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Nepal update

This update is from Rod Matthews, GCI mission director in Southern Asia, New Zealand and the Pacific.

Deben and Manju Sam

We are privileged to walk together in the ministry of Jesus Christ with the Himalayan Gospel Church based in Kathmandu, Nepal. Led by Deben Sam with his wife Manju, this church is a growing network of about 20 congregations. On March 24, Rick Shallenberger and Danny Richardson from Cincinnati, USA, Mohan Jayasekera from Perth, Australia, and my wife Ruth and I joined them in worship as part of our visit to strengthen our on-going relationship and discuss how we might further assist in the work of the gospel in Nepal in the year ahead.

Deben’s main congregation of about 70 people meets in a rented building once used as a carpet factory. We were led in worship by Pastor Joseph. The main message was given by Mohan in English, translated into Nepali by the pastor, one of only a few in the group who is bilingual. A group of very competent young people provided the music for our worship in song. We were impressed to see members arriving with bags of various vegetables and fruits from their gardens, which they put on a table at the front of the hall to be distributed amongst the poorer and needy members who have no land to utilize.

About two years ago, Deben leased some farmland on the outskirts of Kathmandu to grow vegetables and small crops to provide for the poor of his congregation and to generate income for the church. Several of the poorer member families live on site, working the fields. The farm is producing well. Deben tapped the expertise of his brother (who is studying agriculture) to educate the farmers through classes and manual labor. Under Deben’s leadership, the farm has become very profitable by breeding pigs and fish.

In Nepal there are vast numbers of very poor people – many work in slave-labor conditions in brickyards around Kathmandu, in quarrying gravel from river beds, or in other low-paying tasks such as sweeping streets. Deben and his wife have hearts of compassion for the poor and a deep concern for their circumstances and needs. With help from their extended family, they look after 14 orphans in their home in Kathmandu. These young girls and boys, who come mainly from rural areas, now have a secure future of Christian love, education and development.

Several years ago, some of Deben’s church members who worked in a brickyard were prevented from attending church when the brickyard owner penalized them for being Christian and required them to work seven days a week. This prompted Deben to propose that, together, we demonstrate the love of God in a very practical way by opening a medical clinic near many of the brickyards to offer free health care to the poor with particular emphasis on the needs of small children and nursing mothers.

The pharmacist and Raju, Deben’s brother-in-law, serving at the clinic

None can afford medical care or medicines provided by the hospitals in the city; so the clinic is open each weekday afternoon with a pharmacist present to dispense free medicine. One afternoon a week a doctor is on duty to deal with more complex issues. This medical service is in much demand and Deben has proposed that we consider extending the operating hours to five full days each week. That means we have to double the hours for which the pharmacist is employed and cover the cost of the additional medicines needed. He does not plan to increase the doctor’s hours at this stage. So we are evaluating this and hope to be able to meet the additional costs so we can give him the go ahead in the near future. To date the Cincinnati congregation in the USA has been generously supporting about 80% of the costs of the clinic on an on-going basis.

Deben’s compassion for his own people, his own rural background and his gift of evangelism, has drawn him to start congregations in some very remote villages. His most recent trip to a village in the far northwest of the country started with an 8-hour bus trip to a regional city, then an hour-long flight in a small plane, culminating in a 4-day walk over a high mountain. How does he interest the people in the gospel message when he gets there? He shows the Jesus film in Nepali. But there is no electricity, so he and his travelling companions carry the projector and a generator on their backs. The people are amazed at the movie and, invariably, some commit their lives to Christ. And so a congregation is born. This is followed up with further communication and biblical educational material to aid them in their journey of discipleship and, if feasible, an annual visit from Deben and his support team during the summer months.

GCI has been involved in funding the translation and printing of our literature in Nepali, the distribution of Nepali Bibles, and the reconstruction work of several rural church buildings and homes after a severe earthquake in eastern Nepal last year. This year, we need to reprint our Nepali translation of Basic Christian Teachings. It is in high demand from pastors of other churches after they learn about it.

As we reported in an earlier issue of Weekly Update, Deben was attacked by a mob a few weeks ago while on an evangelistic mission trip. The mob accused Deben of bringing “cultural and religious pollution” into their society. We offered to help Deben with his medical expenses. He gratefully declined, indicating that he could manage on his own. However he heard that the wife and eldest son of one of his pastors in a remote village in northwest Nepal had been badly injured when lightning struck their home. The local doctor referred them to a distant hospital, which they cannot afford. Deben said he felt a personal responsibility to help. So yesterday we sent Deben some money for that purpose. We also asked Deben to let the family know that hundreds of friends from the Body of Christ around the world are praying for their speedy recovery.

One thought on “Nepal update”

  1. It is fantastic to hear that people in these remote parts of the world are being called into the body of Christ.

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