“And the Lord was adding to their number
day by day those who were being saved.”
Dear Friends & Partners,
Nepal continues to be one of those countries where God is sovereignly and supernaturally building His Kingdom and growing His church at an exponential rate. Informed missiologists quickly point to the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal as one of the spiritual “hot spots” where the Holy Spirit continues to be poured out as on the Day of Pentecost. This supernatural revival has been going on for decades, until recently, without much foreign intervention or manipulation.
OWNERSHIP OR PARTNERSHIP?
After the word began to spread in America and the west about this great spiritual revival that is taking place in Nepal, it became a “mission magnet” that has attracted thousands of foreigners. Sadly, most have not gone in to support the indigenous church and assist the national leaders. Rather, they have gone in to establish their own work in Nepal. They did not go to Nepal to align themselves with what God was doing there – but to re-align the young Nepali church with their own theologies, traditions and denominational distinctions.
In the early days of my travels in Nepal, I strongly sensed that I was experiencing an authentic First Generational Church – just like in the book of Acts. As I often described it to others, the Nepali church had not existed long enough to be “divided by theology” or “bound by tradition.” No one had heard of a Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian or Pentecostal. They were all just the Body of Christ. And, like in the New Testament, they named their churches not after men – but after Biblical names or geographical locations (Aradhana means “worship”; Joti means “joy”, etc).
Does this mean that the young Nepali church was a perfect church? Obviously not. It was no more perfect than the one in the book of Acts – or your own local church! But, was God doing a unique work there through the Holy Spirit and under the Headship of Christ? Absolutely!
In those days, there was an incredible pristine purity and spiritual unity that only a sovereign Holy Spirit could create! And much of this purity and power was the result of the fires of persecution that the Nepali church had experienced since its supernatural inception. There were few leaders or even ordinary Christians who were not in some way persecuted for their faith.
Because Nepal was the world’s only “Hindu Kingdom” at the time, all other religions were illegal. As a result, the Constitution of Nepal mandated the following:
And yet, the church grew exponentially day-by-day and week-by-week – and continues to grow to this day and hour. Sadly, the “fires of persecution” are once again heating-up against Christians in Nepal. In spite of the declaration by the new Constitution that Nepal is a “Secular State” rather than a “Hindu Kingdom,” new opposition is growing as a result of the revival of Hindu Fundamentalism. Just recently, eight Christian leaders were arrested and jailed for public preaching. Even though they have now been released – this is evidence of a revival of opposition in the face of the explosive church growth that is taking place.
Exhorting new believers before their public baptism.
AN AVALANCHE OF FOREIGNERS…
While we rejoice in the baptism of new believers, much of the original pristine purity and power has now been lost as a result of the well-intentioned and well-financed intervention by foreigners – mostly from America and Korea. That’s because far too many of these western Christians went there with the attitude of “teaching the Nepali church” – rather than “learning from the Nepali church.” They went with the mentality of “ownership” rather than “partnership.”
So in the last couple of decades, the invasion of foreign missionaries has been like the Judaizers who followed the Apostle Paul. They arrived in Nepal with their “circumcision knives” in hand and their “denominational flags” flying. They came to put their theological “brand” on the nascent church! In the process, a lot of spiritual cattle rustling has been taking place! Another sad result is the unhealthy dependency on foreign dollars that has been created among many Nepali pastors.
It has been our privilege to be deeply involved in Nepal since 1989. And as always, we went in the spirit of partnership, in response to the invitation of the indigenous church and her leaders. From the very beginning of our involvement, we worked as a close partner with the National Churches Fellowship of Nepal (NCFN). It is the oldest and largest fellowship of indigenous pastors and leaders in the country – now with over 1,000 member churches.
We have also been in close fellowship and partnership with Pastor Hanok Tamang, senior pastor of the Aradhana Church, one of the oldest and largest in the Kathmandu Valley. (Helping expand their building was one of our earliest projects in Nepal). Pastor Hanok was the President of NCFN for nine years, serving longer than any other President. He continues to be a part of their Advisory Board.
Pastor Hanok shares at a recent training
seminar for some of his key church leaders.
While Hanok continues to pastor the Aradhana Church, he has a growing apostolic ministry all over Nepal, as well as among the Nepali Diaspora in other countries. He is constantly sought as a speaker for special church events, to baptize new believers, to ordain new pastors and leaders and to inaugurate new projects.
Hanok preached at the 20th anniversary service for the
Agape Baptist Church of Chitwan. The service was
followed by the ordination of 6 pastors, 7 elders
and 11 deacons and deaconesses.
In addition to his other roles, Pastor Hanok has spearheaded the majority of the relief and development work that we have helped with since the devastating earthquakes in April and May of 2015. Because of the quick and generous giving of our American partners, we have been able to deliver tons of aid, and build scores of temporary homes. Currently, we are focused on rebuilding churches that were damaged in the earthquakes. (Please click here to view previous reports).
