I will never forget my visits to Nepal to undertake week long leadership intensives with leaders who were highly motivated to grow and impact their nation. On a number of occasions I realised that I was the one being taught as I listened to the stories of these men and women who had chosen to deny themselves and take up their crosses to follow their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Let them be your teacher as you read these lessons from the lives of men and women who deeply impacted me during my visits to Nepal.
From just a single secret Christian residing in Nepal in 1951, the number of Nepali Christians grew to 40,000 baptised believers by 1990. Recent reports claim that there may be 3 million Christians in Nepal (10%) with Nepal even being the fastest growing Christian population in the world.
LESSON 1 : INSECURE TIMES ARE TIMES OF GREAT OPPORTUNITIES
In my last visit, I became aware that the country was going through a time of great change and uncertainty. In a local paper I read, “It is hard to be optimistic in these gloomy times. Kathmandu Valley is smothered under piles of garbage, rumours are rife about 20 hour daily lode-shedding (electricity cuts), taps have long gone dry, transportation strikes are the norm, and more alarmingly, the state of insecurity is worsening by the day……Nepalis are understandingly insecure…..People want to belong to something, some bigger entity that they can identify with.”
There is 40% unemployment. Yet it is in these times of insecurity that the expansion of the gospel was flourishing. The country is delicately balanced and the Maoist (communist) rebels now share power with the government. In my last trip, the Maoists had shut the country down and travelling on roads was prohibited.
Lesson 2 : PERSECUTION AND HARDSHIP
Many pastors I talked to had experienced much persecution and hardship from their families after becoming Christians. One pastor shared with me how at the age of 14 he began walking 12 kilometres to his nearest church to hear about Jesus Christ. Following his conversion at the same age, he was told to leave home. He found a place to sleep in a factory where he found employment.
Nepali pastors are not afraid to pay a great price for their calling and are often introduced to a life of hardship from a young age. One pastor shared with me how he walked 3 hours from his village to a marketplace to locate a phone. His wife who was about to have a baby needed to walk to the village a few weeks later in preparation for the birth of her baby to be near medical facilities.
Another pastor walked for two days to attend my training course and was prepared to sleep on the floor of the meeting room if necessary. I was stirred by the pastor who had grown a church of 400 people with 8 daughter churches. He lives in a small 3 room cement home. His daughters sleep in the kitchen. This pastor lives in a town of 50.000 people with 200 churches in the area. Church members go out on regular mission trips to areas that have never heard the gospel.
Lesson 3 : CHURCH PLANTING
Church planting is a way of life for pastors in Nepal. Some pastors told me of the way they walk through jungles to remote villages to preach the gospel and plant churches. One pastor who had just graduated from Bible college and started a door to door evangelism program shared his goals with me:
- To plant 100 churches in every corner of Nepal in 15 years.
- To organise 10 pastor’s conferences.
- To send 20 missionaries to unreached areas of Nepal.
- To conduct 10 short term discipleship training programs in village churches to train local leaders.
- To add another 50 orphan children to his orphanages.
- To reach one million unreached people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So important is church planting in the training of pastors, that each student pastor has to plant 3 new churches before they are permitted to graduate.
Lesson 4 : DISCIPLESHIP TRAINING
The baptism of new Christians is a significant moment in the life of baptismal candidates from a number of Nepali churches. For at their baptism they need to give assent to the following questions.
- Are you willing to be expelled from your home and community because of your faith in Jesus Christ?
- Are you willing to give up your family inheritance because of your faith in Jesus Christ?
- Are you willing to give up your job because of your faith in Jesus Christ?
- Are you willing to be persecuted and sent to prison because of your faith in Jesus Christ?
- Are you willing to pay tithes and offerings to honour God regularly?
- Are you willing to go back to your village to preach the gospel?
- Are you willing to die for Jesus Christ?
If a baptismal candidate agrees to these questions, then they are asked –
- Do you willingly give consent to be baptised?
Lesson 5 : FAITH INSPIRED MINISTRIES
Pastors have few resources and learn to live by faith in a great God. Consequently, they soon get to see what God can do with His resources as they follow the prompts of the Holy Spirit.
Lesson 6 : SPIRITUAL AWARENESS
Nepal is a country where people are very much aware of a spiritual world. Power encounters and spiritual warfare is a normal part of the lives of Nepali Christians. Prayer and fasting are high priorities. One pastor shared how his church has a prayer meeting from 4.30 am to 6.00 am each morning. He confessed that he only attends these meetings 6 days a week. Prayer walking of unreached villages by prayer teams occurs prior to evangelistic outreaches.
Lesson 7 : UNITY
There is a strong bond of unity between churches with less of a reference to denominations. Churches are united around an overriding vision of reaching Nepal for Christ.
My trips to Nepal were always deeply impacting on my life. They were times when I came away having learnt more from the lives of those leaders than I could impart to them. May these lessons I have shared, stir you to go to greater heights in your life and service for Jesus Christ.