Building on the Word - Leadership training in Nepal

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They came from all over Kathmandu and from many different rural districts in Nepal. The four participants from North-western Nepal had taken a week to get there – a day of walking and six days traveling by (and waiting between) various buses. The folks from a high mountain region had taken even longer. In all, about 40 people gathered together to share, to listen and to learn. They came to be blessed and to be a blessing.

In January, a CMSI Mission Experience Team Abroad (META) spent two weeks in Nepal. As always, the priority was to deepen relationships and strengthen links, but the specific focus of the visit was a four-day conference for church leaders.

Recent years have seen exponential growth in the numbers of Christians – and the number of churches – in Nepal. Thanks to our partnership with SD Church, CMSI has had a window on this incredible work of God. Every couple of weeks, we hear news of more baptisms at the church in Kathmandu and at the many smaller fellowships in rural parts of the country. As the church shares God’s love with the poor, the sick and the marginalised, God is ‘adding to their number daily’.

As the numbers of small house-churches has grown, so has the need to invest in the leaders of these fellowships through biblical teaching and theological training. As part of the partnership with SD Church, CMSI were asked to help address this need, by leading a conference on the basics of Christianity. So a team of six – four from St Brigid’s, Glengormley, and two from St Patrick’s, Coleraine– flew from cold and wet Ireland and landed in sunny but cool Nepal. Team member and first-time visitor, Alan Robinson picks up the story…

“Kathmandu is a great experience once you realise that the words ‘health’ and ‘safety’ do not translate into Nepali. Electric cables on poles in the street festooned like spaghetti; a family of four on a small motorbike with only one helmet; animal heads and meat displayed on counters open to the street; drivers who minimise the distance between their vehicle and any other; overtaking on blind bends; riding a motorbike over a swaying pedestrian suspension bridge. I wouldn’t have missed seeing it for the world.

“The Nepali people are so friendly, particularly those in the churches at SD and the Leprosy Colony. They sit on large rugs, worship is heartfelt and everyone prays together out loud. The church has a real heart for the disabled and poor.

“The seminars for the church leaders were held over four days in a small conference centre which used to be royal stables. With the abolition of the monarchy in 2008, the stables have since become a cafe and conference venue. The main hall used for the seminars opened out on a sunny courtyard, where we had tea or coffee at breaks and a self-service lunch of delicious Nepali food.

“About forty or so people attended the seminars, six of them in wheelchairs. About half of the participants were women. Each morning and afternoon we began with worship. The tunes were familiar to us but the words were in Nepali. Then everyone prayed out loud as they felt led. We had two translators for the fourteen talks.

“It is an interesting experience being translated. Firstly, you need much less material. Secondly, your translator speaks for longer than you do as they have to contextualise your sentences and sometimes explain theological terms for which there is no directly equivalent word. We gave talks on such basic topics as The Cross, Salvation, Prayer, Forgiveness, The Gifts and Fruit of the Spirit, Leadership, The Cost of Discipleship and Family Life. In preparing these, we deliberately taught what the Bible says on each subject because ‘the word of the Lord endures for ever’ and it speaks to all cultures.

“As the course went on, our welcome each day became even warmer, the worship became more enthusiastic and the questions after each talk became more numerous. For example, what do you advise a man who becomes a Christian when he has more than one wife? At the end of the course the team had the privilege of praying for each person present. Our Nepali friends showed us such friendship and hospitality that we felt we had received more than we had given. Incidentally, when the participants were questioned afterwards to discover how much had been retained, it was the illiterate folk taking no notes who retained most.

“If you get an opportunity to teach like this abroad, take it. Just remember to teach from the Word of God, not from our culture, find a translator who knows both the local culture and the participants and relax and go with the flow! Things happen when they happen.”

Click here to read more from Alan and the team.

Firm Foundations

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