To help in transporting aid workers from Aradhana out to the field quickly, we assisted in the purchase of a number of motorcycles for Pastor Hanok’s volunteers.
Motorcycles to advance the work and speed the Gospel!
These two brother-builders, Bhairam & Joshua, headed up the construction of all
of the Agape Metal Homes we built, and are now spearheading the rebuilding
of key churches that were destroyed. They are very thankful to our partners
for providing the new motorcycles for their work.
Through recent timely government regulations, all buildings have to be built with a new safer, earthquake-proof design. Our mutual friend, Michael Orsillo, has helped Hanok in this area. He is an architect who has made many trips to Nepal across the years to help build churches, homes and water projects for the needy. He has designed a new church model from stones or cement blocks that is much safer than the older traditional buildings. Because of the style and building materials, there will be far fewer deaths or injuries from future earthquakes. Each of these churches average between $3,000 - $5,000. The cost depends on the location of the church, and the amount that the local people are able to contribute toward the building project. The following pictures are of churches that are now in progress…
Pastor Italal Chepang and his family outside the old Ghattekhula Church
built in the traditional way using stone. This church is a 5 to 6 hour hike
from the closest road!
A happy pastor with his newly rebuilt church.
Pastor Omkar Ghalan and his wire stand in front of the
newly built Khahare Bijay Church, which will hold 400
people Nepali-style, seated on the floor. This church
was rebuilt through our ministry partners in Hong Kong -
some of whom will attend the dedication of the church
The newly completed Titre Church, built with the new
earthquake-proof style that will help in avoiding
future deaths and injuries.
Pastors Hanok & Caleb at the ground-breaking for the Tinpiple Church, a
larger church under construction by the brother-builders, Bhairam & Joshua.
This church is in their home village, where no church has ever existed before!
SPIRITUAL & PHYSICAL WATER…
Because the Aradhana Church is a center for so much holistic ministry, there was a need to dig a new well there for drinking, bathing and toilets. I thought you would like to see their method of digging a well by hand. Each of these wells cost an average of $1,000 - $2,000, depending on location.
After the well was dug, the young people of the church carried out the mud.
Pastor Hanok then tested the water for drinking and bathing.
A NEW HEIR…
Before transitioning from Hanok, I want to share his good news with you, that he is now “Grandfather Hanok.” His adopted son, Simon, and daughter-in-law, Osin, recently gave him a grandson, Simon Peter. This grandson is a special blessing to Hanok since he lost his own son, Suman, a few years ago.
Simon Peter sleeps peacefully with his Grandfather Hanok, and with his mom, Osin.
THE MIRACLE CONTINUES…
As I close this first report on Partnerships in Nepal, I want you to be blessed by this update on Bikram and Aruna Chapang. As many of you will recall from one of my earlier reports, Bikram was almost killed in the earthquake (please click here to read their story). He spent 3 days and nights buried under the church roof and walls that collapsed on him. The pastor who was pinned near him died after surviving a day or so under the rubble. Finally Bikram was rescued, but lost his left arm that had been crushed under the debris.
Because of the support of our partners, we first bought Bikram a motor scooter so his wife could drive him to school to complete the dual degrees he is now working on – one secular and one in theology. Now we are in the process of building them a home.
First of all, we had to help them buy a small piece of land where they could build a house near their Chepang village. This was a dream come true for them since they never imagined owning a piece of land with their own house.
Bikram & Aruna at the small one-room shack
where they have been living.
Pastor Hanok joined them for the dedication of the land before the building started.
Bikram & Aruna are joyfully anticipating moving into
their new home very soon - thanks to your love,
prayers, and generous giving!
A FINAL OPPORTUNITY…
The Dhading district is an area where the earthquakes were especially devastating. Hundreds – including many Christians – lost their lives as their homes were destroyed. The local believers have sacrificially given to build their church back – larger than ever. When completed, it will hold 1,000 people. But they need $5,600 to complete the large roof. We hope that God will move one of our partner churches or business entrepreneurs in America to help them complete this roof where Christians will worship for years to come.
This local pastor is trusting God for the funding to complete a church
for his congregation in the Dhading District.
Since I have run out of room – and you are out of time, my next report will update you on two more of our strategic partners in Nepal, Pastor Gyan Sunawar, and Sangge Sherpa. Until then, know how much Patt and I appreciate all that you help us make possible in countries like Nepal. Your prayers and financial support have helped us to be on the “cutting edge” of what God has been sovereignly and supernaturally doing in Nepal for decades!
For His Kingdom in the Kingdom of Nepal,
JL & Patt
PS: If you have not already received a copy, please let us send you a FREE copy of a booklet about the growth of the church in Nepal titled: "Nepal: What God is Doing At The Top Of The World" by Pastor Hanok. You will be edified and inspired as you learn more about what God’s Spirit is doing in Nepal to build and expand His church.