Church multiplies in Nepal

KATHMANDU, Nepal – The 85 Nepali Christians sitting on the church floor have more than good notes to show for today’s church-planting training.

They already have dozens of new churches sprouting as a result of it.

Today’s training is actually a follow-up to a course held in Kathmandu last September. It’s being led by ReachGlobal missionaries Gene Wilson and Craig Ott, co-authors of Global Church Planting: Biblical Principles and Best Practices for Multiplication (Baker Academic, 2011).

Lessons revolve around biblical foundation for church planting, focusing on the Apostle Paul’s ministry in the book of Acts. From there, Wilson and Ott instruct students on a church-planting process that includes seven “fruitful practices,” tools such as finding prepared people, treating evangelism as a process, and making disciples who reproduce.

That reproduction already has started.

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The fruit of labor

One pastor at the September training taught the “fruitful practices” to his church leaders, including three immigrants from India’s Bihar state. Christians in Bihar have historically faced moreopposition than in most other Indian states. However, equipped with the church-planting training, the three men returned to India and already have formed three Bihari churches. Their Nepali fellowship is preparing to send them back as full-time workers.

“What encourages me the most is when training sticks and reproduces – when you see within six months trainees taking it to their churches and people applying it,” Wilson says. “That’s the thing that’s so remarkable about the training that’s going on in Kathmandu.”

By and large, the people in today’s group of about 85 Nepali Christians have no theological training. That hasn’t stopped almost 40 of them from planting new churches since September. Among today’s attendees:

  • Prohbin, a 15-year-old boy who is the only believer in his Hindu family. When his pastor, David Archaya, taught the principles in their church, Prohbin felt called by God to go back to his town, Chitwan, 200 miles away. He had been baptized only nine weeks earlier, but he had been sharing the gospel — and now he knew how to follow up. He returned to Chitwan, and several neighbors and friends agreed to study the Bible with him to discover who Jesus is. With the help of his church in Kathmandu, he is preparing to start a new community of believers in Chitwan.
  • A Nepali woman who is personnel director on a London-based cruise ship. She has shared the gospel with Filipino and Nepali staff people on the ship and even started a church on it.
  • A Sherpa evangelist who reports that God called him into ministry and healed him from muscular atrophy in his legs so that he could preach the gospel in Himalayan villages. With the training, he now knows how to disciple and plant reproducing churches.

“In the [United] States, when people think of church planting, they think of pastors starting churches,” says Wilson, who has been involved with church planting since the late 1970s. “In the New Testament, what we see is that there’s all kinds of people who start churches – basically what we would call laypeople without a lot of theological training. So we tried to design some simple, non-formal training to mobilize people who have that missionary impulse.

“I think Kathmandu more than anywhere else has demonstrated how God can use and is using laypeople who are gripped with the gospel to not only witness to family and friends, but start new churches.”

From one church to thousands

Nepal today has about 10,000 Christian churches, according to Operation World and other sources. In 1953, there was only one.

Sixty years ago, even as Nepal’s King Birendra reformed the government to include a cabinet system (and eventually a multiparty democracy), he also was forbidding Nepali Christians to gather and foreign Christians from bringing the gospel into the country. After a 10-year civil war ended in 2006, King Gyanendra was deposed when a federal democratic republic was formed in 2008. Though Nepal now has a Marxist president, people enjoy greater freedom of worship and witness than under the old monarchy, Wilson says.

Individual EFCA churches have been partnering in Nepal for several years. In 2011, ReachGlobal received an invitation to help equip church planters and move them out to Nepali communities where people have never heard about Jesus.

“It’s like a great fountain shooting up and watering the land,” one Nepali leader says. “You help us channel it with good Biblical principles for church planting.”

What You Can Do

The next step is to develop Nepali trainers to prepare church planters for the outlying regions. One leader has asked ReachGlobal to go to the cities of Sikkim and Assam because the training was vitally needed there. Wilson responded, “We may be able to but only if you and other Nepali help with the training.”

ReachGlobal is looking for prayer partners and for help supporting the training of Nepali trainers. If you would like to know more write Matt9.38@efca.org

 

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