Little did the Nepalese people realize that their country would have one of the fastest growing Christian populations in the beginning of the 21st century. Nepal was, for many years, the only Hindu kingdom in the world. The king of Nepal was worshiped as an incarnation of one of the Hindu gods, and preaching of the gospel was completely forbidden. Believers were persecuted, imprisoned, and even killed.
In the 1980s, in a remote Himalayan village called Furketaar, a young man left to join the Indian army. (After the British left India, the Indian government began recruiting Nepalese in their Gorkha regiment). While in the army, during an insurgency attack in the northeast, he heard the gospel and was marvelously saved and eventually added to a local assembly. After finishing his service, he returned to Furketaar and began to share the gospel. Many in the village were saved, and an assembly was planted, but persecution was fierce. At times, the new believers had to leave their homes and live in caves in the jungles. Eventually, some chose to leave and move to the plains in the eastern part of Nepal, close to the Indian border. They settled in a village called Aiyabari and soon came in contact with a brother by the name of R. Raghu. Mr. Raghu had left Mumbai, India to come to the northeastern part of India with an exercise to labor among Nepali-speaking people. Eventually, through his labors and the labors of a young Nepali brother, Hari Shreshta, two more assemblies were planted in eastern Nepal as well as some assemblies in West Bengal and Sikkim, two states in northeastern India where there are large Nepali-speaking populations.
We are located in Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. Sikkim is primarily a Nepali-speaking state and the assembly was planted in the early 90s. Up until about 2012, the assembly was small with approximately 15 believers in fellowship, but the Lord began to work. A young woman began attending the meetings and was saved. Shortly after her salvation, she was diagnosed with cancer with a very poor prognosis. Her in-laws began to persecute her for her faith. She was eventually relegated to a small room in the house with no access to water or kitchen facilities. In spite of all that, she faithfully attended the meetings with a bright smile on her face. She would say, “Wouldn’t it have been terrible if all these things had happened when I was an unbeliever?” Her bright testimony began to challenge believers who had been living, in a sense, mundane Christian lives.
In the fall of 2011, Charles Davidson, of Northern Ireland, visited the assembly. With many contacts attending regularly, he saw the potential for gospel meetings and suggested holding a gospel series on his next visit. In January 2012, the assembly held what would be the first of many gospel series taken by brother Charles in various assemblies in these parts. In nine nights, 15 professed to be saved and many continue today in assembly fellowship. Over the next few years, the Lord continually added to the assembly and there are now about 55 in fellowship.
The assembly began to have a gospel exercise for other areas. A young couple had been saved from a small village called Chinjey, located about one-half hour outside Gangtok. This liquor-selling-turned-Christian young couple opened their home for gospel meetings, and a few weeks after starting, broke down the wall between their living room and bedroom in their simple mud house to better accommodate the meetings. The young sister especially was so thrilled to be able to use her simple home for the Lord she would say, “I’m so happy. I feel like I’m already in heaven.”
As we looked at her simple dirt floors, open fire for cooking, water pump and outhouse, we realized that we had many things to learn from them. The Lord began to work in Chinjey as well, and eventually, four couples were saved as well as several young people, one of whom now lives with us and is a gifted translator and bright student of the Word. In May 2016, an assembly began breaking bread there. The assembly in Gangtok continues to support Chinjey in their weekly gospel meeting and Bible study. We are praying for more locals to be saved.
The Lord has continued to work in eastern Nepal as well. The assembly in Aiyabari now has about 80 in fellowship. Aiyabari has seen much blessing in a village about 30 minutes away from them called Shanti Chowk. There are about 15 believers now there. A new assembly has begun breaking bread in a small city called Damak. A young brother by the name of Bhupal Rai, commended from Gangtok, is laboring there. The assembly has vibrant outreaches in surrounding communities near the Indian border and they are witnessing many young people coming to the Lord at regular intervals.
The need for sound Nepali literature is immense. Eight of the Focus On booklets by John Ritchie have been translated in recent years. The Nepali hymnbooks used by most churches have many doctrinal errors and poorly translated hymns. Consequently, a sound Nepali hymn book was a great need. A little over a year ago, we had the joy of publishing a hymn book with a good collection of over 300 hymns. We are now working on making simple recordings and posting them online to ensure that there is consistency in singing in the various Nepali-speaking assemblies.
Family life keeps us quite busy. This year we have nine children/young adults living with us, coming from various backgrounds. Some are social orphans, some face persecution for their faith, and some come for a better education. We are very thankful that most are saved and growing in the Lord. The two youngest do not profess salvation yet. We need much wisdom in mentoring these young people.
We give thanks for the work the Lord has been doing among Nepali-speaking people in India and Nepal. We would value prayer, especially for wisdom in the shepherding of young believers and continued passion in preaching the gospel in new areas.