Brian Stiller

Podcastor

Author

Global Ambassador @ WEA

Brian Stiller

Podcastor

Author

Global Ambassador @ WEA

Post Articles

Nepal

The 7.8 Richter scale earthquake in Nepal had been forecast, but like, as most calamities, unexpected. It was a Saturday morning, the day of rest for Nepalese. Gratefully school children weren’t in there, often, dilapidated and non-earthquake resistant shelters, so countless lives were saved. Unhappily churches were, mostly finishing up their service, just minutes before noon. I stood on one heap of rubble, the remains of The Sukot Prayer House. Of the 120 worshipers, 30 lost their lives, including Pastor Hima Sherpa.

Katmandu, as we learned, was less affected than first thought. Villages to the west, east and north, and farms and villages hidden in mountain passes were severely hit. As we drove north to the Tibet border, village after village was decimated, people sitting outside, fearing another after shock or new quake. Ten minutes after our plane lifted from the Katmandu airport, Istanbul, another quake of 7.3 magnitudes shook the nation.

Nepal a land-locked country, with a population almost of Canada (30 million) has a mystique narrated by the magnificent and death defying Mt Everest. But to know Nepal, is to go beyond its picture-card image.

For centuries a Hindu monarchy, Christianity and other religions were banned. Any public expression was forbidden. The king’s word was final. In 1950 seven families claimed Christian faith. By 1960 100 believers were counted.

But during this time a few factors were at play, providing for preparedness when the king would relent and allow Christians their place. Gurkha soldiers, known for their prowess, were recruited by the British army. As they travelled within British military movements, some came to faith in Christ. And on their return, did instinctively what the Gospel impels us to do – give public witness, share one’s experience, teach the Bible and build places of fellowship.

Added to them were Nepalese who, like Filipinos, serve in many countries. Personalities given to accommodation and service, they were recruited. Again, like the Gurkha, some came to faith and on their return did the same: witnessing to families, collecting people together for worship, studying the Bible and finding ways to serve the social and educational needs of their own people.

Thus when the king in 1990 allowed for a modest amount of public faith confession, there was already percolating living cells of worship and witness, and in time the number of Christians exploded from the 100 in 1960 to 1.4 million today.

I wondered what attracted many to faith. Two factors stood out. A professor put it this way: when your child is dying of a disease and the closest medical clinic is a day and half—one way—travel, and you have nothing at hand to help except the witch doctor, and that costs money, what does one do?

Taking the Scriptures literally – when you are sick call for the elders of the church, anoint with oil and the prayer of faith will save the sick – they prayed. Imagine, he continued, when the villager saw your child, yesterday at the point of death and today running in the streets, what would they chose to believe? Believing the Word, Christians take seriously God’s provision, creating remarkable appeal and subsequent conversions.

I wasn’t prepared for the second means of bringing Nepalese to Christ. Far from our rationalistic West and removed from our sense of social and psychological needs, for them the demonic is real, alive and at times controlling. Within a faith-culure with many gods, the worshipping of many has for those I inquired, allowed the forces of darkness to attach to people, wrecking havoc in their inner and interpersonal lives. Like in healing, when a person, believed by others to be influenced by the demonic is set free, that faith is taken seriously, and given that their religious world allows for other gods, there is a openness to “taste and see “ which in time leads to the conversions of communities.

Here in the shadows of mountains, is a people with an eye to Christ. The church, young and enthusiastic with a strong desire for witness has passion to see the Gospel move its way across the valleys and mountains. Schools are springing up, both for children, youth and Bible training. Competition between leaders plays into this people as in any country I visit. But faith is fresh and alive. It hasn’t had time to bog down in years of tradition, enclaves of ego or forms deemed sacrosanct.

While outside organizations were quickly on hand to provide for service, care, food medical and social needs, they are enablers. The church is today led by their own people, one of the most strategic rules in building a strong national Christian witness: indigenous leadership.

Pray for this people, its church and leadership. Let’s continue in following their reconstruction, even after news leaves front pages or lead stories. And let’s be generous in assisting those at the front edge of leading a growing church into strength, both to serve it owns people, and as a centre of mission, reaching out to it neighbors in its Asian world.

Brian C Stiller
Global Ambassador
The World Evangelical Alliance
May 2015