This update is from mission developer Rod Matthews. He reports on developments in South Asia.
Nepal: prayer request
Deben Sam, our ministry partner in Nepal, wrote me recently with news of grave concern to Christian churches and missionaries working in Nepal. Here is his prayer request:
Some staff members of TEACH ministries and two Christian principals in two private schools have been recently put in jail in Charikot, being accused of evangelism among the students and the local people. Charikot is the district headquarters of Dolakha district, where we have one church among the Thami people and one missionary among the Jirel people group. Another sensitive news item is that our Vice-Prime Minister, Kamal Thapa, has also declared to take action against religious conversion without delay and appealed to the Government to take those people in custody who are visiting to convert [people away from] the religion in Nepal. Please pray for Nepal.
As I was about to send out this request, I received from Deben the following update:
I would like to update you regarding the recent news that the government in Nepal is trying to prohibit the teaching of the Bible to the children in orphanages. The government officials have visited yesterday to inquire in different orphanages in the Chitwan district. They have found Bibles and Christian activities in the orphanages operated by the pastors and missionaries and they have warned pastors and caregivers to stop teaching the Bible to the children any more. If any Christian activity is repeated again in the orphanages, then they will take action. We need strongly your prayer and support. Please continue to pray for Nepal.
In reply, I assured Deben of our love and concern, expressed in our prayers for the work of the gospel in Nepal, especially for those who are striving to provide a biblically-founded education and physical home for children who have lost their parents or who are unable to be cared for by their parent(s). We also include the work Deben and the Himalayan Gospel Church is contributing as part of Christ’s ministry in Kathmandu and in rural villages across Nepal.
Senior Pastor for north India, Dan Zachariah, reports that May 28 and 29 were significant days for Grace Communion Church as the first regional conference was held in Andheri, Mumbai. About 30 members from north India gathered for two days of learning and fellowship (see picture below). Mumbai was where the Church had its inception in India in the 1970s. It grew to about 60 members fellowshipping every week. The conference was reminiscent of those days for many senior members.
The theme for the conference was The Vicarious Humanity of Jesus Christ. The first two conference presentations addressed how Jesus became the perfect Mediator between divinity and humanity in his flesh, the death of Christ and how the penal substitutionary concept falls short of the reality of the Trinitarian participation in Christ’s death on our behalf. The last session addressed Jesus’ bodily resurrection and ascension, noting that he became the Savior of the world, not just of a small elect.
Benny Mathews, our ministry leader in Mumbai and Bertram Azavedo, trustee of the church, helped organize the conference. Members from Hyderabad formed a choir and led in praise and worship. The senior Sunday School children from Hyderabad provided special numbers to enhance the worship. Long-time members, Mrs. Chand Singh from Ranchi and Om Prakash Kadyan from Delhi, were also able to attend. It was also a time of good fellowship for longtime SEP alumni from the church meeting after several years.
India: training of counselors
Grace Communion Church in Hyderabad partnered with Person to Person Institute for Christian Counselling to provide training for 14 counselors in Hyderabad and from other states. The training was held in the GCC Church premises from May 17 to 24. Pastor Dan, along with other facilitators, served as faculty. The subjects addressed included Christian ethics for counselors and Christian theories for counselling practice. The photo below shows one of the classes in session.