What's Happening in Nepal   (trip report)

Life is hard for the common people of Nepal. One-third of the population ekes out an existence on less than $1 a day. This contributes to many kinds of evils. Nepal is, for instance, a source for human trafficking on a dreadful scale. Tens of thousands of women from Nepal are forced to work as prostitutes in neighboring India.

This kind of brokenness is why I delight in seeing good work being done by local believers who are helping their neighbors find new life in Christ. The men with me in the photo below are examples. They have established 22 churches and are well on their way toward their goal of 150.

GreaterGraceNepal

These men represent only one of several networks we met on this trip. It appears the Church in Nepal is growing at a blazing pace of 25% a year or more. A new government census published last month confirms that the number of Christians is multiples of the figure in the previous census ten years ago. 

A challenge this presents is how to raise up enough qualified people to lead these new faith communities. Not only are many of the new leaders inexperienced and untrained, but the challenge of the situation is compounded by the fact that most of them are only semi-literate. David C Cook Global Mission helps by providing a library of practical Bible commentaries they can play on their mobile phones. Audio books are common in America, but they are a welcome new innovation here. We are producing recordings of Warren Wiersbe’s commentaries in the Nepali language in cooperation with Trans World Radio, building a model we found successful with the Hindi language in India.

Another of our meetings was with a local group that treks through rural parts of the country sharing the Gospel. So far they have distributed 60,000 of our booklets for outreach and are looking at ways to do even more with our Story of Jesus.  

The small country of Nepal is situated along the Himalayan mountain range, sandwiched between China and India. Two traits are nearly universal among the people: poverty and complex religious obligations. Buddha was born in Nepal.


WS stupa

One of the largest Buddhist worship sites in the world is here. It is the Boudhanath stupa. Stupa literally means heap. The term comes from ancient Buddhist monuments being nothing more than a simple mound of mud or clay covering relics which supposedly have a “store of sacred energy.” Monks purport that this stupa can grant wishes. Prayer here consists of spinning prayer wheels on spindles and displaying prayer flags.  


prayer wheels


There are more than 3,000 temples and worship structures in this land, a mix of Buddhist and Hindu. Buddhist shrines are distinguished by mysterious eyes glaring out from the tops of their buildings in all four directions. These are said to be the eyes of Buddha who sees all.

Buddha Eyes






Religion with heavy obligations is way of life for most people. They dutifully perform extensive rituals. There’s a saying around here that there are as many temples as houses and as many gods as there are people. That may not be far off. With 33 million deities in the Hindu pantheon, that is about the same number as the population of the country.


HinduTemple

I also visited Pashupati Nath which is considered the pinnacle of Hinduism in Nepal. When you arrive at the airport in Kathmandu, there are placards proclaiming that this temple is the most sacred Hindu location in the world. It is doubtful that all Hindus would agree, but it has a rightful claim as one of the oldest Hindu temples dating back to about the year 400. Thousands of devotees from both within and outside the country come to pay homage every day. On special holidays they sacrifice animals. It is auspicious to be cremated here when you die because that, along with the required rituals, is supposed to put an end to the wearying cycles of reincarnation.

cremation

 

A notable feature found throughout the temple compound is a series of pagoda houses that contain the sacred linga, a symbol of the Hindu deity Lord Shiva. It is a stone phallus! Dozens are enshrined throughout the complex along with other idols.


Phallus


 Once the world’s only Hindu Kingdom, Nepal is a secular democracy today. The transition from a “divine” monarchy has been a bumpy path. Civil war flared between 1996 and 2006 and assassinations took the lives of most of the royal family. These people have been through a lot and badly need a new worldview that comes from faith in Jesus.


Nepal likes to be known as the “Top of the World.” Eight of the world’s ten tallest mountains are here including Mount Everest. Living in the shadow of Pikes Peak as I do, I realize that Everest outclasses us. It is twice as high as the Rockies.

The most important characteristic of this land, however, is the move of God taking place. The video clip below is a taste of that. It is a worship song from a young church in Kathmandu.



© Eric Thurman 2015