By Christine Jones
Nepal is not an easy country in which to live and worship Jesus. Less than 5% of the population is Christian and the Hindu and Buddhist religions dominate the cultural landscape. In 2015, a series of devastating earthquakes struck the country. Over 8,900 people were killed, more than 200,000 injured, and over 3 million displaced. This destruction hit Anglicans in the country especially hard. In the areas where the Anglican Church is strongest, 95 – 100% of the villages were destroyed, leaving little protection from aftershocks, extreme monsoon conditions, and the brutally cold Himalayan winter. The Anglican Deanery of Nepal lost 30 of its 58 church buildings! However, three men are faithfully following Jesus, and responding to the needs of their people.
Pastor Daniel has a passion for the poor. He came to the Jagaran slum in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, in 2007 when that slum was only a year old. Nine years later, 40% of the people in Jagaran are Christians. Pastor Daniel’s Anglican church has an attached school and training facilities where tangible hope is spread through the love of Christ.
“Daniel’s warm heart for the poorest of the poor radiated throughout the people I met in the facility,“ remembers ARDF Executive Director Canon Bill Deiss, who visited Daniel last April. “True caring and love for each other was evident everywhere. Daniel’s church has a 3-4 room school for all ages. There is a large room that serves as a community center, they provide food for the students and there is a church room with lots of Scripture verses on the walls. It is a truly holy place in a very poor city.”
Pushkan Shresthra has a passion for prayer. ARDF US Trustee and Executive Director of Coracle, The Rev. Bill Haley, was in Nepal with Canon Deiss, and saw this first hand when he attended a prayer service with Pushkar on the one-year anniversary of the massive earthquake. “This is a praying church, and a fasting church. In fact, all the folks had been fasting in preparation for this specific service,” Haley reports. And yet this prayer and fasting was not only in response to the anniversary. Pushkar and his flock regularly fast and pray for their nation, their church and their non-Christian families. “They pray powerfully, and long, and a lot. It’s the fruit of being a minority,” says Haley.
Meanwhile, The Rev. Rinzi Lama has a passion for evangelism. After planting 50 churches, Lama is the one (along with The Rev. Shyam Nepali) who discerned in 1999 that the Anglican tradition could bring some order to their network of churches. They are now part of the Anglican Diocese of Singapore of the Province of Southeast Asia. This church is evangelistic like no other. Since the 2015 earthquake, the Anglican church has grown from 9,000 to 12,000 people. In November, Archbishop Beach will travel to Nepal with The Rt. Rev. Rennis Ponniah, the Bishop of Singapore, to confirm nearly 400 Nepalis!
When asked what his hope was for the country of Nepal and the church here, Rev. Lama answered both questions with one hope. He said “I hope that the darkness of Nepal will be cleansed by the blood of Christ.”
Would you like to see the global Anglican Communion in action? In February 2017, Rev. Bill Haley, ARDF US Trustee and Executive Director of Coracle, will lead a trip to Nepal.
“While members of the Anglican Church in North America have been so generous with financial support for various projects around the world,” said the Rev. Bill Haley, “we want to provide a way for people to see the Anglican church in action in such a way that those who go have a powerful, even transforming, spiritual experience, something like a ‘mission pilgrimage.’ We’re calling this mission pilgrimage ‘Let Christ move your heart in these mountains.”
Anyone is welcome to join this transformational vision trip. If Nepal sounds intriguing to you, please be in prayer asking God if he is calling you to come along. To learn more about the details of this trip or of any of ARDF’s relationships around the globe, contact Christine Jones, Director of Mobilization at email@example.com or visit the ARDF website: www.ardf.org.
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.” (Psalm 84.5)
Christine Jones is the Director of Mobilization for the Anglican Relief and Development Fund.