Experiencing New Horizons in Nepal

March 04, 2013

The guest house where the author (pictured) stayed during her visit

A long-time supporter of Christian Aid Mission traveled to Nepal in February to visit a church and three children´s homes we sponsor in the country. She returned to the United States eager to share her experiences and the joy of seeing lives transformed by the love of Jesus Christ:

While serving as a U.S. diplomat in the Arabian Gulf for ten years, I saw more and more Nepalese come to the region looking for work. I developed a love for these mild, gentle, hardworking people from one of the world´s poorest countries. I became aware that, despite centuries of their country being closed to the gospel, their hearts are open to receive the Good News of the Savior.

In 2010, I retired from foreign service after working in U.S. embassies in 13 countries for over three decades. I have been a supporter of Christian Aid Mission for many years, and now that I have some time, I approached the ministry about an opportunity to see some of the indigenous projects they have helped.

Although I live in Colorado, I had to make one last trip to Abu Dhabi, the capital of United Arab Emirates. From there, it was only a four-hour direct flight to Katmandu in Nepal. Christian Aid arranged for me to meet up with a local worker who plays a key ministry role in Nepal. I spent 12 days in the country in February, meeting with seven different Nepalese groups to see their projects first-hand.

One of the places my guide took me was a village where the pastor has faithfully served the people for more than two decades. When "Pastor Paul" first purchased land to start a farm and a ministry, there were no believers in that community. Today, the church he established is thriving with 200 members!

Pastor Paul told us his conversion came as the result of physical healing of his son 22 years ago and his own healing of a painful infection. As in many churches in Nepal, physical healing and the work of the Holy Spirit are the keys to bringing folks to Christ from the mixture of Buddhism and Hindu beliefs that control so many aspects of their lives. (I discovered that the birthplace of Buddha was at Lumbini in southern Nepal.)

Since Pastor Paul built the church, more than a dozen families have come to live nearby. This rice-growing community is about 11 km off the main road that runs from the capital of Katmandu to the lake resort of Pokhara. Many of the believers walk a day to get to Saturday services, and the church has planted several congregations within three days´ walk of the village. During the last decade of army conflict with Maoists, the village remained a peace zone, developing the respect of both sides with its neutrality and community spirit.

The valley is beautiful, with snow-covered mountains in the background and various shades of green from rice fields. The land supports three rice crops a year, two potato crops and numerous vegetables. Pastor Paul has a water buffalo and hens and he raises many vegetable crops. He and his wife Tsering support themselves almost entirely by farming, with a small stipend from the church.

Tsering works constantly but is always smiling as she cooks, washes, and does farm work. During the meals we shared with Tsering and Pastor Paul, others were often present, testifying to the importance of hospitality in this close-knit village.

The growing community of Christians quickly outgrew the modest mud and brick structure that served as the first church. That building is now used for children´s Sunday school, for housing families in need of temporary shelter, and as a bathroom facility.

Several years ago with the help of Christian Aid donors, the church added a second floor onto its new building in order to have a place to conduct training for its daughter and sister congregations and a third floor to house students attending the training sessions. Members contributed carpets (congregants sit on the floor) and furnishings, and teens contributed musical instruments.

In addition to planting churches in distant villages and supporting its members in every aspect of their lives, this congregation has a vision for children. Two elders were burdened especially for children living in the Himalayan Mountains area to the north. These children live in isolated villages with no schools and little opportunity to get out of grinding poverty and shamanistic Buddhism. They started a hostel where 13 children currently live and attend the local government school, with Christian house parents supervising the home.

The hostel operates on a shoe string budget. It is one of three church-sponsored homes I visited that ministers to mountain children from the Himalayan Mountains area. The purpose of these homes goes beyond providing a way for children to receive an education. They also serve as a vehicle to establish ties with families in these remote areas and to introduce the Gospel to villages with no Christian witness.

Throughout my journey, I was amazed by the spirit of the believers I met. Nepalese monthly incomes average less than $100, barely enough to feed a family. And yet the brothers and sisters I met, coming from traditionally undereducated and underprivileged groups, have a burden for those who don´t know the Savior yet. I pray that the current window of opportunity in Nepal for their outreach will remain open, and that their creative efforts will yield even greater results in a country filled with darkness and superstition.