicines and firewood in many areas are either in scarce supply or too expensive for most Nepalese.
With assistance from Christian Aid Mission, the ministry is able to meet travel and other skyrocketing costs. A women's conference in March saw participants from various villages and churches.
"Many were very much blessed, and miracles took place – physical healings, deliverance from evil spirits, and spiritual revival," the director said.
After last year's earthquakes, the rainy season also limited the distances the ministry team could travel to proclaim Christ. Lack of stable roads further hindered efforts.
"Therefore, besides church activities, we spent most of our time in prayer and worship and praying for sick people," he said. "In our village there is no health post or clinic. Most of the people depend on shamans when they become sick. Of course we are not shamans, but priests of His kingdom. God works through us in people's lives."
Shortly after the first earthquake struck, churches worked together as they never have before, another indigenous missionary said.
"All Christians came together, gave everything they had and tried to help the country to heal," he said. "They united. Our brothers and sisters came together to help, and the Nepalese as a whole came together – high caste, low caste, all came out to the streets and helped each other."
The Christian community gained esteem in the eyes of a wary government and impressed people of other faiths. The ministry director noted how an influential Buddhist monk observed as Christians helped rebuild his community for a week after the first earthquake reduced the neighborhood to rubble.
"As a powerful Tibetan monk with 1,000 disciples, his word was law," the director said. "He was watching us for seven days continually as Christians became salt and light to the community. After watching us for seven days, he said, 'I'm going to give my life to Jesus.'"
Previously the Buddhist leader never allowed the indigenous missionaries to preach there.
"His monastery colleagues and others did not help him after the earthquake," the director said. "He said, 'Where are the 330 million gods of Hinduism? Where are the Buddhists?"
The monk put his trust in Christ, as did his family and many others, and became the leader of a congregation, the director said. His two sons were recently baptized, and his daughter has become a Bible teacher for area children.
His Buddhist colleagues now oppose and dislike him, falsely accusing him of being paid to convert. Undaunted, the former monk says he wants to go to remote areas on Nepal's border with Tibet, where water is scarce and there are no roads, to proclaim Christ.
"He says, 'I want to go where no churches are,'" the director said. "We have come across many other people thankful for our help. Even in hostile areas, many people were touched. When they saw our love and service, people were amazed – they saw the life of Christ."
To help indigenous missionaries to meet needs, you may contribute online using the form below, or call (434) 977-5650. If you prefer to mail your gift, please mail to Christian Aid Mission, P.O. Box 9037, Charlottesville, VA 22906. Please use Gift Code: 702DIS. Thank you!