Connecting with Nepal

The Setting

Over the last three years, the church that Paige and I are apart of has entered into the conversation of global missions. The bulk of this conversation has been within the context of an organization called BILD International that provides leadership training and church planting resources worldwide. Their domestic City Church Network, is an intra-state network of churches focusing on training leaders and planting churches here in the United States while partnering with an international church to spread the gospel to an entire country. Our church, Noble City, has entered into discussion with and has sent key leaders to encourage and understand the mission that is unfolding in Nepal.

This has been an ongoing conversation. While Paige and I have not been directly involved in the ministering to the Nepalese people, it is our hope to travel to Nepal to see the work that is being done there. This desire is always heightened during the month of November as we have either traveled to the BILD International conference that takes place in Ames, Iowa and/or have been visited by the Nepalese country leader, Harka, who is responsible for the training of leaders and networking of Nepalese churches.

Conditions in Nepal during Flooding

Harka

As you can see from the photo, Harka may be short in stature, but he has a warm heart and an encouraging personality. It is always a pleasure to be in his company when he comes to visit or we attend the conference. He quietly observes everything and then slowly responds, thinking through his words. Harka has a strong grasp of the English language and world affairs, as most international, high-networkers do. You could place him in any situation, amongst any kind of people, and both parties would depart from each others’ company with a friend for life.

Last week, Harka spent six days with our church in York, Pennsylvania. It was our pleasure to host him for a dinner one evening, inviting some our friends to the conversation that centered around the work being done.

Harka, Paige, and myself from November 2016.

The Mission

Over the course of the evening, our conversation ranged from world affairs to what was going on in each other’s lives. As we were not able to attend the international conference this year, and our time together was limited, we were most interested to discuss how the gospel was progressing and what the pressing needs were. Work is, as is often, slow progress and the needs are many. I will share with you the most interesting and relevant work that is being done.

Printing Materials

Harka and team have set up a small print on demand shop. Think Kinkos in Nepal. They can take in work from those who require printing and use the gains to offset the costs of printing materials for the gospel and training to go forward. However, the demand for training materials outpaces the funds quite considerably. There is a need to print a thousand copies of fourteen booklets – the First Principles series – each cost about a dollar to make. These materials have been translated into one of eight Nepali languages (there are 127 altogether) and are ready to be printed. Each series of books represent great training to an individual leader, multiple leaders, or many congregants who belong to a church.

The First Principles series sets up the gospel and the ways of Christ, teaching its readers in a similar manner to how the first church and early church did in the book of Acts. To learn more about this series, click here. The books Harka is printing is a direct translation of the English materials. Paige and I have worked through many of the books with our church context.

I will say that the materials are not the only training resource these leaders receive. Harka is the leader of the network that is training pastors, whom go out and train other faithful men. There is much diligence to the work that is being done to make sure Christ’s doctrine is taught soundly and guarded faithfully to be used correctly. Harka’s participation in the BILD network offers guidance and training as well.

Printed books for training.

Radio Broadcasting

This is perhaps the need that I have heard Harka speak about least – it may also be the newest project he is working on. There is an opportunity for a radio station to be set up in one of the many cities in Nepal. The project is inexpensive, costing only $8,000, and would allow for the network to reach one million people. Airtime would be split between educational broadcasts that build up the community in common sense ways, Christian broadcasting of the gospel, and time sold to other programs. The messaging would be closely regulated for healthy content.

Farming

Paige has been having an ongoing conversation with Harka about farming, public health, and nutrition. It was clear Harka was eager to talk about the agrarian needs of his community. Less network building or large broadcasting, a farm in a semi-urban context would offer much to the local church and community Harka leads in. Jobs, relationships, opportunity to share the gospel, food for sustenance, food for income, and community working for a common goal are just some of the good that would come from a farm.

The major obstacle is funding and access to land. Land is quite expensive and much of it is being developed as Nepal is a small but growing country. In Nepal, land is measured in bighas. One bigha is 1.67 acres, and costs between $20,000 and $30,000 in a city like Damak. A high price for a church in a country where salaries are often counted in the single or tens of dollars a month.

But the reward would far outweigh the cost. Harka was excited to speak about the purpose it would give many people as it provided jobs and hopes – not of self-fulfillment, but survival. Their current progress towards the goal of saving for land is perhaps 30% and does not include tools, materials, and other supplies that would be needed to start a functioning farm.

The Struggle

I want to take a moment to mention the challenges facing Nepal. An anti-conversion law was just formally passed by the government last week. It is now illegal and punishable to evangelize and to convert a Nepalese person. These acts carry a five-year prison sentence and up to a $500 fine. This law hinders the expansion of the gospel by causing fear amongst those in the Nepalese church and to those who would be ministered to. Harka says there is constant fear of when the church is meeting in his home and it is becoming hard to evangelize in public. Read this article published in Christianity Today for more information.

Parting Words

There is much work to be done in Nepal. There is also much to be done here at home. The first step is to build up and train godly men and women who can perpetuate the mission. This is accomplished through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the work of faithful leaders, and access to inexpensive, quality resources that set up belief in Christ and adherence to sound doctrine. Then we can look out to our neighborhoods, region, and the globe.

However, we must strive to have a conversation in both a local and global context at all times. By doing so we reap the rewards of encouragement, shared insight, resource, service to one another, weeping together, and brotherly affection that characterize Christ’s Church.

It is my hope that this incomplete and sporadic brief on the mission in Nepal sheds some light on the work that is taking place there. It is also my hope that if you have made it this far and are not a Christian, you would please reach out to talk about the fullness of life that should be apparent from the loving works being conducted from one people to another. Finally, if you would like to give to the mission in Nepal, please send me an email – sethnenstiel@gmail.com – or visit give.noblecitychurch.org and select the Nepal Partnership. Your gift is tax deductible as it is stewarded by a 501c3 non-profit.