This update is from GCI Mission Developer Rod Matthews.
The Himalayan Gospel Church (HGC), GCI’s ministry partner in Nepal, runs the Himalayan Bible School (HiBiS), which recently concluded its 2017 course in Kathmandu. Since mid-February, 11 young men and women (pictured below) from rural Nepal have lived and studied in Kathmandu for three months, completing an intensive course in biblical understanding and Christian ministry. The students were chosen from attendees at village seminars conducted last year in seven locations in the Himalayan foothills by HGC’s Mobile Bible School.
On March 30, Southeast Asian Senior Pastor, Wong Mein Kong, myself and our wives arrived in Kathmandu to meet with HGC Pastor Deben Sam and members of his team. I had also requested that Daniel Zachariah, who serves our north Indian pastorate, based in Hyderabad, join us so Deben could become acquainted with the GCI pastor closest to Nepal geographically.
While in Kathmandu, we visited HiBiS in session and each of us had the opportunity to teach the students (through a translator, see picture at right) and enjoy their enthusiasm for the Scriptures and the gospel message. We also had the opportunity to visit the HGC’s medical clinic at its new location on a busy street where drop-in customers can purchase basic pharmaceuticals. The clinic also has a mobile unit (on the back of a motorcycle!) that takes basic medical services to the very poor on the outskirts of the city several times a week.
During HGC’s weekly worship service (pictured below), Wong Mein Kong and I re-established our connections from the last visit and introduced Danny Zachariah to the congregation before sharing messages with the 70 or so people in attendance.
Nepal is a challenging country in which to work. While most of the population is Hindu in religious heritage, the government consists largely of politicians from a mix of Hindu and Maoist philosophies and they wrestle with conflicting approaches to religion. Many Hindus would like to see anti-conversion laws installed. The Maoists make no commitment to that. So, in one sense, the impasse serves the Christians well for the moment.
Kathmandu still shows signs of the severe earthquake of April 2015 with some rubble still not cleared from certain secondary streets and a few residences here and there, mainly on the outskirts, remain a pile of bricks. At the best of times, building good infrastructure in a mountainous country is an expensive proposition. But it’s a huge challenge in a poor country subject to earthquakes where many people live in isolated, remote valleys, and on the steep sides of the Himalayas, most with their own languages or dialects. That is overlaid by the inefficiencies of a government afflicted with philosophical conflicts and a desire to retain control of everything. But we are privileged that God led us into this partnership of over a decade with a ministry led by Deben Sam who has a passionate heart for the poor and isolated who need to hear the gospel message. As a result, many have heard the Word of God and personally experienced a practical example of what it means to follow in the footsteps of Christ. Deben much appreciates your prayers for him and his team.